SEPTEMBER 2008 REVISITED
Monday 1 September
Arsenal reserves 2:3 Chelsea reserves
First of September and already Underhill has a feel of autumn, as another big crowd of about 1,700 assembled to watch.
Didier Drogba played for nearly an hour on his return and looked so much bigger than the other lads it was a bit embarrassing. His touch was rusty but then he has barely touched a ball since the Champions’ League final, so you can forgive him that. He wasn’t the only player on the pitch who impressed; after a bright start from Arsenal in which they somehow smuggled the ball through a crowd of defenders to score, Stoch and Sinclair started running things. Scott Sinclair in particular was greedy with chances but somehow managed not to score until the second-half. Our equaliser came after an end-to-end period with plenty of chances, from strong work by Drogba wide left and a simple square ball converted by Tejera.
Beginning of the second-half and the tempo slowed but Chelsea’s passing didn’t, at times we had three or four waiting to convert chances. The substitute Michael Woods scored to put us 2-1 up, after a superb first-time cross to Stoch from new boy Fábio Paim and then Sinclair finished a rebound for 3-1 and it looked a possible rout when Stoch’s free-kick hit the inside of a post. They pulled one back from a free-kick but despite the siege they didn’t look like getting through again.
No Michael Mancienne was a disappointment but he’s probably talking loans somewhere it being deadline day.
Which uncomfortable segue brings us to the news that Manchester City signed Robinho for £32m and from under our noses. A slack day for all at Chelsea saw Berbatov join United without us even putting in a spoiling bid. City only had the dosh because they were sold over the weekend to Abu Dhabi United Group, a front company for the Abu Dhabi royal family, so City drop one man with a filthy human rights record for a group from a country with another; although Abu Dhabi’s record is about labour laws, domestic slavery and trafficking in children, rather than slaughtering entire families.
Robinho must be bemused by Chelsea’s inability to match City’s offer, his first game for his new club will be the, now comfortable, home win against Chelsea. With United signing Berbatov they look to be much tougher opponents and while City have problems elsewhere on the pitch they have prevented us from signing the only player we’d targeted. The music stopped and we had nothing. The season just got harder.
Tuesday 2 September
Don’t we look old this morning? As the club releases the Champions’ League squad lists – the usual names except Scott Sinclair who is ineligible for complex reasons – the nagging thing playing on our mind is the lack of money. Mourinho complained bitterly when there was £30m for Shevchenko but no more for anyone else, and then last summer we only really signed Malouda and this summer only two in and one of those over 30 (years-old, not millions). Perhaps Alex Ferguson was right, perhaps we are too old. With Wright-Phillips gone, and surely only sold because we thought we had a replacement, the average age of the first-team squad just took a leap. Throughout the team we seem to have players reaching their peak, with a smattering of youngsters. But our young recruits are pressing for places in the reserves not the first team.
Bickering aside, it has to be worrying that Abramovich seems not to have spare cash to invest in younger talent. Last summer we had a trading profit on players bringing in three free signings, this summer we’ve balanced the books by selling them on again. The club’s stated aim of breaking even in the medium term seems to be at the expense of recruitment of the talent need to keep us at, or near the top – this isn’t prudence, it is parsimony.
Tottenham and Man City suddenly seem to have hoovered up all the talent leaving both Chelsea and Arsenal looking over our shoulders.
Meanwhile Robinho turned up to have his picture taken with Mark Hughes and said he wanted to help Man City win the league, which goes to show how bemused he was by the sudden change of events yesterday.
Newcastle United meanwhile felt left out of the spotlight, so they announced that Keegan was sacked only he wasn’t and Keegan announced that he’d resigned only he hadn’t. So, is he still manager, wait and see who sits on the bench Saturday after next.
Friday 5 September
Michael Mancienne played the whole of England U21’s impressive 2-0 win against Portugal at Wembley. 27,000 punters turned out to watch. The England U21 side are guaranteed a place in the play-offs for next summer’s European Championship in Sweden.
Michael Essien was injured during Ghana’s 1-0 defeat to Libya in Tripoli.
Slobodan Rajkovic has been banned from Fifa competitions for a year as punishment for spitting at a linesman during the Olympics. Who said the Beijing games would be good experience for the youngsters. Rajkovic, who hasn’t actually been at Chelsea – currently on loan at FC Twente, was sent off against Argentina when the alleged spitting took place. He will, of course, appeal.
Talking of appeals, and seamless transition from one story to another, Adrian Mutu has lodged his appeal against the £13.86m fine imposed on him for taking cocaine. The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it would take about four months for their decision.
Saturday 6 September
Andorra 0:2 England
Joe Cole was over looked for a starting place and responded by scoring the only two goals of a shiftless performance. Elsewhere, Nicolas Anelka and Florent Malouda were part of an embarrassing French side hammered 3-1 by Austria,
Aston Villa youth 2:0 Chelsea youth
No repeat of the heroic youth cup win from last season, this game took an age to get started and when Chelsea finally woke up we were 2-0 down and the second-half was underway. Well, we’ve all had days like that.
Monday 8 September
Gianfranco Zola has been interviewed for the West Ham job and part of the interview was obviously multiple choice because Franco ‘ticked all the boxes’, according to a Hammer’s source. What do you think, four or five years management experience in East London before taking over the Chelsea job?
Tuesday 9 September
Rupturing an anterior cruciate ligament will do nothing for your season; Michael Essien will be out until Easter at the earliest. They can’t operate until the swelling goes down next week. Remember that next time someone is telling you footballers are all overpaid.
