JULY 2008 REVISITED
Tuesday 1 July
Yawn, it is dawn of a new era time as Scolari gets his feet under his desk and meets his new staff. The players aren’t in until next week but it is too hot to do anything other than sit inside and flick through internet sites anyway, possibly read a little, play a little solitaire, until you realise that something actually happened, no not Robinho from Real Madrid, Ben Sahar has been loaned to Pompey for six-months. The promising but unfulfilled Israeli striker had spells with QPR and Sheffield Wednesday last season but Harry Redknapp should get the best out of him. He’ll do well if he gets regular games behind Jermain Defoe, David Nugent and Kanu.
After that thrill and the news that Jimmy Smith is to spend six-months at Sheffield Wednesday it comes as a surprise to hear that Jose Mourinho has been cooling Frank rumours by telling the Italian press he thinks Lampard will be with him next season not this.
We should also note that it is Roman’s fifth anniversary today, which should be the wooden one. What can you possibly buy a multi-billionaire that is made of wood?
Final footnote on the day that officially marks the beginning of a new season is to say goodbye to Hernan Crespo who is no longer a Chelsea player. He obviously missed Italy so much he didn’t really want to be here but he still managed some cracking goals.
Wednesday 2 July
Roberto Di Matteo will replace Paul Ince at MK Dons. Our former midfielder takes Eddie Newton with him as a coach. Eddie had been doing some U16 coaching with Chelsea but joins the controversial Buckinghamshire side – both our ’97 Cup final scorers at the same club.
Thursday 3 July
Roman stepped down as governor of Chukotka according to Russian president, Vladimir Put… er, Dmitry Medvedev’s office. Abramovich did ask a few years ago if he could spend more time with his football club but then Russian president, and now puppet master, Putin said no. Roman was governor for eight years and invested heavily in building things to do in the capital, which now boasts a bowling alley and burger joint. Well, it is dark half the year.
Friday 4 July
Ryan Bertrand will be a Norwich City player until Christmas. Ryan played forty-odd games for Oldham and the Canaries last season and is one of those who will be looking to move on if first-team chances don’t start coming along soon.
Steve Jones is the new boss of the women’s team, presumably with a hanky on his head. All round good bloke, Shaun Gore stood down from the role at the end of last term. Jones comes from the all-conquering Arsenal set up. Also announced today, the signing of the England women’s internationals Anita Asante and Lianne Sanderson both, again from Arsenal. Mark our words, something is going on in the ladies and it doesn’t involve sharing cubicles.
Sunday 6 July
Scolari visited Cobham today and went through the usual pleasantries ahead of Monday when the squad return.
Among those coming back will not be Kaka from AC Milan despite today’s heads about an astronomical bid.
Monday 7 July
Inter faxed a bid for Frank Lampard of just under £7m, which doesn’t sound like enough. The move is just the start of negotiations and with the players back today for fitness tests we can hope the Scolari has a chance to persuade Frank to stay.
Tuesday 8 July
Luiz Felipe gave a debut press conference and couldn’t have impressed the British media more. He spoke in clear English and was candid in answering every question. Not a special one but so-so according to our new boss. He announced that he’d talked to Frank and Didier and that both were part of his plans. The effect was only slightly spoilt by Lampard’s agent immediately saying that things were still up in the air. The club have put out a statement rejecting a bid from Internazionale, even as Peter Kenyon and Frank have a public squabble in the canteen.
Wednesday 9 July
Steve Sidwell all but signed for Aston Villa today, he agreed terms and just waits on the medical formalities, and we’ll receive about £5m for him as widely reported for the last few weeks. Steve arrived as part of the club’s cost cutting free-transfer policy last summer and never really made an impression.
Slobodan Rajkovic is one of our players who has been on loan since we signed him, he was at PSV last season and his professional development will now be in the hands of Steve McClaren at FC Twente.
