Altrincham F.C. - Mission: Champions League

Oct 4, 2017
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New Year’s Day saw us beat relegation threatened Huddersfield 1-0 and with other results going our way, we went into 1st position in the Premier League.

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For the first time ever I actually thought “we could win the Premier League”

So I thought the nerves would hit us in the next game against Crystal Palace and we would drop points. But we didn’t.

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Then our centre back Adie Higginson was ruled out for 10 days with a virus.

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It meant that he would miss his first league game for us since March 2028, he's played 113 league matches in a row!

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Since Higginson last missed a league match, we have been relegated, promoted, finished in 8th and are now top of the Premier League!

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That disruption to the backline could have led to us dropping points in our next game against Leeds. But we didn’t.

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Maybe having just a two-day gap until our game against Wolves would finally see our winning run end? Nope.

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Did a heavily rotated team get an unhelpful draw against Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup? Yes.

But I couldn’t care less. January has been an incredible month for us.

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We are top of the Premier League… by 4 points!

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Our next game is probably the biggest of the save yet (2027 FA Cup Final aside) as we play away against second-placed Arsenal.

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But even if we lose that match, we’ll still be top.

Are we actually going to win the league?
 
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In the excitement of the last post, I forgot to mention the January transfers.

Throughout January our starting right back Pascual Rodriguez was linked with Real Madrid.

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He’s a good player, but wouldn’t be first choice at Real Madrid. Nevertheless, they put in a bid and when I suggested £45m they accepted. I can’t really stop Spanish players from joining Real Madrid.

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And if we’re thinking about the future, Rodriguez is never going to be a top Premier League player.

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He leaves Altrincham after 4 seasons at the club and we made a nice £32.5m profit on him.

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To replace him we bought in Ivan from Sao Paulo. He’s your typical Brazilian wonderkid regen and cost us £18.5m.

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Elsewhere, Luke Wordsworth has joined Brentford for £3m.

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We took a hit on the transfer price, but he was bought to get us promoted and did just that. His one and only Premier League goal for the club was a last minute solo effort at the Etihad to beat Man City.

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But to be honest the transfers were the last thing I cared about. Our game against second-placed Arsenal was all that mattered.

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We lost a game in which we could have, and probably should have, won. It was our first defeat in 13 in the league.

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Then West Ham at home happened.

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It was just one of those games.

A big, big match followed away against Southampton. If we lost this then the wheels would well and truly be starting to fall off. Thankfully we actually took our chances this time around.

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We only played those 3 league games in February, but things are really heating up now at the top of the table.

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We’re 6 points clear of 5th place Man City but Man Utd, Chelsea and Arsenal are all breathing down our necks.

Chelsea away in March is going to be a real challenge but we should be getting maximum points from the other 3 games.

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Also, due to injury to our backup keeper, I gave 19-year-old Steve Peel-Evans a start in the FA Cup 4th round replay against Sheffield Wednesday. I’m pretty sure that he is the first-ever player from an Altrincham youth intake to appear for the club.

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He kept a clean sheet and new signing Ivan scored on his debut, so it was an excellent result all round.

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To be honest, I don’t care about the FA Cup this season, it’s all about the Premier League. It’s getting nerve-wracking now, and we’ve still got 11 games left!
 
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March 2021 started off with heartbreak as we conceded a last-minute equaliser to Sheffield United courtesy of VAR.

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It was made worse by the fact that Kimborough Bennett was injured in the game and was ruled out for a month.

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He has 7 goals and 9 assists (which is the second most in the division) and forms part of our ever-improving front 3 containing him, Murillo and Thiago Ryan (both of whom have 12 goals and 4 assists this season).

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The Sheffield United result meant that 1 point separated the top 4 teams.

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And our next match was away against Chelsea

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It was a reminder of just how much we’re punching above our weight. Chelsea’s squad is littered with world-class players and they made it show.

However, we did the job in our next 2 matches against Villa and Norwich.

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Another decent month was then capped off with an FA Cup quarter-final win over Man City.

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We could’ve got Villa or Portsmouth in the semi-final but will instead face Chelsea.

