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CM01/02 European Nights Part 3: My quest to restore Aston Villa to greatness

Winter arrives as Villa drop more points, welcome ‘Arry to Villa Park and experience mountain highs and sea-bed lows...

Aston Villa v Leeds
Ronnie is back!
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

For those who don't know, you can download the legendary Championship Manager 01/02 for free. For those of us, like myself, who were nine when this came out - you’ll get the chance to actually win something!

For me, it’s the chance to achieve something legendary with my favourite Villa players of all time - Mellberg, Barry, Angel, Dublin and Taylor, to fulfil their potential and match the legends of ‘82. After a September which saw Villa knocked out of Europe, it’s time to concentrate on the league.

I’ve also decided to move this to a quarterly update, since I’m out of Europe. Let’s see how it goes.

It’s time to win the European Cup. Eventually.

October 2001:

Away at Bolton, as I’m telling myself I’ll settle for a 0-0 and a point, Youri Djorkaeff puts the Wanderers in front. 1-0 to them.

Well. Chalk up some more dropped points.

A radio talk-show host criticises Alan Wright, so I phone in and defend my boy, telling the talk-show host how much I make a month and that I’ll buy the station and sack him if this carries on. My scouts also send me this hilarious snippet:

We pepper Charlton with six shots on target from Angel, Vassell and Moore, but are unable to win. Another frustrating draw. Following that match, Bosko Balaban, who is on loan to Dinamo begs to be sent back to England. I ignore him and laugh.

In the next game, things are going well against Newcastle, until we give away a stupid penalty. We crumble and lose 4-0. Absolutely battered. Afterwards, the Birmingham Mail lashes out at Ulises De La Cruz - I obviously defend him and get massive backing from the fans and my boss, Doug Ellis.

We round out October where we receive a visit from Harry Redknapp’s Portsmouth. Mellberg is caught in a nasty two-footer from Armin De Zeeuw, which I assume was intentional due to my downright refusal to talk ‘deals’ with ‘Arry. We get the last laugh as we hammer Portsmouth 3-0 after I bring on two more strikers and go with a front four to spite Harry, the tit. We finish the game with 21 shots. Have a bit of that!

And Olof’s only out for ten days!

November 2001:

November starts off well as Liverpool visit and dispatch us in another match we are running. I think I’ll start playing with two defensive midfielders. After the game, the press draw their knives out on De La Cruz, who I defend again.

I also get transfer bids for Paul Lambert, Tim Sherwood and Roberto Di Matteo rejected. One, by one.

Chelsea and legendary Italian Gianfranco Zola are our next task, I ask Ronnie Johnsen to boot the little pizza-eater. Ronnie gets sent off four minutes into the match for doing exactly that and Hasselbaink converts a penalty. Balls. Chelsea put three past us in the end. I threw this one away myself, with sweet visions of violence. I’ve spent the entire 86 minutes following the penalty waiting for this match to end and so it does. The sweet release.

I’m going to quickly skim over the loss to Birmingham City in the next match.

This is all falling apart. I give Steve Staunton a warning for his poor performances, he feels this is harsh. Fuck off, Steve.

Thankfully, we’ve got Rotherham in the League Cup 4th Round. That should restore some confidence in my abilities. Øyvind Leonhardsen, Lee Hendrie and Rufus Brevett (what) score to ensure we get through 3-1.

Villa and I visit Highbury and Arsenal on the 25th of November. I switch to a long ball approach, because Arsenal have serious firepower available in the form of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. They score in the first twenty minutes. We quickly equalise through Øyvind Leonhardsen, but Thierry Henry puts us to bed and tucks us in with another free header. At least we tried hard.

A vist from ‘Boro rounds out November, things seems to click as we score three goals in the first half through Stefan Moore’s brace and Steve Stone wonder goal. Stefan Moore grabs a hat-trick as we eventually run out as 4-1 winners. Poor bastards.


