This is the final part in this mini series by guest author @acidphire21
Finally, Part three of the trilogy. This won’t be a Douglas Adams trilogy with another part. This is the run to our first ever Premiership Title and Champions League title! After that it’s just us constantly winning trophy after trophy and not only will it be boring to write about I can imagine it being boring to read about!
This part will show how after promotion last season we settle into the Country’s Top division and progress into being of the world’s best and richest clubs. It was always going to be difficult to progress between the gap between the championship and premiership but with how we lifted the championship with such ease last year I had high hopes for us to make a decent step up…
This summer we released a few again scouring the cheap markets. Outgoing was Paul Collins brought in last season for £500k he was sold to QPR for £1.5m. Toni Casals had a poor time as keeper for us the year before promotion and was sold to Reading for £100k. Another two big sales were Daniel Jensen to Rapid Wien for £1m and Dailos Afonso left for Premiership side Wigan for £9.5m. These all supplemented the transfer budget.
Incoming, the biggest shock was the arrival of Richie Mellish for a bargain £250k as he became the clubs first ever signing from cross city rivals Sunderland. Michal Kubat arrived and went on to stay at the club for 6 years. Other arrivals were Mohammad Rezaei from Frankfurt for £500k, Carsten Oenning from Schalke for £1m, Daniel Furik from Dukla Praha and Wout De Kip from Utrecht for £1m respectively.
We got the season off to a brilliant start as goals from Nijhuis and Cvetkovic managed to get us a winning start over Southampton. But we had to wait until the back-end of October before our next victory as we lost 5 of the next 7. A point on the road against Reading and one at home against QPR was all we managed. But that win over Palace (3-0) kicked out season into life! Defeat the following week to Middlesbrough was nothing as we took maximum points from our next 7 games including trips to Anfield, the Olympic Stadium and Old Trafford!
Back to back draws over New Year with Chelsea and Southampton didn’t stop us as 7 wins from the next 10 propelled us into the European spots! Again picking up wins over Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool. A stumble towards the end of the season saw us finish outside the Champions League spot we briefly occupied, but a 6th place finish was an excellent first year up as we clinched a Europa League spot.
Armstrong wasn’t as good as last season but was still a big player. The four standout players were Lasse Holm at Right wing back, Kubat at left-wing back they had a major influence in our success! Phil Armstrong who chipped in with 14 goals but Jan Nijhuis who helped himself to 31 goals in the Premiership was the star.
In the Cups it wasn’t such a good outing as despite beating Mansfield 4-1 the Dominant Man Utd easily beat us 3-1, to put us out of the Capital One cup 3rd,
The FA Cup went A LOT better a 1-0 win over Swansea sent us into round 2, wins over Bournemouth and Arsenal (3-0, 2-0) saw us into the Semis and an easy win over Leicester put us into our first major cup final, but we faced the dominant Man Utd, despite Oliver giving us the lead on 83rd minute winner for United sealed the FA Cup.
Final Position: 6th in the PREMIERSHIP
FA Cup: Runner Up (Manchester United 2-1 Albion)
Capital One Cup: 3rd Round (Manchester United 3-1 Albion)
Despite dominating the league and being a great player, our right-wing back last year Lasse Holm left for £13.5m. When Tottenham came in and matched his release clause there wasn’t much we could do. Also leaving on release clauses were Alex Coll, the Scottish midfielder headed to London and Watford for £4.1m as my team got picked apart. Back up keeper Conti also left he went to Standard, and Jacob Olofsson headed to Portugal for £1m.
Incomings we spent £1.5m on young Italian Keeper Mohammed Mohammed as a long-term replacement for Marti. Fikejz was brought in for £1m with Riccardo Calussi our biggest signing, the Italian international signed for £5m from Fiorentina.