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As we head into the March international break, this is what the table looks like. (I forgot to take a screenshot so I mocked up one in Google Sheets)

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We are still top but Man United and Chelsea could join us on 64 points if they win their games in hand. However, they play each other next up so a draw will be a perfect result.

What’s more interesting is that they will also play one another in the Champions League quarter final.

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Not having European matches could well work in our favour as we will play Man City in April in between their Champions League games with Barcelona.

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I’ve really done my best not to look too far ahead this season, but our last 3 games are going to be excruciating. We face Spurs and then Man United at home on the last day of the season.

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There are just 7 games to go and we could quite easily finish 7th despite being top of the league! Having said that, we could also do the domestic double…
 

TheMaestro

Member
Nov 26, 2019
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Incredible save this mate, loved the layout all the way through! Any chance you could attach a save file to download? I'd be interested in having some fun with a 2031 database.
 
Oct 4, 2017
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Incredible save this mate, loved the layout all the way through! Any chance you could attach a save file to download? I'd be interested in having some fun with a 2031 database.
Here's a link to the save in April 2031: https://gofile.io/d/sUAVHI

And here's a link to the save in June 2027: https://gofile.io/d/Xqqp35

I've kept a saved game from 2027 because Oxford have just been relegated from the Premier League so I thought it'd be interesting to take over them because of the parachute payments etc. Also, Bristol City have just been relegated to League One and have a number of really promising young players so I thought they'd be an interesting team to manage as well. Or you could try and keep Altrincham in the Premier League, which I failed to do!

Let me know if you have any problems downloading the saves.
 
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Oct 4, 2017
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Our first game after the March international break was at home against Burnley, who were bottom of the league. A routine win was expected.

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And a routine win is what we got. Thiago Ryan scored his 7th goal in 5 matches and the result also helped massively with goal difference, which could play a big part in things this season.

With a few teams still having games in hand, this is what the table looked like as we prepared for our trip to the Etihad.

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Remember when Leicester went to the Etihad and won 3-1 in 2016?

Well, we did our own version of that.

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What a win! We absolutely smashed one of the best teams in Europe!

The only downside was that Bennett was ruled out with injury (again) and he’ll likely be out for the rest of the season.

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The small matter of an FA Cup semi final against Chelsea followed… and we only went and beat them too!

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This season has been truly mental.

We’ll play Villa in the final who are 19th in the Premier League so that makes us huge favourites.

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Our final 2 matches in April were at home to 15th placed Newcastle and away to 9th placed Everton.

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Thank you William Murillo. Given that we still have Spurs and Man United to play, it was important that we got at least 4 points from the two games.

And so we have just 3 Premier League games remaining and are top by 2 points.

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We play both Spurs and Man United at home in May and, after spending so long at the top of the league, we could still conceivably finish in 5th. I’ve never known a run in like it.

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So it all comes down to our remaining 4 games.

Are we going to win the Premier League? And are we going to win the FA Cup?
 
Oct 4, 2017
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May 2031 - we had just 3 Premier League games remaining plus an FA Cup final.

Our first match of the month was at home to defending Premier League champions Spurs. I was hopeful considering that we beat both Man City and Chelsea last month without conceding a goal.

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But we missed a golden opportunity to win the game. We played with an extra man for 40 minutes but just couldn’t make it pay.

The result meant that Arsenal went top of the league on goal difference and 1 point separated the top 4 teams.

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For the first time in a few months, the title was out of our hands. What is crazy is that Arsenal still had to play Chelsea...

...and we still had to play Man United.

But before that, we had our 37th league game of the season away against Brighton.

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They gave us a scare, but a ballsy performance ensured we got the job done.

All eyes turned to the Arsenal-Chelsea match. A draw would be the ideal result but a Chelsea win would do as well.

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Oh come on!

Arsenal remained top on goal difference courtesy of that win.

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All our hopes and dreams were pinned on 16th placed Crystal Palace who faced Arsenal in the final game of the season. We also had the enviable task of trying to beat Man United.

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I wanted to concentrate solely on beating Man United, but it was hard not to notice the Palace-Arsenal score

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And in the end, the score at Selhurst Park didn’t matter.