Thursday 10 July
Sidwell finally makes the move to Villa and rumours suggest that Ben Haim might be the next trimmed from the squad, this time Man City appear to have the readies.
Frank Lampard looks increasingly likely to be leaving, Inter have reiterated their interest and rumours from behind the scenes suggest he wants to leave, so we appear to have reached the point where it would be better to accept a deal and let a player, who has been a giant in Chelsea blue, leave for pastures new. If, for no other reason, than to ensure a dignified end to his career at the Bridge. Let’s not get into the kind of unseemly scrap that United and Real Madrid are in over Ronaldo.
Friday 11 July
Sky and Setanta finally announced their live games for the first four months of the season. Chelsea will be live, er, come on fingers do the maths, nine times between now and the end of November. The games are as follows: Sunday 17 August home to Portsmouth (Sky), Sunday 24 August away at Wigan (Setanta), Sunday 31 August home to Tottenham (Sky), Saturday 13 September away to Man City (Setanta), Sunday 21 September home to Manchester United (Sky), Saturday 18 October away at Middlesbrough (Sky), Sunday 26 home to Liverpool (Sky), Sunday 9 November away at Blackburn (Sky), Sunday 30 November home to Arsenal (Sky).
Barcelona are not so secretly rubbing their hands in glee at the £8m they got for Deco. According to under-pressure president Joan Laporta, Deco has consistently under-performed and selling him was “great-business”, Deco has recently completed a divorce which could explain why he looked like a player reborn at Euro 08, we’ll find out soon enough.
For those of you for whom first-team is just not enough, the stiffs kick-off with an away game with Arsenal and play their first home game at Brentford’s Griffin Park on Monday 15 September.
Talking of matters reserve, Jack Cork has been named captain of England’s U19 squad for the upcoming European Championship.
Saturday 12 July
Aldershot 2:2 Chelsea XI
Back and almost as if they’d never been away Gael Kakuta and Miroslav Stoch scored the goals for the stiffs. Stuart Searle saved a second-half penalty. It was a young side but a fitness exercise for those not on loan or international duty, the European U19s starts on Monday, in Jablonec, a Czech town elderly readers will remember. Kakuta signed his first professional contract last week and is on the fast track, his goal came towards the end when Stoch was injured and all the substitutes had been used. So, for 25-minutes this young side played with ten-men and nearly won it, conceding the equaliser five-minutes from the end.
There is always a satisfactory feeling on the day that Chelsea football starts up again after the break, sure they are only friendly and warm-up games for a month but it has started again, the great adventure that is a football season and, remember, last time it went to the very last game.
Sunday 13 July
Marseille fans have started a whip round to get Didier back, they raised $1.5m in just a couple of days but they’ll need $32.5m more and their web page has crashed.
Monday 14 July
Jacob Mellis, Carl Magnay and Shaun Cummings have all put pen to professional contracts. Have you noticed that Michael Mancienne hasn’t gone out on loan yet, could be his year.
Tuesday 15 July
Michael Ballack tied the knot at a registry office on Germany yesterday. And talking of things past, Wayne Bridge signed a four-year extension to his contract before Scolari was confirmed as manager, but they are telling us about it now – Harry Redknapp was probably on the blower.
Robinho is on our radar according to today’s reports but not for £48m.
Wednesday 16 July
Didier Drogba will make up his mind in the next ten days about staying or going. Presumably he wants to save himself a trip to the Far East. Meanwhile Jose Bosingwa was introduced to the press and said nice things about everyone and everything. The other Jose – Mourinho – said he’ll wait until the end of the transfer window for Frank.
Friday 18 July
The FA charged Patrice Evra with improper conduct after fighting with our ground staff; step forward, for some unwelcome fame, grounds man Sam Bethell, on the same charge. It is further alleged that Sam’s language made reference to Evra’s nationality or race. The club reacted furiously to that suggestion, saying there was ‘no foundation whatsoever’ to the charge.