Again we faced Southampton on the opening Day, this time we ran out 5-2 winners with Nijhus bagging a hat-trick and Armstrong netting the other 2. Unbeaten in the first 4 league games was a much better return this time out. We then sandwiched a win over Fulham between defeats to Man Utd and Arsenal, before 1 defeat in the next 10 kept us firmly in the top half of the table. The only defeat being a shock 3-0 reverse to Bournemouth. We headed into the New Year firmly in the European spots as we challenged for the 4th CL spot. But 4 wins in the next 10 saw it slip away from us as we laboured to 4 consecutive draws with Cardiff, Southampton, Liverpool and Leicester. Defeats again to Man Utd and Arsenal saw us slip to 5th. 6 games unbeaten though sent us back into the Champions League spots and we looked odds on to claim one, before a terrible run in saw us pick up a single point away to Rotherham losing the other 6! Meant we finished 6th again.
Again though Dutchman Nijhuis finished the club’s top scorer this time with only 17 goals. Armstrong’s improved slightly with 15 this time out, but 10 from Ostergaard helped Furik slot in effortlessly at RWB. While Kubat continued to impress at LWB.
Again a poor outing in the Capital One Cup as we struggled to a penalty shootout win over Norwich. Before Man Utd easily beat us in the 4th round 3-0. Despite making the FA Cup Final last year we went out in the 3rd round after losing 1-0 away at Brentford.
After being drawn in Group L alongside Stuttgart, First Vienna and Club Brugge, I figure it would be too close to breeze through. But 2 goals each from Calussi and Wallner sealed a first European win for the club. A 2-0 win over First Vienna and I felt confident but 3 defeats on the bounce including back to back defeats to Club Brugge left us 3rd in the group despite beating First Vienna.
Final Position: 6th in the PREMIERSHIP
FA Cup: 3rd Round (Brentford 0-1 Albion)
Capital One Cup: 4th Round (Manchester United 3-0 Albion)
Europe: 3rd in Group L
£43m income this summer mainly from Riccardo Calussi joining Monaco for £34m after impressing last year in Europe. Also leaving was Wout De Kip to Watford for £5m after failing to claim a first team spot. And Centre back Linus Arvidsson to Southampton. Incoming was £2.5m each spent on Ettore Dussex and Haris Kadric from Werder Bremen and Ricardo Fernandes from Brentford.
A Much better start this year as we again won on the opening day (1-0) at home to Barnsley. Further wins over Southampton, Watford and Rotherham left us top of the table after 4 games. One win in the next 6 sent us tumbling though. We did however beat our bogey side Man United 1-0!
A mini revival of 6 unbeaten with 4 wins sent us back towards those Elusive Champions League spots. One win over the four Xmas and New Year games were disappointing, but 3 defeats after Christmas was all that stopped us. Including a 0-0 with Man United, 4-0 over Chelsea, and 4-0 over Man City saw us finish in the 4th Champions League spot by a single point over Arsenal as we finished 7 points behind third placed Cardiff.
Much of the success of this year was down to the three strikers who I rotated. Phil Armstrong notched 29 goals with Jan Nijhuis continuing his great form for us with another 25 goals. Dussex the new youngster even hit 27! With Walton Scoring 10 from midfield and Marti continued to improve as our number one Keeper.
The Capital One Cup was a great year for us, wins over Norwich and Everton (2-0, 4-0) saw us ease into the Quarterfinals. Where Watford were swept 3-1 then a 5-2 Aggregate win over Leicester saw us into the Capital One Cup final! Where we met Manchester United! And it was an easy win, goals from Dussex and Nijhuis eased us to a 3-1 lead before Phil Armstrong hit number four to seal our first major Trophy!
FA Cup run was equally as spectacular, a 2-0 win over Bristol City in round 3 set us up on the run. Spurs and Bournemouth were brushed aside but Brentford took us to a replay. But a 3-0 win saw us into the semifinals against Southampton. A late goal put us into the FA Cup final where we would play, Yes! you guessed it Manchester United! This time…… it was the same story as the Capital One Cup as a goal in each half one from Nijhuis and Fikejz sealed the club’s Second major trophy all in the same season!