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We were so close! SO CLOSE!

But Arsenal were crowned champions of England.

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We had to forget about the Premier League heartbreak quickly though, as we faced relegated Aston Villa in the FA Cup final. We would not get a better chance to win the competition for the first time.

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And we were absolutely ruthless.

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6-1 flattered us but I couldn’t care less. Altrincham have won the FA Cup!

A hattrick from Thiago Ryan along with a brace from Firmino (who is on loan from Chelsea) as well as a rare Adie Higginson goal resulted in us getting our first piece of major silverware.

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To be honest if we lost the final I think my heart would have shattered.

What a crazy season it has been, there’s a lot to cover in the recap!
 
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Well 2030/31 was a crazy season to say the least. It started with us hoping to push for a Europa League place and ended with us winning the FA Cup and being disappointed to finish second.

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Our very thin squad did us proud this season. 6 of our first choice starting 11 were with us in the Championship!

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Thiago Ryan is finally living up to his potential with 20 Premier League goals and a hattrick in the FA Cup final.

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Adie Higginson also scored in the FA Cup final, which was fitting for a player who has made over 200 appearances for the club. He has also just been named in the England squad for the first time.

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Captain Felix Baker was named the Young Player of the Year for the second successive season.

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Another success story was William Murrilo who got 14 goals and 6 assists in the Premier League from an inside forward role on the right.

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Whereas Ryan, Higginson, Baker and Murillo were all with us in the Championship it is our 2 defensive summer signings that excite me the most.

Oleg Bondarenko is already worth £54m after we signed him for £35m

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And Hector Pozos is now too good to be left out of the team. He only started 2 league matches last season but will be our first choice next year.

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And finally, Zac Fryatt is still going strong for us. He started in the FA Cup final and has made 280 appearances for the club, scoring 80 goals.

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He signed for us on a free when we were in League One and his contract initially contained a £2.7m release clause. I will make sure that he plays Champions League football for us next season!
 

Alan2168

Member
May 30, 2020
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Fantastic effort and I feel your disappointment on coming second... good luck next season in Europe and maybe going one step better in the league?!
 
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Fantastic effort and I feel your disappointment on coming second... good luck next season in Europe and maybe going one step better in the league?!
Yeah it was a bit gutting to be top for so long but I can't really complain about finishing second. And balancing Domestic matches and European matches is going to be interesting so I'm not expecting us to compete for the title again, but we'll see!
 
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The last post took a look at some of our players at the end of the 2030/31 season so I thought I’d give some more general updates before we head into our first season in the Champions League.

Firstly, our youth category rating is now at Step 1, meaning we have some of the best youth facilities in the country.

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Our under 18s won the double last season albeit in the Development League with the under 18 sides of Championship and League One clubs. It will be interesting to see how they fare against the best academies in the country next season.

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As for the first team, there are some quite remarkable stats which show just how impressive it was that we finished 2nd in the Premier League.

Firstly, we had the 18th highest wage expenditure in the league.

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And were one of a handful of teams to make a net profit on transfers last year.

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Only 22% of our turnover was spent on wages, which was the lowest percentage in the division.

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We have £177m in the bank and the board are giving £77m of that to us for transfers in the summer.

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It’s fair to say that we are an incredibly well-run club!

But our policy of buying players on the cheap is about to change...
 
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It’s transfer time again, and we have splashed the cash.

Transfers Out

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Firstly, we made £51m from selling 4 players who were backup, which was very good business all round.

But it’s the transfers in where it gets interesting.

Transfers In - £167m

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That’s right, we have spent £167m on transfers!

Firstly, we triggered the £30m optional clause to buy Srdjan Radmanovac from Spurs after he spent last season on loan with us. That’s a good price for an English wonderkid and I also think he will be decent cover in the inside forward role on the right.

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Central midfielder Juan José Vázquez joins for £19m from Pumas. He becomes the second Mexican wonderkid at the club

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Higor arrives from Gremio for £21.5m. A left back was needed and he has room for improvement but should prove to be a good signing.

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Cyril Ferreira signed for £16m and will be our 4th choice centre back. He joins fellow Swiss centre back Djuric at the club, who was also signed for £16m from Basel 4 years ago!

