Hello folks and welcome to another episode of the Vauxhall Motors Football Manager 2011 story! As you might remember our title defense was going pretty well at the end of December 2018, we were top of the table but Tottenham were just two points behind us and the Spurs also had a game in hand. As for the cup competitions, we were knocked out quite early in the Carling Cup by Aston Villa but we had a very good Champions League group campaign and we finished it with six wins out of six. This post will take you from January 2019 to the end of March 2019, quite a lot happened during those three months and I hope you will enjoy the journey.
The new year started with a rather frustrating match against Burnley in the Premier League, we had 20 plus shots but eventually had to thank centre back Mervin Simon for the three points as he popped a corner kick header. We did much better in the next game, West Ham were no match for our lads even if I decided to rest Parana for that game. The next game was at home against Wolves and I feared the worst after Robert Ackermann had missed a penalty kick early on but right winger Leandro Velansco did a great job to score twice and give us the three points. The last of this quick batch of games was the FA Cup 3rd Round clash with Arsenal, it was an unlucky draw for us but we managed to pull through courtesy of Zé Carlos‘ 20th goal of the season and Marat Bykov‘s header. Arsenal scored a great goal too, so I guess the highlights are of that game worth watching (Click here to watch the highlights.)
We had to meet Arsenal again after just four days as they were coming back at Vauxhall Stadium for a Premier League match. The situation at the top of the table was unchanged, Tottenham were still 2 points behind us but they still had that game in hand.
Vauxhall vs Arsenal (Premier League)
Venue: Vauxhall Stadium
Starting line up: Luis Guilherme – Emanuele Santoni, Mervin Simon, Marat Bykov, Pierre Touya – Leandro Velasco, Robert Ackermann, Marcos Fernandez, Tiago – Zé Carlos, Parana
Team Talk: For the fans!
The game started well, we were displaying our usual domination and Arsenal were forced to withstand some heavy pressure at times. Our efforts were rewarded on 33 minutes when Leandro Velasco fired one straight into the top corner from inside the area and we could have easily made it 2-0 at the break if Parana wouldn’t have missed a glorious chance.
Half time score: 1-0
Half time team talk: Encourage.
Half time substitutions: Abdallah Yaisien for Velasco, Indio for Fernandez
We came close to doubling the lead just two minutes after the break, Marat Bykov powered a free kick header but the ball clipped the post before going behind. Things were pretty quiet, Arsenal seemed unable to threaten our lead but the situation changed 10 minutes after the break when Emanuele Santoni made a rash tackle inside the box and left the referee with no other choice than to point to the spot. Luis Guilherme saved the penalty kick though, Santoni surely had to give him a beer for that! :) The chance did give Arsenal more courage and they started to attack with more impetus. However, Zé Carlos could have killed off the game shortly after the hour mark but he was denied by a brilliant save. Ten minutes later Bendtner squandered Arsenal‘s last chance as we controlled the last quarter hour with ease. We should have closed the game a lot earlier though, we gave Arsenal a chance and we were lucky that they didn’t take it. So I decided not to speak to the players at the end of the game, they had to think about it by themselves.
Full time team talk: none
Man of the match: Marat Bykov
Flop of the match: Abdallah Yaisien
The last league game of the month was a fairly easy one although Bristol City took the lead after just three minutes as Julian Marino scored an own goal. We recovered well from that slow start though and we dispatched the home side with ease.
The best news was that Tottenham did slip up, they recorded a draw in that game in hand so we had a clean one-point advantage at the end of January.
Just before the end of the month a surprising piece of news hit town, our chairman was looking to step aside!
That was the least of my concerns though, we had an action-packed February ahead of us with Manchester City in the league and CSKA Moscow in the Champions League.
We warmed up for the Man City game with a scrappy FA Cup 4th Round match against Ipswich, I rested most of my first team players but the result was good enough.
The Man City game was coming up and their manager didn’t miss the opportunity, his mind-games are well-known. However, I had to agree with him: this was their last chance to stay in the title race, a defeat would have ended their hopes as they were 15 points behind us but with a game in hand. However, I was quite confident as well ;)
Man City vs Vauxhall (Premier League)
Venue: The City of Manchester Stadium
Starting line up: Luis Guilherme – Emanuele Santoni, Mervin Simon, Marat Bykov, Pierre Touya – Leandro Velasco, Robert Ackermann, Marcos Fernandez, Walid Mechergui – Zé Carlos, Parana
Team Talk: For the fans!
We had beaten them 2-0 in October in a game that we dominated but this time things seemed to be a lot different, the Citizens got off to a great start and we had to thank Luis Guilherme for denying them on a great chance after just three minutes. Our possession was as good as always but we were unable to break through their defense and we could have paid the price five minutes before half time when a thunderous free kick shot from 40 yards hit the crossbar above our keeper’s head. Disaster did strike just two minutes later, my defenders were unable to deal with a corner kick cross and the ball went into the back of the net off the back of left back Pierre Touya. We could have restored parity just before the break but Leandro Velasco squandered an immense opportunity as he fired wide from inside the six-yard box.
Half time score: 1-0
Half time team talk: I want to see more from you!
Half time substitutions: Indio for Fernandez, Abdallah Yaisien for Mechergui
We started pushing forward with more determination after the break but Manchester City were withstanding the pressure very well. Things were getting quite frustrating but we finally managed to pull level on 71 minutes when Leandro Velasco made a great run down his flank before squaring for Robert Ackermann who slid home. That was just in time to push for a win but our plans were undone just three minutes later as the Citizens scored on another corner kick… Ackermann was presented with a chance to make it all square again four minutes from time but he was denied by a stunning save from Joe Hart, we got beaten and it was quite a painful defeat. However, Tottenham recorded a draw in their game so we were tied on 66 points with them.
Full time team talk: Disappointing!
Man of the match: Robert Ackermann
Flop of the match: Marcos Fernandez
That disappointing defeat was soon forgotten as we went on to record three straight wins, two in the league and one in the fifth round of the FA Cup. Centre back Javier Godoy was in particularly good form as he scored three times against West Brom, Zé Carlos seemed to have regained his clinical finishing while backup John Fleck managed to score his first goal for the club against Fulham.
The situation at the top of the table was incredibly tight, we were tied on 72 points with Tottenham while Manchester City dropped quite a few points and we can safely say that they were out of the title race at that point.
We still had to make a long trip to Moscow before the end of February, please go to the next page to find out all about that and also about our run in the month of March!
Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.
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