This year’s Europa League we didn’t go straight into the group stage. We had to qualify with a 4-0 aggregate win over Turkish side Kasimpasa . which saw us into the playoff round. A 8-1 aggregate win over Austrian side Wiener Neustadt put us into the groups with Dinamo, Atalanta and CSKA. But 3 wins over Dinamo x2 and one over Atalanta saw us progress to the Knockout rounds. Where Ukrainian side Dnipro were easily beaten 3-0 on aggregate. Before a 2nd round tie with Manchester United. A second half collapse cost us in the first leg as we drew 3-3 with United scoring twice in the last 10 minutes. Then we drew 0-0 in the second leg and we went out on away goals.
Final Position: 4th in the PREMIERSHIP
FA Cup: WINNERS (Albion 2-0 Manchester United)
Capital One Cup: WINNERS (Manchester United 2-5 Albion)
Europe: Europa League 2nd Knockout Round (Manchester United a3-3 Albion)
As we prepared for Life in the Champions League we spent big but still brought in enough to cover the sold. Daniel Furnik after arriving for £1m left for £30m to Real Madrid. Ricardo Fernandes was a flop so we made our money back on him selling to Rotherham. Richie Mellish also left for Bournemouth for £10m.
Incoming was an interesting summer (really interesting if you still follow my @FMAcidphire21 twitter!) The major star buy was Victor Martin from Stuttgart for £14.75m. Eric Diallo also arrived for £14m from PSG. A couple of South Americans were brought in for £14m for Omar Rodriguez and Dario Villalba but it was the free signings of Dan Westley from Chelsea academy (with add-ons) and Liam Phillips from Gladbach were of most interest.
A great start to the season for us because in the first 13 games we dropped points only 4 times with a record of W9 D4 as we sat atop the table. Defeat to our good friends in the red half of Manchester allowed them to overtake us! Four consecutive wins kept us toe to toe with the red half of the city with the blue of Man City snapping away at our heels! We didn’t suffer defeat until the 1st of February though as Man City were the next team to beat us, dropping us into third. Despite a 4-1 over Bournemouth and 3-0 over Middlesbrough the most satisfying results were the 4-1 & 6-0 wins over Sunderland. But only two wins in the final run in saw us slide down to third and stay there’s despite flirting with the top this was our first real attempt at a title challenge and I think a couple of signings will see us claim the title!
Phil Armstrong’s appearances become less this year but in 19 games he still managed to notch 10 goals. The two main striker out of the three were Jan Nijhuis who got 25 goals in 34 games and Ettore Dussex who bagged 25 in 27. Victor Martin notched 12, with Rodriguez hitting 13 and Wallner scoring 14 as we had a system that we could easily switch strikers in.
We aimed to retain the Capital One Cup as we breezed through to the Quarterfinals beating Swansea 2-0 and Everton 1-0. A 5-1 win over Man City eased us into the last four. Despite a 2-1 defeat to Reading we still progressed to the final after a 3-0 first leg result. This time in the final we would play Tycoon led Cardiff City! It was an early goal that sealed it as Ettore Dussex notched in the 18th minute to see us retain the trophy!
It wasn’t the same story in the FA Cup however as despite beating Reading 4-1 in round 3 and then narrowly beating Norwich 1-0 in Round 4, a shock late penalty sealed progression for Grimsby! As they ran out 2-1 winners.
Our first taste of Champions League football was a good one! We sealed a group stage spot beating Dutch side FC Twente 7-0 on aggregate in the Playoff round. Before a group containing PSV, PSG and CSKA was dealt with as we took 4 points off CSKA and 6 off PSV to seal 2nd spot behind PSG,. The first KO round and a 3-2 win at home to Real Betis meant everything to play for in the 2nd leg but we eased that 2-0 to claim a Quarter final spot against BARCELONA!
Our first meeting with the elite of Europe and it went surprisingly well, as we claimed an easy 3-1 win in the Nou Camp, before winning 2-1 at home. The Semis were against fellow Premiership side Cardiff, and we failed to score in either leg with a 0-0 Leg 1 and a 2-0 defeat in wales meant we were out.
Final Position: 3rd in the PREMIERSHIP
FA Cup: 5th Round (Albion 1-2 Grimsby)
Capital One Cup: WINNERS (Albion 1-0 Cardiff)
Europe: Champions League Semi Final (Cardiff 2-0 Albion agg)
Not much in the way of deals this summer as we only tweaked our squad. Mikael Nielsen headed to Denmark for £7.25m and Ostergaard who had been instrumental but had lost out to Victor Martin was sold to Roma for £5.5m. Incoming was German Defender Alex Mayer.
