Trebor Mahtal wrapped up West Ham United’s time at Upton Park by winning five consecutive Premier League titles with an exciting young team led by the incredible Ronaldinho and Wayne Rooney. And a new era was upon the club in the summer of 2028, but their revolutionary manager may not be there to see it.
The club moved into the 51,135-capacity Bobby Moore Arena at the start of June 2028 and Mahtal began locking down his key players to new deals. But, come mid-June, his overperformance at the club had attracted the attention of one of the biggest clubs in European football. Parma came with an offer that upped Mahtal’s wages to £86k per week until 2032.
Parma have won the last two Serie A and three of the last four and won the Champions League in 2027. They also have a new stadium, having moved into the 43,875-capacity Nevio Scala Stadium in 2026.
They have an incredible array of players led by the likes of Lilian Thuram, Gianluigi Buffon, Juan Sebastián Verón and Fabio Cannavaro, plus a strikeforce of Hernán Crespo, Dwight Yorke and Ruud van Nistelrooij. They also have Dino Baggio, Mahtal’s former player Dani Alves and a few CM legends in Jefferson Farfán, Giuseppe Rossi and Florent Sinama-Pongolle.
There was also plenty of aging dross at the club, which Mahtal flogged for a profit of around £50m. And he replaced it with more exciting prospects, including midfielder Wesley Sneijder for £9.25m from Ajax and striker Karim Benzema for £13.5m from Lyon.
With the rich attacking options now available to him, Mahtal decided to go for it with a positive 4-2-4 formation with Yorke on the right and Baggio providing cover for the defence in a holding role that later became a Segundo Volante.
First Taste Of Serie A
There was no denying that Serie A is very much the strongest league in this database, even 6 years into the save. That said, Parma were fancied as favourites at 5/2 followed by Juventus (7/2), Milan (4/1), Inter (13/2), Lazio (9/1) and Fiorentina (12/1).
They started at home to Cagliari, dominated by 37 shots to 1 and eased to a 3-0 win with goals by Crespo, van Nistelrooij and Franca. A tougher game followed at Fiorentina but Yorke and a Crespo penalty had them 2-0 up inside 7 minutes and they nicked a 2-1 win, Franca, Yorke, van Nistelrooij and Crespo all scored in a 4-1 away thumping of Napoli and van Nistelrooij bagged a hat-trick as the same scoreline followed at Salernitana. So 4 games, 3 away days and a 100% record.
Another away day followed, that’s 4 in a row!, at Milan and the winning start ended as Crespo earned a 1-1. But that proved to be the only slip-up as they dominated the first half of the season, scoring 45 and only conceding 8 times in 15 games.
Champions League Progression
Mahtal was very much expecting to face West Ham in the league phase but avoided them in a decent set of fixtures in which the toughest test would be a trip to Arsenal. They began with total domination of Lyon but a 1-0 win through Crespo’s strike then defeated Liverpool 2-1 at home and thumped Brøndby 4-1 away. A 3-2 win at Monaco had them nearly through then a 3-2 win at Benfica before drawing 2-2 at Arsenal, which set a new Champions League record of 16 games unbeaten. But they lost their final game to Betis to finish 3rd.
The round of 16 took saw a tie with Stuttgart, which Parma took control of with a 3-1 away win then Suárez, Yorke and Benzema led a 3-2 home win. A heavily injury-hit team (with 8 players injured) took on Chelsea and still won 5-0 at home led by a Benzema brace, and eased through 1-0 away thanks to another Benzema goal.
That teed up an almighty clash with reigning champions Barcelona. First up was a trip to Camp Nou, in which Luis Figo and Rivaldo goals were answered by a Yorke consolation strike. The return leg was equally tight, with Barcelona responding to Benzema’s early opener and a Crespo penalty making it 2-1 after half an hour. And it stayed that way. But Parma blew them away in extra time as their stronger bench made the difference and França, Crespo’s second and a late Thuram header wrapped up a 5-1 victory to reach Mahtal’s first Champions League Final.