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Two seasons ago, I very briefly mentioned the fact that Championship side Brighton had spent £80m on an 18-year-old who had not made a first-team appearance.

That very same player was the top scorer in the Premier League last season.

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Michael Adjetey was available for £75m. So I went for it.

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Meet Michael Adjetey. He now plays for Altrincham.

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His contract is ridiculous, his fee was ridiculous. But it just felt right to sign him.

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An England international and Premier League golden boot winner before his 20th birthday. The £75m fee will be paid over a number of years and I plan to keep Michael Adjetey at Altrincham for a very long time.

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He was one of the players to make his Altrincham debut in the Community Shield, which we lost 2-0 to Arsenal.

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And despite the influx of signings, we are still predicted to finish in 7th position.

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Hopefully we can push for the Champions League places again. It’s going to be interesting to see how we adapt to playing two games every week.
 
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August 2031 is complete and we have won 3 of our 4 opening matches.

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We actually started the season with a poor draw against Wolves but then defeated Man City at home, with record signing Adjetey scoring twice.

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What’s worrying is that we haven’t kept a clean sheet yet, but we can’t really complain about being second in the league.

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For the first time in the save, we will be competing in Europe and the Champions League group stage draw has been made. We were seeded 4th because we had 0 coefficient points…

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And we have been given an interesting group against Porto, Napoli and Leverkusen.

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The German side are the strongest opponents but I actually fancy our chances of getting through to the knockout stages.

Our summer spending was really put into context when I saw that we were the 5th biggest spenders in Europe!

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Of course, most of that was on Adjetey (who already has 3 goals and 3 assists) but it is William Murillo who is our top scorer in the Premier League with 4 goals. He’s in his 4th season at the club and is developing into a seriously good player.

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After the September international break we will face Bayer Leverkusen away in our first ever Champions League match!
 
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Our first ever Champions League match (and our first ever game in European competition) ended 1-1, which was a decent result.

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However, our second match in Europe ended 4-0, which was an incredible result!

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2 seasons ago Thiago Ryan couldn’t buy a goal, now he’s turning into one of the best strikers in Europe.

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In that same Champions League gameweek, Chelsea beat Olympiakos 12-0!

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And in the October international break, 4 Altrincham players were named in the England squad.

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Our captain Felix Baker picked up his first cap for England against the Faroe Islands.

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I remember signing him in the Championship and believing he’d play for England. Now he's the captain of a Champions League team!

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He came back from international duty to get an assist for Altrincham in our 3rd Champions League group stage match against Porto.

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A 3-1 win against the champions of Portugal put us in pole position to finish top of our group.

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So, you’d think Champions League form would come at the expense of league form? Far from it.

We are top of the Premier League and unbeaten but all the other big clubs are so strong that they’re keeping up with us.

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The only downside to the season so far is that we were knocked out by Norwich in the League Cup.

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But we’ve remembered how to keep clean sheets again and look to be in a title challenge once again.

What could possibly go wrong?
 
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Our 4th group stage game against Porto saw us win again in the Champions League.

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A hattrick from Thiago Ryan put him on 7 Champions League goals in just 4 matches. He also finally got a callup for Brazil, but is yet to make his debut.

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Despite the comfortable Champions League progress, we suffered two losses either side of the November international break to Everton and West Ham in the Premier League.

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Players being involved in 2 games a week, as well as matches for their country, has added up and resulted in injuries occurring more frequently, so there was no way we were going to keep up our unbeaten run forever.

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We could’ve really slid down the table with a loss to Arsenal. But once again, we beat a big team at home.

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That’s Arsenal, Tottenham, Man City and Liverpool who we’ve beat so far, but we still have to play all of them away from home this season.

But for now, it’s looking like the title race is going to be just as mental as it was last year.

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So things suddenly seemed rosy again in the league, and a draw against Bayer Leverkusen in our next Champions League match would clinch qualification with a game to go.

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And a draw is what we got, with former Altrincham player Carrasco scoring against us (he was awful for us in the season we got relegated from the Premier League).

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To be qualified as group winners with a game to go is more than I was expecting from our first Champions League campaign.