Again we had a great start winning on the opening day, this time away at Watford 3-1. Eight wins in the opening ten games saw us again storm to the top of the table as we only dropped points at home to Cardiff (2-2) and away to Arsenal (0-0).
Six more wins in the run up to Christmas kept us top of the table and I was starting to believe we would win this. As three consecutive games we put 4 goals past sides winning 4-0 over Southampton and Liverpool and 4-1 over West Brom. A 1-1 with Man Utd the day before Xmas eve meant nothing to us as we continued the run with 7 wins from the next 8. Including wins over Cardiff (1-0) and Arsenal (3-0). Defeat ended that run as we went down to Man City by 1-0 but it was little to late as we picked ourselves up and continued to steamroll towards that first ever title!
As another 6 wins over the next 8 games kept us easily top, knowing we needed to beat Chelsea for the title. A 1-0 win sealed the title and we were officially the best team in England! Despite 2 defeats in the last 3 against Man United and QPR it didn’t take the shine off the season. This was the first time Phil Armstrong failed to make it into the team of the year, but Nijhuis notched 33 goals in 38 games, Dussex hit 23 in 41, Mohammed Mohammed became our Number 1 keeper over Marti.
A poor Capital one cup run this year as Arsenal forced us to Extra time where they edged it 3-2 putting us out in round 3.
The FA Cup wasn’t much better as a comprehensive win over Rochdale 5-2 put us in round 4 with Liverpool who were swept aside 2-0 at Anfield. But it was Cardiff who put us out 3-2 at home in round 5.
It was a much better experience in the Champions League as we were drawn in Group H with Anderlecht, PSG and Lazio. Two wins over Anderlecht, and four points from Lazio were enough to see us into the knockout rounds. A 5-3 win over Dinamo was enough to make it to the quarterfinals, where we faced PSG. Not feeling confident we had a massive surprise, winning 3-1 in France then 4-1 at home! The semi-finals for a 2nd consecutive year saw us take on Monaco. But an overwhelming 5-1 win in France was enough despite a 2-2 draw at home. Our first Champions League final at the Stade De France. And it was Jan Nijhuis who was the man of the moment who notched 2 second half goals to win the Champions League!
Final Position: 1st in the PREMIERSHIP
FA Cup: 5th Round (Albion 3-2 Cardiff)
Capital One Cup: 3rd Round (Arsenal 3-2 Albion AET)
Europe: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE WINNERS (Cardiff 0-2 Albion)
So that’s it we lifted our first ever Premiership title after 20 years of playing the game and our first ever Champions League trophy the same year. So after doing that what did I do next? Well I set about to become the most decorated side in club history.
The title for most times winner is Manchester United with 26 we are currently on 18. So eight more seasons to go. We hold the records for:
- The highest attendance 128,067. Highest ever attendance.
- Most games won in a row – 28.
- Most games without Losing – 122 (1st March 2051 – 15th April 2054).
- Most team points (112).
- Most team goals (153).
- Highest League goalscorer – Jason Foster (53), Most Assists Jason Foster (27).
- Youngest Goal scorer 15 years and 245 days Lee Mellish!
For the last 10 years I’ve been winning the title with ease as Man City finish 2nd and Ipswich, Cardiff and Everton all sharing 3rd and 4th place.
We have won the trophy 20 times, to become the most decorated side. Other records for us include;
- Highest Attendance 130360 v Sunderland!.
- Most games won in a row 25 March 2047 – Feb 2051.
- Most games without losing 125 Jan 2036 to present!
Capital One Cup
With 18 wins we are the most decorated side here too.
With 20 charity shields we are the most decorated side.
15 Champions League titles makes us the most decorated side
Club World Cup
13 Club world cups, makes us the most decorated side.
Euro Super Cup
14 Euro Super Cups makes us the most decorated side
If there’s anything anyone wants to know just let me know on @FMAcidphire21 and ill be happy to post screenshots!