Hello folks and welcome back to Ellesmere Port, a town that is now featured on the European football map thanks to the wonderful Motormen! We qualified for the Europa League in somewhat surprising and lucky circumstances and after a very busy summer it was time for another Premier League season, the second one in the club’s history. I guess you are all curious to see how my new signings adapted to life in England and you might also want to know whether we managed to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League. Don’t worry, you’ll find the answers if you read on :)
Vauxhall vs Manchester City (Premier League)
Venue: Rivacre Park
Starting line up: Dean Bouzanis – Kaka, Louis Laing, Mervin Simon, Grant Baddeley – Stephan El Shaarawy, Mark Brown, Graham Howson, Andrew Surman – Zé Carlos, Pavol Vesely
Team Talk: You can win today!
It wasn’t the easiest of opening games, I’ll tell you that! Manchester City are the defending Champions League holders and as if that wasn’t enough I had to do without four of my best players as they were away at the Olympic Games! Those four are Julian Bazzi, Javier Godoy, Leandro Velasco and Parana, all of them proud to represent their nations in the biggest international sporting event. However, we played a pretty good first half and even managed to create two good chances but we were denied by an amazing Joe Hart on both occasions. The Citizens had nothing to show in open play but they were still threatening on set pieces, they came close to breaking the deadlock twice from corner kicks.
Half time score: 0-0
Half time team talk: You can win today!
Half time substitutions: Shyamdew Weibolt for Brown, Ibrahima MBow for Surman
I was really hoping to clinch a win after that good first half but those hopes lasted for just four minutes after the break, a clumsy tackle from Mervin Simon left the door wide open and we were punished without mercy. The game changed, we were no longer able to create dangerous opportunities and Manchester City wrapped things up with another two goals, a superb volley and a corner kick header. The score was quite harsh but that’s how you win games, you have to take your chances…
Full time team talk: Sympathise.
Man of the match: Louis Laing
Flop of the match: Kaka
Rosenborg vs Vauxhall (Europa League 4th Qual Rnd Leg 1)
Starting line up: Dean Bouzanis – Julian Marino, Louis Laing, Mervin Simon, Grant Baddeley – Stephan El Shaarawy, Mark Brown, Shyamdew Weibolt, Andrew Surman – Parana, Pavol Vesely
Team Talk: You can win today!
This was a very important game for us, the last step towards the Europa League group stage. I always prefer having the first leg away in such ties because my teams are all about scoring goals and you all know that it’s a good advantage to score away if you want a quiet second leg. Unfortunately three of the four players were still at the Olympics and we also received some bad news from the physio, Graham Howson picked up a knock in training and was going to be out for 3 weeks. Bad luck continued after the opening whistle, Rosenborg took the lead after just 50 seconds! That didn’t affect my lads too much though, the team was playing pretty well and we leveled the match on 14 minutes when Parana played a good through pass for Pavol Vesely and the young Slovakian striker found the bottom corner of the net. We continued to dominate but luck was definitely not on our side, Rosenborg scored a second goal right out of nowhere just before the half time break, it was their second shot on target…
Half time score: 2-1
Half time team talk: Pleased.
Half time substitutions: Marcelo for El Shaarawy, Elias Kost for Weibolt, Connor Wickham for Vesely
I was proud of the lads despite the result so I opted for a positive half time team talk, I was sure that we would get the result because we were far better than our opponents. In fact, we made it all square after just four minutes as substitute Marcelo pushed in a good cross from Andrew Surman. We continued to press forward and things got better three minutes before the hour mark as one of Rosenborg‘s defenders got sent off for a professional foul on Parana. The Brazilian striker deserved to get on the score sheet himself and he did that in style on 67 minutes as he powered home after skipping past a defender. We could have scored a few more but the game ended with a rather harsh red card for right back Julian Marino. We were certain of making it to the group stage considering the result though and also the much weaker than expected Rosenborg team.
Full time team talk: Well done!
Man of the match: Parana
Flop of the match: Stephan El Shaarawy
The next game saw us losing 4-2 at Liverpool but that was a rather difficult game for us and not because of the opponents. My Argentine trio was on a plane back from the Olympics in Brazil while the other lads were tired after the trip to Norway. We put up a good fight at Anfield Road but eventually crumbled in the second half as fatigue kicked in. The second leg against Rosenborg was a mere formality, we put no less than seven goals past them with Pavol Vesely bagging four of them and Parana netting a double. The last match of the month brought us the first Premier League win of the season, newly-promoted Southampton were unable to cope with my Brazilian duo in attack as Zé Carlos netted a hat-trick and Parana chipped in with another brace.
The Europa League groups were drawn, we were seeded second so we were handed a decent group with Slavia Sofia as the weakest side and the likes of Koln and Olympiakos as our rivals for the first two spots.
Starting today I will introduce a new section in my posts, the top five players in our team at the end of each month. At the end of August Parana was clearly in the lead with nine goals and six assists to his name, Graham Howson was second and Leandro Velasco was third despite not playing too many games for us due to the Olympics. The most pleasant surprise is Pavol Vesely, the Slovakian striker that returned to the first team after spending the last half of the previous season on loan. He was a killer in the Europa League and he is now the first in line to replace Parana and Zé Carlos.
September had a few tough ones in store for us, first an away game at Sunderland before an easy Europa League group stage debut against Bulgarian side Slavia Sofia. Then we had a double encounter with Wolves before wrapping up the month with a tough clash against Koln in Germany.
Do those fixtures look interesting? I guess they do so please move on to the next page to see what happened in September!
Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.
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