Hello folks and welcome back to the Vauxhall Motors Football Manager 2011 story, it’s time to see how the fierce battle for the Premier League title unfolded in the month of April 2019! As you know Tottenham were top of the table at the end of March, just one point ahead of us but with a much easier schedule for the end of the season. However, we had the direct match against them at the end of April and that game was considered to be the title decider. We also were doing pretty well in the cup competitions as we were qualified for the Champions League quarter finals and for the semi finals of the FA Cup. Let’s see how it went…
The first game of the month, at home against Hull, could have ended with another frustrating result for us. We played pretty well but our finishing was quite wasteful again. Luckily Parana managed to score his 20th goal of the season to give us the valuable three points.
The next game saw us taking a nice trip to Italy as we were preparing to meet A.C. Milan for the first time in the club’s history. Their team was filled with exceptional talents: Diego Renan and Musacchio in defense, Adem Ljajic in midfield and a strong 29-year old Pato upfront. If you add a few awesome regens then you can understand why we were not the favorites on that day…
A.C. Milan vs Vauxhall (Champions League Qtr Final Leg 1)
Venue: San Siro
Starting line up: Luis Guilherme – Emanuele Santoni, Javier Godoy, Marat Bykov, Hans Larsson – Leandro Velasco, Indio, Robert Ackermann, Tiago – Zé Carlos, Parana
Team Talk: You can win today!
We started the game well even if our good possession didn’t bring us any good chances to score. The silence was broken on the half hour mark and unfortunately it wasn’t us who did that, a long ball forward saw Pato beating Javier Godoy in the air and flicking on for the other striker who found the back of the net with a perfect finish. Our reply was swift though, a simple move saw Robert Ackermann passing through for Parana who slotted home to make it all square. The remaining minutes were fairly quiet, we kept possession very well while Milan picked up two yellow cards while trying to get the ball.
Half time score: 1-1
Half time team talk: Pleased.
Half time substitutions: Abdallah Yaisien for Velasco, Walid Mechergui for Tiago
I sent in fresh legs on the flanks at half time and the move paid off, especially on the right flank where Abdallah Yaisien was creating danger with his runs. The Frenchman wasted a very good opportunity on 62 minutes but then he made amends just a minute later when he made a good interception before squaring for Parana who blasted home from just inside the penalty area. We continued to play well and Zé Carlos could have doubled our advantage five minutes later but he missed a pretty good chance. I made my last change on 70 minutes when I sent in Graham Howson for Indio and the game seemed to be going our way as Milan were not creating too much danger. Things changed 15 minutes from time though, the home side made it all square thanks to a fabulous goal, a wonderful lob from distance that left Luis Guilherme totally stranded. We received another blow two minutes later, Marat Bykov had to leave the field so we were down to 10 men and without our best defender. Milan saw the opportunity and started to push forward but my lads held firm until the 90th minute. Unfortunately the referee indicated no less than 5 minutes of injury time and that was just what Milan needed: they hit the crossbar on 93 minutes and then finally found the back of the net again in the sixth minute of added time! That was a cruel result, I think we were the better team but Bykov‘s injury denied us the opportunity to get a good result. He was going to miss the return leg as well, his injury was going to keep him on the sidelines between two and three weeks…
Full time team talk: Sympathise.
Man of the match: Parana
Flop of the match: Walid Mechergui
Before the second leg we had to deal with another Premier League match, away at 16th placed Ipswich. We didn’t put on the best of performances but our defenders were clinical in front of goal, left back Pierre Touya scored his first ever goal for the club while centre backs Louis Laing and Mervin Simon brought us joy again with their headers.
The second leg against Milan was coming up, a 1-0 draw would have booked our passage to the Champions League semi finals for the first time in the club’s history and I can say that I was quite confident before the game.
Vauxhall vs A.C. Milan (Champions League Qtr Final Leg 2)
Venue: Vauxhall Stadium
Starting line up: Luis Guilherme – Emanuele Santoni, Javier Godoy, Mervin Simon, Pierre Touya – Leandro Velasco, Robert Ackermann, Marcos Fernandez, Tiago – Zé Carlos, Parana
Team Talk: For the fans!