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I’ve mentioned Thiago Ryan a lot this season, but him Murillo and Adjetey are the Altrincham version of MessiSuarezNeymar.

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And it’s helped when they have supply from right-back Oleg Bondarenko, who already has 9 assists this season and is attracting interest from Barcelona.

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The games come thick and fast in December, but I’m hoping we’ll still be challenging for the title by the end of the month.
 
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With qualification already confirmed, I decided to give 2 special players a rare appearance for Altrincham in our final Champions League group stage match against Napoli.

Connor Stanley was the first.

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He has literally been with us from the National League North to the Champions League and played in every competition along the way.

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The other player to start in that game was Zac Fryatt.

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He’s in his ninth season at the club and was instrumental in 2 promotions from the Championship as well as featuring heavily in our FA Cup winning run last season.

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We actually won 2-0 to ensure that we remained unbeaten throughout the group stage.

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And we will play Atletico Madrid in the 1st Knockout Round.

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They sit 4th in La Liga, which is the position they finished in last season, so it’s a winnable tie.

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However, the Champions League was the only good part of December. We have seriously struggled in the league, drawing 4 matches against mediocre sides who we would normally beat comfortably.

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A win against Chelsea on Boxing Day was much needed to keep us in the race for Champions League places, but it doesn’t look like we’ll be challenging for the title this season.

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The front 3 who I lauded in the last post have lost their mojo after a blistering start to the season and William Murillo has not scored in 13 games, which is starting to get alarming.

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We have 3 tough away fixtures (versus Spurs, Chelsea and Man City) in January so my worry is that we could be struggling to stay in the top 6 by the time we play Atleti in the Champions League.

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So it might be a painful month for us, but finishing in the Europa League places will not be a bad thing at all.
 
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Our unpredictable league form continued as we beat Spurs 2-0 on New Years Day. Our record against the top 6 teams has been exceptional throughout the season.

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But then we got hit with bizarre news. 6 key first-team players, all from South America, were called up for their under 23 national sides to play in Olympic qualifying matches and there was no way we could stop them from going. Ridiculous!

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Thiago Ryan, Claveria and Murillo are 3 of our most important players and they were out for the whole of January.

So that resulted in losses to Chelsea in the league and Bournemouth in the FA Cup.

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I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have things like this in the game. There’s no way we should be losing 6 first-team players to an Olympics qualifying tournament midway through the season. The fact we got a 2-2 draw with Man City was a miracle.

Anyway, they’re back now and will join us for our remaining 12 league games where we’re just about still in the Champions League hunt.

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However, all I care about at the moment is our Champions League 1st Knockout Round encounter with Atletico Madrid.

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They’re 3rd in La Liga but have one of the best players in the world in William Faber as well as Bruno Henrique, the Brazilian striker who is keeping Thiago Ryan out of the national team.

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Can we make history and get Altrincham to the Champions League quarter-finals?
 
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Our team for the first leg against Atletico Madrid contained 6 players who were with us in the Championship... And two of those players put us within touching distance of a Champions League quarter-final.

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What a result! Thiago Ryan and Murillo found their shooting boots at long last (must’ve been the Olympic qualifying tournament that did it…) but goalkeeper Panariello was crucial in the match, making 7 saves.

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How could we possibly top that win against Atleti?

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We absolutely smashed Man United, who were top of the league at the time. That’s how.

Juan José Vázquez had one league goal for us before the match but scored a hattrick out of nowhere.

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We were on cloud 9 after those two results, so it was about time we got brought back down to earth.

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Star striker Thiago Ryan was ruled out for the season. It could not have happened at a worse time or to a more essential player.

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Some of the results we’ve had this season have been crazy. We’ve dominated top teams yet struggled against weaker teams in the division. Our next match against Crystal Palace highlighted that exact problem.

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It’s becoming a joke how bad we are against weaker teams but thankfully we managed to beat Newcastle 3-0 by going for a shorter passing game.

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It prepared us nicely for the second leg against Atletico Madrid. Key players Thiago Ryan and Claveria were out injured but that was no excuse as we went into the game with a 2-0 aggregate lead and away goals on our side.

