Crazy Gang | Part 23 | VSB: Crazy Gang Record Appearances Holder

AFC Wimbledon fans had yet another stunning season to celebrate as their heroes became Champions of England and Europe for an outrageous 3rd year in a row in the summer of 2039. But could they maintain the dominance to become officially the best club in Europe?

I decided it was high time we snapped up another legendary older player to inspire our young squad. This time we brought in 35-year-old Jude Bellingham for £6m from Dortmund, where he played a club record 536 league games. He still looks incredible, but could he be another Harvey Elliott?

No other signings arrived but midfielder Gary Bazerque departed, becoming the latest player to join Real Madrid for £55m, which was the same fee Leicester paid us for backup centre-back Luciano González. However, welocked star man Eli down to a new 5-year deal that keeps him at Plough Lane until 2044 on a whopping £425k a week, alongside new 5-year contracts for superstar goalkeeper Julian and left-back Nelson Pareja.

Bellingham’s arrival forced me to slightly tweak our 4-4-fucking2 approach, deploying him as an advanced playmaker and shifting the other midfielder to a box-to-box.

More silverware opportunities

The 2039/40 campaign kicked off with two glorified friendlies as we faced Liverpool in the Charity Shield and Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup. We ran riot on Liverpool with Eli scoring an amazing quadruple in a 5-1 thumping, along with a goal for exciting winger Ryan Clarke, to seal a 4th successive Charity Shield. But we rotated the side a little and lost out 3-1 to Madrid.

Seeking 5 in a row

Our grip on the Premier League title after 4 in a row was reflected by the media making us favourites at 5/6, followed by Liverpool (6/1) and new rivals Man UFC (8/1). And 5 of our players are in the dream 11.

We kicked off our latest title defence with a routine 2-0 home win over Southampton, which saw the old Crazy Gang approach alive and well as we were fined for collecting 7 bookings. Braces from Eli and centre-back Diogo Augusto led a 5-0 thumping of Burnley away before a 3-1 win at Rotherham with goals from Rodolfo Díaz, Eli and Augusto. Newcastle had plundered 10 goals in their first 3 league games but found Julian too tough a nut to crack as a Díaz strike nicked a 1-0 win.

The strong start continued as Eli bagged 2 goals and 2 assists in a 5-2 thrashing of Leicester before hammering Man City 4-0. But the winning streak ended at 7 as we drew 0-0 at Man UFC. Both ourselves and Liverpool were unbeaten after 11 games, teeing up a huge game at Plough Lane. We absolutely dominated and won 2-1 with an Eli penalty and Mateusz Wilk’s 1st goal of the season before an undeserved consolation.

That gave us even more confidence, sending us on a 9-match winning streak. That included club captain Valentin Schumann-Blaschke celebrating becoming the club’s all-time record appearances holder with both assists in a 2-0 win over Ipswich. His 332nd league appearance since joining for just £1.2m from Hamburg way back in 2029 took him past the mark set by fellow legend Andrés Araújo.

We remained unbeaten through to the end of the year, finishing 2039 with a 4-0 hammering of Man UFC led by an Eli brace. That gave us a 13-point lead over Leeds and Liverpool, who have a game in hand. Eli leads the way with 16 goals in 19 games, closely followed by Díaz on 14, who’s already had his best-ever goalscoring season and has a league-high 7.54 average rating. While VSB leads the league in assists (11) and Julian tops the clean sheets (10).

Champions League group progression

Our third Champions League defence began with a group alongside Barcelona, Rangers and Koln. We began with a trip to Scotland and 2 goals in the first 13 minutes by VSB and Eli were all we needed. We won our first 2 home games, easing past Koln 3-1 then an Alan Kardec goal nicked a 1-0 win over Barca. And we won the group with ease as Kardec, VSB and Eli strikes saw us win 3-1 at Camp Nou.