Saturday 19 July
Hampton & Richmond Borough 1-0 Chelsea Reserves
Same as last year’s 1-0 reverse, the goal came as we arsed around with some pretty passing and they simply barged forward to score. Michael Mancienne played the second-half, the first time he’s had a Chelsea shirt on his back in two-years and he looked a class above the afternoon.
Meanwhile the Champions’ Youth Cup that was announced with such fanfare is not gong to take place after all, so the reserves are looking for alternative games, they’ll fly out to play Hajduk Split, who older readers will remember in black and white on Sportsnight, and could even play Manchester United.
Sunday 20 July
England’s U19 managed to beat Greece 3-0 but head home as Italy beat the hosts Czech Republic and both progress. Jack Cork will have gained form the experience of captaining his country for three games and the others get more tournament experience.
Monday 21 July
Claude Makelele signed for PSG and thus finished one of the most important and impressive Chelsea careers. Claude is 35 now and wants to end his career in his homeland and you have to wish him well. People scoffed at the extravagance Chelsea showed in spending £14.5m on a 30-year old from Real Madrid but Claude was the difference between good Chelsea sides and champions; the only player with a position named after him. Michael Essien and Obi John will have to deliver this season in his absence.
With the first team relaxing in their Chinese hotel ahead of the first match on Wednesday, it became clear that Drogba, Pizarro, Ben-Haim and Belletti all stayed at home. The suggestion is that Didier is injured and the others are finalising moves.
Petr signed for five more years, saying the club has grown in his heart, bless.
Meanwhile VfB Stuttgart will pay £4m for Khalid Boulahrouz after medicals, personal terms, yada.
Tuesday 22 July
Michael Essien has extended his contract by another five-years; we seem to remember him doing that recently, like, this time last year?
Wednesday 23 July
Guangzhou Pharmaceutical 0:4 Chelsea
LFS gets his reign off to a comfortable start with a win against weak Chinese opposition. The highlight has to be Frank Lampard’s delicious chip for the second goal. From thirty-yards out Frank looked up and chipped the keeper who was only on his six-yard line.
The first goal should have come earlier as a new, close passing, style created chance after chance. Kalou finally netted in the first-half, only for the post and keeper to keep it to one.
Jose Bosingwa was the outstanding performer of the first fifteen-minutes but was withdrawn to protect a slight muscle strain.
The second-half was much like the first, we hit the post three times and netted another two from Franco Di Santo and Shaun Wright-Phillips.
The was a good work out for the squad, only three played the whole game, who have been working on fitness more than tactics. The system already looks more Arsenal than Wimbledon, so one question about Scolari has already been answered. Apart from the passing the really noticeable change was the quick forward runs of defenders, the full-backs were pressed on throughout and central defenders regularly foraged forward; whoever replaces Makelele is going to have a lot of work. Deco on the other hand looks a fine player in fits and starts but is a yellow-card waiting to happen.
Meanwhile, back in Alex Ferguson’s mind for the start of the games, a Help the Aged spokesperson criticised Alex’s suggestion that the Chelsea squad is too old: “in 2008, age is no longer an acceptable yardstick to measure a person’s worth or potential. There’s a lot to be said for experience”. Which, er, means that Zola could still be pressing for a place in the team. The point she missed was that Chelsea and Manchester United’s starting XIs have the same average age.
Thursday 24 July
Anthony Grant turned out for the Shrimpers in a 1-0 friendly win for Southend away at Billericay Town. Reserve midfielder Grant was at Roots Hall on loan last season and might be making it permanent.
Sulley Muntari signed for Inter Milan from Portsmouth for about £12m, and why is he telling us this, you ask, well it could mean one of two things: firstly, that Inter have given up on signing Frank Lampard this summer; secondly, that Portsmouth have enough dosh to make a Wright-Phillips bid.
