Hello folks, after a rough week at work that ended only today around noon and hardly any time for Football Manager I am happy to welcome you back to the Vauxhall Motors story! Let’s remember first where we left off: we were 4th in the Premier League at the end of October, three points off the top but with a game in hand while in the Champions League group we grabbed two wins (against Partizan and Lyon) and we got beaten by mighty Inter Milan. Now let’s see how we did in November and December 2017.
The first game of November was not too easy, Everton always are tough to beat, but we managed to bang in two goals mostly thanks to right winger Leandro Velasco who provided the assist on both occasions.
The first crucial game was coming up, away at Lyon in the Champions League group. We beat them 2-1 at home and we had to leave France unbeaten in order to maintain our chances of pulling through to the first knockout round. Let’s see how it went…
Lyon vs Vauxhall (Champions League Grp G)
Venue: Stade des Lumieres
Starting line up: Luis Guilherme – Julian Marino, Javier Godoy, Mervin Simon, Pierre Touya – Leandro Velasco, Denís, Tinga, Tiago – Parana, Zé Carlos
Team Talk: You can win today!
The game started with some brilliant plays right away and the home side was the one who came closest to scoring early on. The entertainment continued until midway though the first half but it was us who broke the deadlock on 25 minutes when Tinga played a lovely through ball for Zé Carlos inside the penalty area and the defender’s desperate tackle pushed the ball past his own keeper! Our joy was short-lived though, Lyon pulled level after just four minutes as Gourcuff fired in a good shot from the edge of the area. We could have bounced back immediately but Zé Carlos and Parana missed a double opportunity a couple of minutes after the equalizer. We also had an injury to worry about before the break, midfielder Denís was taken off the pitch and was replaced by Graham Howson.
Half time score: 1-1
Half time team talk: Pleased.
Half time substitutions: Abdallah Yaisien for Tiago
Our second half was definitely not as good as the first, it started with an injury to Leandro Velasco (replaced by Javier Garcia) and it continued with Lyon dictating the tempo and trying hard to bag the winning goal. Our defense stood firm for a while but it was our goalie who saved us, Luis Guilherme was exceptional on a pair of occasions and we entered the final 10 minutes on level terms. I was expecting a hot finale in our penalty area but my lads regrouped and played a lot better, we kept possession very well and could even have scored the winning goal through Zé Carlos but the Brazilian striker wasted another great opportunity. The result was good though, we only needed to beat Partizan at home to qualify at that point. Things were not looking too good for Denís though, the midfielder was going to be out for three months.
Full time team talk: Good result!
Man of the match: Luis Guilherme
Flop of the match: Zé Carlos
Back to the league for a quick run-down of the last three matches of the month. First we had a pretty rough match against Birmingham. We found ourselves 1-0 down after just three minutes, then we came back and made it 2-1 at half time but Birmingham made it 2-2 with some help from our sloppy defense. Then we laid siege on their penalty area, wasted countless chances and hit the woodwork three times before legendary Mervin Simon stepped up and bagged the winning goal during stoppage time. The next game was a bit easier as we fired three goals against Blackburn with Tiago and Abdallah Yaisien bagging their first goals for the club. The last Premier League match of the month was a rather scrappy affair at Fulham but we clinched the three points thanks to a moment of inspiration from Leandro Velasco.
The 100% record in November pushed us… to the top of the table! The race was still incredibly tight though and we had nothing to celebrate yet since we were going to face some tough matches in December.
You’ll know more about those later, the last match of the month was a prestigious visit to San Siro to meet Inter Milan. Although we didn’t need to get any points there I was still looking forward to it as a win could have booked our place in the knockout stage with a game to spare.
Inter vs Vauxhall (Champions League Grp G)
Venue: Giuseppe Meazza
Starting line up: Luis Guilherme – Julian Marino, Javier Godoy, Mervin Simon, Pierre Touya – Leandro Velasco, Radek Vecera, Tinga, Javier Garcia – Parana, Zé Carlos
Team Talk: Pressure is off.
The first half was not bad at all as far as we were concerned, it was an even game and we even showed a few good moments in attack. We had no clear chances though while Inter had only one but they were stopped by a brilliant save from Luis Guilherme. The effort was quite substantial though and several Vauxhall players were having fitness problems at half time.
Half time score: 0-0
Half time team talk: Pleased.
Half time substitutions: Kwabena Quartey for Marino, Abdallah Yaisien for Velasco, Graham Howson for Vecera
Inter started to play a lot better after the break and they were denied again on two clear chances by our goalkeeper. We survived the first 20 minutes with some luck and thanks to our goalie but then we started to play better and could have taken the lead through Mervin Simon on a corner kick but his header was cleared off the line. However, just when we were starting to show some good football we got punished by Inter and that was a big blow for my lads. We were unable to regroup and Inter created quite a few more chances during the final minutes but we could still have walked away with a point as Javier Garcia had a great chance on 90 minutes, he had the ball at six yards and all the time in the work to pick the finish but he shot straight at the keeper. The result didn’t affect our qualification chances, we were tied on 7 points with Lyon but we had the advantage in the direct results against them so we only needed to get the three points in the last group game against Partizan at home.
Full time team talk: Good effort!
Man of the match: Mervin Simon
Flop of the match: Graham Howson
After the game I received my second offer from a big club, this time Manchester City came by to tempt me with a luxurious transfer budget and an over the top wage budget. I said no, they should have expected that, but guess who they picked after I had refused them! That’s right, Jose Mourinho! They even paid a few million pounds to Real Madrid in compensation!
As I mentioned earlier December had a few cracking matches in store for us: away at Arsenal and at Mourinho‘s Man City and then at home with Liverpool.
You can also notice that we got lucky in the Carling Cup as we were going to meet Championship side Wolves in the Quarter Final, we had a very good chance of making the last four. But more about that in the next page…
Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.
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