The team started the game just like I wanted them to, they were pushing Milan inside their own box. However, we could have been punished early on as Mervin Simon gave the ball away 20 yards from our goal but Luis Guilherme repaired his mistake with a fine save. Our domination continued until half time with Leandro Velasco having two pretty good chances. Unfortunately he missed them and Milan were leading on aggregate at the break. I had the feeling that we were by far the better team but we were just not doing enough to prove that on the scoreboard…
Half time score: 0-0
Half time team talk: Where’s the passion, lads?
Half time substitutions: Hans Larsson for Touya, Abdallah Yaisien for Tiago
Parana could have given us the lead just 20 seconds after the break, he was unmarked at 10 yards but his shot was palmed away by the goalkeeper. Our domination continued, Milan were forced to defend but they were doing that pretty well so we were unable to create any more clear cut chances. Time was running out and it seemed that Milan were going to hold out for a goalless draw… It was the fourth minute of injury time when we had our very last chance, a corner kick… The ball flew into the area, Mervin Simon headed it on… And Javier Godoy dived onto it… Header… It’s in! Get in! Hurray, we’re through to the semi finals!
Full time team talk: Well done!
Man of the match: Marcos Fernandez
Flop of the match: Pierre Touya
The draw decided that we were going to meet Lyon in the semi final while the other match was going to see Manchester City taking on Barcelona. But you’ll know more about that later, we had another important event coming up: the FA Cup semi final against Chelsea. The Blues surely remembered that we had beaten them 4-1 at Stamford Bridge in the Premier League in December, it was a heavy defeat for them and I was looking forward to causing them more sorrow ;)
Vauxhall vs Chelsea (FA Cup Semi Final)
Starting line up: Luis Guilherme – Julian Marino, Javier Godoy, Mervin Simon, Pierre Touya – Leandro Velasco, Indio, Marcos Fernandez, Tiago – Zé Carlos, Parana
Team Talk: For the fans!
The opening minutes were just as I expected them to be, we were dominating while Chelsea were constantly trying their luck with shots from distance. We were not looking too well in attack but neither were our opponents, I was expecting a goalless first half as we entered the final 15 minutes. That was not the case though, a terrible blunder in our defense gifted Chelsea the opening goal. The mistake was that everybody made a step up to play the offside trap, everybody except one player, and that left the Chelsea striker all alone inside our penalty area. His initial finish hit the bottom of the post but he had all the time in the world to rebound and fire home. Our terrible defending continued and Chelsea had another chance after just two minutes, Neymar robbed Mervin Simon but fortunately Luis Guilherme stopped the Brazilian striker. The lads woke up after those two mistakes and we could have made it all square a couple of minutes before the interval but Tiago headed wide from six yards.
Half time score: 0-1
Half time team talk: Sympathise.
Half time substitutions: Robert Ackermann for Fernandez, Walid Mechergui for Tiago
The equalizer did come after the break and we didn’t have to wait too long either, a good team move on 50 minutes freed up Zé Carlos who made no mistake from inside the penalty area. The game reverted to the initial state, we were dominating while Chelsea were still trying lots of shots from distance. Our attacking moves were much better now though and we created quite a few good chances. Unfortunately Parana, Zé Carlos and Walid Mechergui missed the very best of them and we could have been punished two minutes from time when another error from Mervin Simon left Neymar unmarked but the wonder striker missed the target. Fortunately we managed to score the winning goal on the stroke of full time, Robert Ackermann played a great long ball for Zé Carlos who fired a low drive into the back of the net. We were through to the final where we were going to meet… Tottenham, who else?
Full time team talk: Congratulations!
Man of the match: Zé Carlos
Flop of the match: Tiago
We had three more games before the end of the month: Sunderland and Tottenham in the Premier League and the first leg against Lyon in the Champions League… The situation at the top of the table was unchanged before the Sunderland game, the Spurs were still top and they still had one point more than us. We had to beat Sunderland and we did it, it wasn’t a great game but our finishing was lethal with Mervin Simon bagging a nice double to make up for the mistakes against Chelsea.
A 5-0 win is a good enough reason to celebrate but on that day we had something a lot better: Tottenham were beaten 3-1 at Blackburn! That was the slip-up we were waiting for, we were back in top spot and Tottenham were two points behind us before the derby! It was a good psychological advantage to take into the big match at White Hart Lane but we still had to face the mighty Spurs and make sure we don’t get beaten there… What do you think, did we weather the storm at White Hart Lane? Go to the next page to find out!
Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.
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