In the end, we Diego Simeoned a Diego Simeone team.

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We have guided Altrincham to the Champions League quarter finals!

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Of all the teams we could’ve played in the quarter finals, we were drawn against Bayer Leverkusen - who we played in the group stage!

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We drew both of those games 1-1, so it really could go either way. The winner of the tie will face either Celtic or Chelsea in the semifinal

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Despite the loss to Crystal Palace, it’s been a good start to 2032 for us on the whole.

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Chelsea have been in really poor form, so we are back in 4th place with just 8 games to go.

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Despite Thiago Ryan’s injury, £75m signing Michael Adjetey is repaying back the big fee and has 21 goals this season, 18 of those have been in the Premier League.

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If he’s on form, then we could be in with a serious shout of making a Champions League semi-final in our first season in the competition!
 
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Before our quarter-final against Leverkusen, I noticed some news.

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Their best player by miles, Thomas Braun, was ruled out of both legs with an injury.

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It was a massive boost for us, especially as their star striker was sold to Barcelona in January as well!

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We were without our star striker Thiago Ryan through injury, but I really fancied our chances in the first leg.

We could not have got off to a better start.

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Adjetey scored for us within 2 minutes and we absolutely dominated the game from that point.

But the score remained the same.

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I have no idea how we didn’t win by more. It feels weird to be disappointed that Altrincham won a Champions League quarter-final match but we should have done better.

I was admittedly a bit worried going into the second leg. But we actually took our chances this time.

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What an emphatic win! We’re into the Champions League semi-finals!

And our opponents will be Chelsea.

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The same Chelsea side who have the best striker in the world. Ryan Armstrong is the top scorer in the Champions League with 12 goals.

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And the same Chelsea side who we are battling with to secure 4th place in the Premier League.

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But I can’t really say that the league is a priority. We’re in a Champions League semi-final with Altrincham!
 
Oct 4, 2017
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Throughout the Champions League campaign, I have played the exact team that got us to a 2nd place finish last season in the Premier League (with Adjetey deputising for the injured Thiago Ryan).

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5 of the 11 were with us in the Championship and were now starting in a Champions League semi final!

Centre back Higginson and central midfielder Houbaine were the two players who probably wouldn’t be in the strongest Altrincham XI. But they’ve kept on delivering in the Champions League this season and so deserved to keep their spot in the team.

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The first leg of our Champions League semi-final against Chelsea was at home. We needed to minimise damage and just still be in the tie for the second leg.

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A game of two halves. The old cliche. But it could not have been more true.

Two second-half goals from William Murillo ensured that we were still in it but that we needed to perform wonders at Stamford Bridge to progress.

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Apparently Chelsea were expecting a routine win.

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And it appeared to be that way when they opened the scoring.

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We were unlucky to be behind at half time and so I told the players that. They responded to my words of sympathy quite well.

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Houbaine repaid the faith I’ve shown in him by putting us ahead on aggregate. As things stood, we were going through to the Champions League final!

But at this point, Moise Kean had been introduced as a substitute.

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It finished 2-2 in the first leg, and after 90 minutes in the second leg, it also finished 2-2. This Champions League semi-final was going to extra time!

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But we had dominated the game, limiting Chelsea to just 3 shots on target.

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The first goal in extra time was Route One in its purest form.

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The ball was booted to Kean, who took it down and slotted past our keeper Panariello to put Chelsea ahead.

We needed a goal and so changes were made. But they did not have the desired effect.

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Football you cruel, cruel game. The goalscorer of the fifth goal Romeu Firmino was on loan with us last season and contributed to dumping us out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage.

Chelsea dominated extra time, but it really was a missed opportunity for us and losing 7-4 on aggregate was not an accurate reflection of the contest.

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So the final will be contested between holders Barcelona and Chelsea.

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And if Chelsea win, I’m guessing that they’ll go into the Champions League next season ahead of us even if we finish 4th, which is looking likely.

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Our final 2 games of the season are away against Liverpool, who are 1 point from first position, and then Brighton at home, who are 1 point ahead of the relegation zone.

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I still can’t get over that second leg against Chelsea!
 

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