More major award success

Eli won the Goal 50 award for the 2nd time in November, with Javier Santamaría (10th), Wilk (14th), Pareja (25th), Díaz (29th) and Kardec (47th) joining him on the list. A month or so later, he bagged his 4th consecutive Ballon d’Or and FIFA FIFPro Player of the Year awards, with his strike partner Díaz coming 2nd, and a 4th consecutive FIFA Best Men’s Player award. Julian scooped the FIFA Best U21 Men’s Player, which is the 7th time we’ve won it in 9 years, but came 2nd to Araújo in the big goalkeeping awards. And Santamaría, VSB and Eli made the FIFA FIFPro Team of the Year.

Premier League domination

We strengthened heading into 2040, bringing in a protégé for Díaz in fellow Uruguayan wonderkid striker Diego Vecino for £3.9m from Penarol. We added much-needed depth with wonderkid goalkeeper Mikkel Kristensen for £8m from Brondby, midfielder Robbie Verelst for a hefty £25m from Antwerp and midfielder/full-back Joares Rocha, who looks like a regen of Gabriel Menino, for £13m from Palmeiras.

We began the new decade in style as an Eli hat-trick and Kardec brace sealed a 5-0 win at Brighton. That was followed by 3 London derbies in a row, which started with a poor 0-0 at home to West Ham before improving to win 2-1 at Spurs thanks to a Kardec double then dominating Chelsea 3-0 with the underperforming Apostolos Papargyriou finally scoring his 1st of the season after 30 appearances.

Díaz had already been having the season of his life, having never previously scored more than 14 league goals in a campaign. But he reached new levels with a hat-trick and 2 assists for Eli in a 5-1 hammering of Burnley then another hat-trick in a 3-2 win at Southampton. Not wanting to be outdone, Eli returned from a knock to bag a hat-trick of his own in a 4-0 win at Ipswich and 2 more in a 3-1 win over Leeds, who scored their only shot on target.

Chasing more European glory

We got the best second-round draw against Bodo Glimt and demolished them 7-0 away led by Díaz smashing a new club-record 5 goals and a VSB assist hat-trick. I threw in a backup 11 at home and we still won 2-1. The quarter-finals looked tougher but we made light work of Chelsea with a 4-0 home first-leg win thanks to braces by Eli and centre-back Daniel Pacheco. A 2-0 away win courtesy of Wilk and Díaz eased us through to the semis for the 5th time in 6 years.

Next up was a repeat of the 2037 final as we took on Atlético. The home leg was first up again and we absolutely dominated with 33 shots to 7, preventing Atlético from having a shot on target. But we were a little wasteful and a 2-0 success thanks to a Wilk brace was probably a little disappointing. The second leg was more even with both sides having 17 shots. But Atlético found Julian in inspired form, making 8 saves before substitute Wiltgen scored the only goal in injury-time. And that took us to a 4th consecutive Champions League Final!

Invincible season on the line

We’d gone 29 games unbeaten in the Premier League, which was tested by 2 tough away days in early March. First up we went to Arsenal and Eli scored the only goal on 51 minutes to move us 12 points clear with 8 to play. Next we went to Anfield in a potential title decider and we had that man Eli to thank for an 82nd-minute equaliser, which earned a 2-2 draw in a game Liverpool dominated.

We finally lost our unbeaten record with a 2-1 loss at home to Fulham, having taken the lead through an Eli penalty – which took him to an outstanding 200 league goals for AFC Wimbledon. But we bounced back to thump Norwich 4-0 thanks to a rare brace from midfielder Gonzalo Santos and a less rare one from Díaz. Liverpool drew 0-0 with Chelsea to move us within touching distance of 5 titles Lucasin a row – especially given Liverpool’s tricky run-in.

Our run-in wasn’t exactly easy, especially as it began with Eli, VSB, Kardec and Papargyriou all injured. But still had enough to defeat Sheff United 3-1 with goals by Pacheco, Lucas Wiltgen and Joerie Ploem. At the same time, Liverpool drew 1-1 at Arsenal, taking us 13 points clear with 4 to play.

AFC Wimbledon won a 5th successive Premier League title!!

