January began with the sale of striker Bjorn Amler for £19 million, after he’d struggled to only 7 goals in 18 league games so far this season. We had Kai Nennhuber and youngster Darko Vasiljevic waiting in the wings to replace him, so I wasn’t too concerned by the loss.
We began the year with a 1-0 win at Spezia thanks to yet another goal from Giacalone. And more silverware arrived as we defeated Inter on penalties in the Italian Super Cup, before defeating them 1-0 in the league with a goal from young academy product Simone Iafreni. That was part of four successive 1-0 league wins, which was blown apart with a 7-0 thrashing of Novara, which included a brace from Giacalone and another Zeller hat-trick.
That sparked a run of outrageous form with eight consecutive league wins. A couple of draws at Juventus then Milan saw us well set with a relatively easy run-in, and we took full advantage with 10 successive league victories. A 12th successive title was wrapped up with ease and we extended our unbeaten league streak to more than 100 matches.
Champions League exploits
Aside from the league, there was plenty of excitement in Europe. This began with being drawn against all-time record winners Real Madrid in the first knockout round. We lost the away leg 2-1 but bounced back superbly to thump them 4-0 at home with Aliyu scoring two goals in five minutes to set us on te way inside 21 minutes.
We then had Tottenham in the second round and it wasn’t looking great as we drew 0-0 at home. But away goals are vital in this tournament and a Vasiljevic second-half goal was good enough for a 1-0 aggregate win.
Our reward for that was Liverpool in the semi-final with the home leg up first. Things didn’t start well as Liverpool went ahead inside 2 minutes through centre-back Fran Sempere. But we came roaring back with doubles from wingers Zeller and Aliyu, only for Liverpool to get one back in the last minute.
We went to Anfield with a handy lead but doubled it inside 22 minutes through Aliyu again and a Giacalone penalty. A 3-1 win sent us through to a second successive Champions League Final!
We were up against Lyon in the final, who have firmly established themselves as the best team in France. Lyon got a great start as elite left-winger Said Macha scored inside three minutes and we went in at half-time 1-0 down.
A classic half-time rollocking saw the boys bounce back with striker Vasiljevic pulling us level on 51 minutes then captain Timmi Uldbjerg banging in a trademark free-kick strike three minutes later. Academy product right-winger Filippo Febbrasio then doubled our lead on 62 minutes but Vasiljevic made things comfortable on 74 minutes. Lyon got one back in injury-time but the damage was done and we’d wrapped up our sixth Champions League and defended the title for the second time in the save.
These latest successes saw Robi di Lathamé become the greatest Football Manager of all-time, climbing above the great Sir Alex Ferguson.