December 2001:

Well, shit.

I don’t think anyone likes me and to make things worse, we’ve just drawn Bolton in the FA Cup. That follows a League Cup Quarter-Final with Sunderland, which we’re aiming to win. Aiming.

Sunderland score within two pissing minutes. Then again after ten.

I give a few reserve players a run out, to make everybody happy. Then, things happen. Dion Dublin, who came on for Stefan Moore scores as well as Rufus Brevett (what?) and we’re back in at 2-2. Somehow, we take it to extra time and Lee Hendrie scores a great solo effort - I love him.

Sunderland equalises through a 113th minute free-kick - just n case you were thinking that everything was going too well.

But wait.

Haha! You fucking useless Macka-

Fuck. How do you concede the same set-piece twice in a minute?

This is just unfair. I’m not even the main character in my own pissing story.

Next up are Leeds. World class Leeds with all the good players. We put the bastards to the sword early on through goals from Hendrie and Stone. Leeds obviously score two in a minute after that. Mustapha Hadji scores a beautiful freekick just after half-time and now Ian Taylor is on the prowl, hoping to break Harry Kewell’s legs. We steal a win 3-2.

Kevin Keegan’s Manchester City arrive in Birmingham and I’ll love it if we beat them. Love it. Stefan Moore bags a hat-trick and it’s 3-0. Just like that, mate. Three wins on the bounce.

We keep the undefeated streak going with a 1-1 draw against Southampton where Steve Stone scores a last minute equaliser.

For some reason, the press has a go at Mustapha Hadji, I won’t be having any of this at fucking all. Considering that the dude has been our best player.

We visit Sunderland again, on Boxing Day. I’m looking for blood here. Of course, I lose one-nil, which of course sparks a protest outside the training ground. Aston Villa fans, eh? We can’t even beat Blackburn to round off 2001 and finish the year with a 1-1 draw.

January 2002:

The transfer window opens up and I can’t wait to rid myself of Peter ‘Shit-hands’ Enckelman. You might have noticed a recurring theme in which the opposition keeper saves every shot I take and mine doesn’t save one. Enckelman is ditched until further notice and I make a bid for every single Premier Division keeper in existence.

In terms of matches, we start the year off with a big 3-0 win against Tottenham. Stefan Moore is firmly establishing himself as my first-choice striker at this point and it’s his goal that seals the deal here.

The only deal that seems to go through for a keeper is my loan offer for Kasey Keller and he’ll start the next match against Bolton in the FA Cup. Stefan Moore and JP Angel get the job done. This is a great year.

Steve Stone tells me the day after that he’s joining Rangers at the end of the season. Does he also expect me to play him now? I put a £5m bid for David Marcelo Pizarro in, again and it’s delayed by the Home Office, again.

Everton are the next test and Ronnie Johnsen get’s injured again. He’s literally my best guy and he’s gone, again. Absentee. Luckily we win thanks to Hendrie, Vassell and Delaney (what). Easy three goals and we managed to contain Wayne Rooney to the single goal. Nice!

Of course, we savage Fulham 2-1 in the next game, but more importantly, it’s another derby. Wolves are coming down the road for the 4th round of the FA Cup. This might be our only chance to get into Europe this season. The Wolves fall 3-0 to three, yes, three Alan Wright penalties. We draw Walsall in the next round. Excellent.

The Home Office have also decided not to grant Pizarro his work permit, great work there lads. My bid for Joe Cole also falls through. I do need a midfielder, but thanks to the Home Office, I won’t get one. I make a panic bid for young Cristiano Ronaldo and for whatever reason, it’s accepted. I was specifically told not to buy him, but fuck the scouts. He arrives and I stick him straight in the reserves. The scouts aren’t going to get me a cheap midfielder that can get a work permit, so stuff them and their shit opinions.

Nice! Next up are Manchester United, that’ll be fun. We’ll clearly get smashed.