Friday 25 July
Chelsea U18 3:3 QPR U18
Odd game in which we struggled to make an impact in the first-half, equalised eventually, re-equalised with minutes to go and then conceded an equaliser ourselves after finally taking the lead in stoppage time. You can’t fault the entertainment.
Dave Hancock might have been sacked; Dave is, or was, the club’s physio recruited from Leeds about 18-months ago and much to the annoyance of Ken Bates. He must have had a falling out with someone. We say might have left because the story comes from the Daily Mail, and at least half their news is made up.
Have you noticed how the same stories are stuck on the transfer turntable; Barry is going to Liverpool, Ronaldo is going to Real Madrid, Robinho is coming to Chelsea and Burbatov is going to Man U, and they have been doing it all fecking summer.
Saturday 26 July
Chengdu Blades 0:7 Chelsea
We could have had more from our second work out in 35 degrees. The pick of the goals had to be Joe Cole’s brace. The first of which he scored with his first touch, the second he back-heeled in from a low cross. Anelka scored as well and Lampard added in the first-half. Shun Wright-Phillips deflected in his second at the end from a Malouda shot that was going wide. Jose Bosingwa flew home for tests on his thigh muscle that could keep him out for three weeks.
While all that was happening in China the reserves were beating Torquay United 0-1 with a first-half free-kick from Stoch.
Monday 28 July
Chelsea U16 1:0 Brondby U16
Milk Cup time of year on the north coast of Northern Ireland and one George Bowerman scored with a shot from the edge of the area.
Tuesday 29 July
Malaysian XI 0:2 Chelsea
Another good work out, with the Malaysian’s U23 squad testing Chelsea in defence, where we looked slow to close down and presenting a sterner defensive test. The pitch presented a few problems of its own, with erratic bounce. On such unusual hop left Wayne Bridge floundering as they nearly opened the scoring.
Nicolas Anelka scored again and looked quick to get in behind and Ashley Cole controlled neatly and finished well for the other.
The real bright moment could have given the game away on a set piece play ahead of the season, as Lampard chipped across a free-kick for Deco to volley from twenty meters, their keeper did well but the technique on show was breath taking; from Lampard to set it up perfectly, and from Deco to hit the target with the shot, top class. And so to Moscow for the railway cup. You can watch all of this on line for £3 a month, reserve and youth games, friendlies and highlights of the first team. It is worth it.
Chelsea U16 1:1 County Armagh U16
Late goal from Brendan Roger’s son, Anton saved our blushes but the result is not enough for us to qualify for the quarters. The competition continues with the BT Northern Ireland trophy. Good to see the boys in blue with yellow socks, takes you right back to a certain cup final replay in 1970.
Wednesday 30 July
Crumlin United U16 5:3 Chelsea U16
Chances are you’ve never heard of Cumlin Utd but they gave our boys one hell of a beating. We’ll now play off for minor places tomorrow.
LFS said today that Malouda will feature heavily in his plans for attacking craft in the side, saying he was wasted in the wrong role last season. Adding to the anti-Avram comments was Anelka who complained about being played out of position.
Ben-Haim signed for Manchester City for about £5m, making a total of £10m profit from last season’s free-transfers, so far. Tal never made much of an impact, looked panicky and frail as a defender. He had some strong words about Avram Grant as well.
All this on the day it is reported that Avram said he thinks Chelsea will win the league and be better than United and Arsenal with Scolari in charge. Perhaps it is time to lay off the guy.
Thursday 31 July
Aspire U16 2:1 Chelsea U16
The Milk Cup keeps getting worse for the U16s. Aspire hail from Qatar but had too much for our young side. We’ll play off for last place with Swindon Town.
MK Dons will start to become home for Chelsea loan signings, with Eddie Newton as assistant manager they’ll know all about our youth and reserve squads. Shaun Cummings is the first, the striker turned right-back has a one-year professional contract with us and will serve a month long loan which may be extended.