We rotated heavily and blooded youngsters to accommodate the European games and, for the first time in years, we lost 3 in a row. But the first team returned to celebrate another title win in front of the Crazy Gang faithful and did so in some style as Eli set a new club league record with 5 first-half goals in a 6-1 hammering of Leicester.

We still won the league by 11 points, finishing on 90 points with 28 wins and 6 draws. Eli topped the goalscoring chart with 34 in 31 games and Díaz was 3rd with 24 in 35. Eli also topped the average rating with 7.68 followed by Kardec’s 7.58 and VSB again had the most assists with 16. Unsurprisingly, Eli defended his English Football of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year and Best Player in Europe awards. While Julian won Players’ Young Player of the Year and we had 8 players in the Team of the Year, which bizarrely didn’t include VSB.

4 Champions Leagues in a row?

For the 3rd year in a row, the Champions League Final was contested by 2 English sides. This time our opponent was Man UFC, who are now managed by Marcus Rashford – who I openly revealed my dislike for in the build-up to the game. Rashford’s side saw off Milan 3-0 in the semis but only finished 9th in the league. Both sets of fans made the trip to Bayern’s Stadion Munchen.

We came into the game with a clean bill of health but UFC were missing star striker Bosanac. We lined up:

Julian; Santamaría, Pacheco, Augusto, Pareja; Kardec, Santos, Papargyriou, VSB; Eli, Díaz
Subs: Wilk, Hammond, Deliblacanin, Ploem, Wiltgen, Palmer, De Mello, Clarke, Vecino, Rocha, Bellingham

We started on top and had 3 shots before Díaz strike was ruled out for offside on 20 minutes. But then UFC had a man sent off for a second booking on 34 minutes. It looked to be drifting to halfway at 0-0 but, on the verge of half-time, Díaz was tripped in the box and Eli confidently tucked home the penalty.

We continued to dominate in the 2nd half without creating any significant chances. That was until the 69th-minute when Ostoja Deliiblacanin came off the bench to cross for Kardec to nod home at the far post. Pacheco soon smashed a header against the bar but, after probably the most one-sided Champions League Final ever with 27 shots to 1 and 3.71 xG to 0.00, we settled for a 2-0 victory.

AFC Wimbledon won a 4th consecutive Champions League!!

Season Review

This has been yet another brilliant season for AFC Wimbledon. We’ve well and truly established ourselves as not only the dominant team in England but easily the best in Europe.

The main man behind our success, as always, was Eli. The little Italian passed 200 league goals for the club, scoring an amazing 44 goals in 41 games in all competitions at a 7.64 average rating and winning fans’ player of the season. Pushing him close was Díaz, who got 31 goals and 13 assists at a 7.51 average rating, and Kardec, who scored 21, got 13 assists and won fans’ young player of the season. While VSB led our assists with 23 as he moved to a club record 348 league games for the club.

Despite the obvious positives, Bellingham was a disaster of a signing with 0 goals and 2 assists in 43 games and his midfield teammate Papargryriou was largely ineffective with 1 goal and 6 assists in 46 games. In fact, the central midfield positions remain our main troublesome area.

Our success at Plough Lane saw me surpass Bob Paisley as the most successful English Football Manager of all time with 6 Premier Leagues, 4 Champions Leagues, 1 Europa League, 2 UEFA Super Cups, 1 Carabao Cup and 4 Charity Shields. However, I’m only the 7th best in England, 11th best in Europe and 12th best in the Worldwide Hall of Fame.

Furthermore, this season’s success saw AFC Wimbledon rise to the top of the club world ranking, above Real Madrid, PSG, Juventus, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Man UFC and Atlético. And that, to me, means mission accomplished with the Crazy Gang.

So after 19 years of management and with 5 consecutive league titles and 4 consecutive Champions League wins, this feels like the right time to bring the Crazy Gang save to a close.

We’ll conclude the save with a review looking back at the best players from down the years. So join us next time for a bit of a nostalgic reflection!

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