Chasing 3 Successive Serie A Titles
Mahtal returned to West Ham to snap up Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani for £13.5m, who was joined by another promising midfielder David Silva for £12.5m from Valencia and promising striker Luis Suárez for £4.3m from Nacional. Then on deadline day, he went back to West Ham to sign Sergio Ramos, who’d requested a move, for £21.5m.
Parma’s domination of Serie A resumed by battering Inter 5-0 led by a Crespo brace and Aquilani scoring a late 5th on his debut then hammering Lazio 4-2, which broke the Serie A consecutive wins record with 12. Crespo bagged a hat-trick in an easy win over Vicenza then a four-goal haul in a 4-2 hammering of Milan, which took them 22 league games unbeaten and set a new team record of 76 league goals – with 12 games still remaining! Then a 5-0 at Sampdoria set a new league record of 18 successive wins.
Another 5-0 win followed at Bologna before kicking on a level to set a new record Serie A win as they battered Empoli 9-0 with Cannavaro and França hat-tricks. A fully rotated side finally lost 3-0 at Atalanta but they quickly put that right by battering Roma 7-1 away led by a Crespo hat-trick with Cafú having a stinker.
Another Crespo hat-trick inspired a 4-0 win over Udinese that saw Parma wrap up a third successive title with 4 games remaining. Mahtal rotated for the last few games but had a couple more records in sight as they faced the bottom 2 in their last 2 games. They broke Torino’s Serie A record for most wins as a Benzema hat-trick led a 5-0 thrashing of relegated Salernitana. A week later, another record tumbled as they surpassed Torino’s record goal tally of 125 by battering Napoli 5-0, which relegated Napoli!
This was arguably the greatest season in Serie A history as Parma set new records for most wins (31), most goals (128) and most points (94) and tied Cagliari’s record for fewest draws (1). They also set a new record by racking up 22 consecutive wins from October to the end of March. Although an undefeated Perugia side of 1978/79 might argue their case for the greatest season.
Crespo was somehow 2nd top scorer with 37 in 28, only behind Filippo Inzaghi’s 41 in 32, but claimed a new Serie A record average rating of 8.24 to Inzaghi’s 8.22. Yorke led the way with 15 assists followed by van Nistelrooij’s 13 and Buffon kept a league-high 18 clean sheets in 31 games. And Verón won goal of the year for a vicious strike against Bologna. Furthermore, the Team of the Year was all Parma players except for Zinedine Zidane…
Champions League Final
Parma’s opponent in the Final was Real Madrid, who defeated Arsenal (who beat West Ham in the round of 16) 4-1 in the semis… at Santiago Bernabéu. Madrid were narrow favourites with a 34% chance with Parma given a 32% chance.
But Parma came out flying, hitting the post through Crespo before the striker made his second chance count by tucking home from 20 yards. A minute later, Madrid were in a world of trouble as Sergiy Rebrov was sent off for a shocking challenge. Benzema doubled the tally four minutes later, volleying home a delicious Verón pass, and Crespo made it 3-0 just before the break. van Nistelrooij came off the bench and scored within 3 minutes to cap a stunning 4-0 thumping.
AC Parma won the Champions League!!
Italy and Europe Dominated
Trebor Mahtal was delighted to wrap up the Champions League in addition to dominating the Italian league, which saw him win 6 straight league titles in England and now Italy. But this Parma really is something else.
The sensational Crespo topped the club’s goalscoring charts with 48 goals and 7 assists in 41 games and an average rating of 8.04. van Nistelrooij scored 30 followed by França (20), Yorke (17), Benzema (16) and Verón (9). While Yorke and França led the way with 19 assists followed by van Nistelrooij (15), Verón (11) and Júnior and Baggio (8).
Dominating Italy and Europe feels like a good place to bring this FM Retro 98/99 experiment to a close. But hopefully you’ve enjoyed this reminiscent step down memory lane in what really is a superb database by The Mad Scientist.
Thanks a lot for reading this FM Experiment series and stay tuned for much more FM23 content coming very soon!
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