Past and Present #5

Dave Black (@CM9798) continues with the fifth part of his FM19 series. If you've not checked out Dave's past work based on Championship Manager 97/98, then I'd highly recommend following him on twitter and checking out his website dedicated to CM 97/98

Hello! Welcome to part 5 of a man trying to wrestle a bear. It’s not that bad, but I already have a few scars from the opening months of the season. My Newcastle side are in the bottom 3 and yet to record a win. I’m clinging to the positives where they’re available and a 2-2 draw with Tottenham is something to build on.

What’s this?

Life has taught us that this will not go through. I’ll worry about that later.

Fulham away is our next destination. I’ve had two weeks to mull it over and I’ve decided 4-2-3-1 is definitely our future but with one important adjustment – we’re going to cautious instead of positive. We’ve got loads of pace, especially with Muto starting instead of Rondon and if teams want to attack us then we’ll exploit the spaces. Right?

It’s a dream start as Muto loops a header over the keeper in the first 5 minutes. Not the type of goal I expected but that’s not something I have time to care about. We reach half time without any real alarms.

As is our custom it starts to unravel. A corner results in Schar wrestling Callum Chambers to the floor and former NUFC man Mitrovic steps up to take the penalty. Much to my delight, Dubravka saves the pen. Hurray!

From the resulting throw in, the ball falls to Stefan Johansen on the edge of the box and he powers home to level it up. The reprieve was brief. Fulham are like a different animal now and Mitrovic heads in from a corner just five minutes later. Another loss looms.

Kenedy has been poor so Dummett is on with Sessegnon moving further forward and the change immediately pays dividends. Not in the way you’d expect though, the Welsh Geordie heads in from a free kick to give us an unlikely lifeline. A point is good, but three is better. Chambers gets in a right mess trying to play out from the back and Sessegnon takes it off him and lashes home. A WIN.

Well that was exciting. Maybe our season will turn on it. My first mission is to prove it wasn’t a fluke.

Leicester at home is a good opportunity to build on our first win. They’re inconsistent and I keep everything the same. Ritchie gives us a 10th minute lead and everything is right with the world.

Fuchs equalised with a 30 yard free kick. Honestly, I reckon if you concede two a season in real life you are unlucky but we concede one a month on average. Moaning aside, we get a penalty on the stroke of half time when Muto is decked and Ritchie makes no mistake.

That makes the half time chat easier and although the second half is cagey, a brilliant goal settles the nerves. Ki’s ball over the top is reasonable but Muto has to pick the ball off the left touchline. He ducks inside and sees off three defenders before lashing past Schmeichel. We’re Newcastle and we’re going to win the league.

Maybe that’s a bit far but we’re up to 13th which is a far cry from 18th. It’s only Arsenal away next, too.

We’re not favourites at the Emirates but our new-found confidence sees us spring out of the traps. Perez’s goal from the edge of the box is a sight to behold and even if Arsenal are having all the chances, Dubravka is equal to anything they send his way. We lead at the break.

Sadly the second half is not a good time for us. Henrikh Mkhitaryan takes the games by the scruff of the neck and scores twice and we have no response. It’s a shame but not a surprise.

Nevermind, Watford at home is a game we have more of a chance in. If I’d known making a small change like this would make us this much better I’d have done it a long time ago. We take a first half lead when Schar flicks on a corner and Lascelles, recently capped by England, is on hand to give us the lead.

It’s 2-0 before half time when a lovely move ends with Ritchie firing home at the near post. Perez makes it 3 which should seal the points. It’s a good chance to rotate a few, a decision I instantly regret as Doucoure pulls one back. But Ritchie goes one better than his earlier effort with a beautiful free kick to make it 4-1. He’s really a talisman for us and comfortably our top performer. A 4-1 win that doesn’t flatter us.

Oh I’m shocked.

It’s an International break and with the first 11 playing quite well, some of the subs and other squad players are desperately short of match practice. In one of my stranger moves, I ask FC Twente to play us in a friendly on the middle Saturday. It’s a chance to give people some minutes and alleviates the boredom of the break. We win 2-0, if you’re wondering.

Will that be good preparation for the trip to Wolves to round off November? It certainly looks like it is when Muto slots in after Neves misplaced a pass outside his own box. The lead lasts just two minutes before Dendoncker, a distant relative of Clive Mendonca, heads in an equaliser.

It remains deadlocked until 73 minutes. We give the ball away and a sweeping Wolves counter ends with substitute Bonatini powerfully putting his side ahead. Oh man. We’re made of stronger stuff these days and just two minutes later Sessegnon pounces from a loose ball after a corner is only half cleared. Game on!

For once Ritchie has been poor so the pace of Jacob Murphy is on. He’s not had much of a look in but he’s like a man possessed here. He cuts in onto his weaker left foot but that fools everybody as he beats Rui Patricio at his near post. I break into a little jig around the living room until my wife tells me to settle down. She was right to do it.

I’m up again shortly after though as Sessegnon nabs his second to secure the points. 4-2! They think it’s all over but it isn’t. There’s still time for Murphy to grab his second, finishing a great counter attack at the far post. A frankly ridiculous game ends in a 7 goal thriller and we’ve got 5 of them. What a turn up.

All of that leaves us 10th as the most successful month of my life comes to a close. We’ve stumbled on a system that works and there’s competition for places. Sure, several players want to leave. But really do I need Karl Darlow, Ciaran Clark, Federico Fernandez or Isaac Hayden? No, I don’t.

It’ll be December next time we chat and that means a lot of games. Bye for now.

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