Meanwhile, Zola to West Ham looks a done deal although the wee Sardinian was saying nothing ahead of his Italian U21 side’s game in Croatia (late news extra: 1-1, the Italians progress to the play-off draw). JT said “He’s got a little bit more experience after managing Italy’s Under-21 side so it’d be great for him to get more experience at West Ham and hopefully one day be Chelsea manager”, which appears to be what everyone else is thinking too.
Wednesday 10 September
Croatia 1:4 England
Ah, the feel good factor, not something we have been accustomed to with the national side – and apologies if England are not your national side – but tonight blew the bloody doors off.
Rooney got one and some youngster from Arsenal name of Theo Walcott bagged a hat-trick in the best England performance for some time. Joe Cole was elbowed out of the game early in the second-half, needing stitches to a head wound inflicted by Robert Kovac who was dismissed.
Frank played much better in a more withdraw role and the space afforded by such an attacking line-up enabled him to perform far closer to club form; he was unlucky his effort was ruled out for a minor infringement.
Branislav Ivanovic and Nicolas Anelka both scored in Paris as France beat Serbia 2-1. Deco scored for Portugal as all our Portuguese lads played the whole of a 2-3 home defeat to Denmark.
At home and the soft heads at the FA have charged Sam Bethell and Chelsea over the fracas with Patrice Evra, we are going back to April now and there has to be a statute of limitation on handbags. Bethell denies any wrong doing, saying that he was just defending himself. The club are in trouble because they had not made Bethell aware that he was subject to FA authority in his contract. They’ll have to hold their hands up to that but Bethell’s name is being dragged through the mud as a racist when there is nothing but hearsay evidence, the FA should drop this matter soon.
Zola has accepted the West Ham job and the rumours have Steve Clarke joining has his assistant; Gigi Casiraghi will stay with Italy’s U21s.
Friday 12 September
Steve Clarke offered his resignation but the club have declined. We have to say that attempting to stand in Steve’s way after the twenty-years he has given the club seems extremely churlish. He has been offered a job by one of his friends and clearly feels he wants to move on to a different challenge; and good luck to him. The club maintain they want compensation and have not given West Ham permission to talk to him, in penny-pinching times at Stamford Bridge perhaps we need the cash.
Scolari said he had talked to Steve on Wednesday and offered him more responsibility. He added that something must have happened during the night because he heard this morning that Clarke had resigned.
We might be losing a coach but you have to feel for West Ham who gained a manager one day and lost a shirt sponsor the next; XL (the appropriate size for a Hammers shirt) holidays have gone bust.
Luiz Felipe says he turned down the Man City job in the summer, er, that’s it. He had offers from a lot of clubs after the Portuguese FA told him he could negotiate but he chose Chelsea.
Deco won player of the month for his first three games for Chelsea, let’s hope he can keep it going.
Saturday 13 September
Manchester City 1:3 Chelsea
Well, if he wanted to know what shade of blue he should be playing in now he knows. Robinho scored but looked out of sorts on an afternoon in which we dominated, with Liverpool winning against Manchester United earlier in the day we needed to win to stay top.
Robinho’s first few touches looked rusty but it is to early to judge the worth of a player who was playing in South America mid-week. His goal came from a dubious free-kick and a deflection from Obi John’s head so City fans shouldn’t get too carried away.
We equalised from a corner minutes later when Carvalho smashed home after a bit of ping-pong off Joe Cole’s bandaged head. And that is how it stayed until the break, despite Malouda heading against the bar and Anelka missing a near post header.
Frank Lampard’s goal was a touch of class, breaking from defence he fed Malouda who returned the favour and Frank shimmied past Dunne to slot across the keeper. Anelka’s goal was again a swift movement followed by a great through pass from Joe Cole (who, and we’ve said it before, is the best central midfielder at the club only he never gets to play there). John Terry was then mysteriously shown a straight red card, for a harmless tackle on Jo on the half-way line. He wasn’t denying a clear goal scoring opportunity, so the ref said serious foul play, which it wasn’t: he put his arm briefly across the player who took a few steps before falling over. Perhaps the ref was trying to even up next week’s game against United because Vidic was sent off at Anfield.
Drogba made an appearance to run some of the rust out his system, he looked well.
No sign of Steve Clarke on the bench.
Chelsea youth 4:3 Reading youth
Four goals before half-time for the younglings (sorry we’ve been watching Star Wars), the force is certainly strong in Borini who scored two and Mitrovic who was coming back from injury, but the pick was Jordan Tabor’s 30-yard free-kick. This was the youth team’s first win of the season.
Sunday 14 September
Steve is on gardening leave and while that will be great for his roses, we shouldn’t really be standing in his way. He has been a great servant especially over the last troubled year; you could say he’s held the place together. The club should take this opportunity to be gracious. Instead there are rumours that we are asking for between £1-5million in compensation.
We will be appealing John’s red card but it will do no good, remember his dismissal against Tottenham, they will throw it out and accuse him of lying into the bargain.
There are rumours of us snapping up Gareth Barry in January, or the Wolves wonder-kid Zele Ismail, or the Brazilian free-agent Mineiro, who is 33 already and apparently played an unofficial friendly for Arsenal yesterday.
Monday 15 September
Chelsea reserves 2:0 West Ham reserves
Gianfranco didn’t show up tonight and the whole thing had an eerily quiet but efficient feeling. Goals from Michael Woods and Scott Sinclair were the difference, with a lack lustre Hammers barely contributing to the entertainment. Woods scored a few minutes after coming on as a substitute just before the hour; Sinclair then did his dribbling act through plenty of challenges before finishing neatly.
Steve Clarke has joined West Ham; thankfully the two sides sorted whatever problems they had quickly. I wouldn’t bet on Clarke reappearing a few years down the line but for now we wish him all the best; he goes with every Chelsea fans best wishes after all he has done to keep the club together over the last year as well as the years of service he gave on the pitch. Steve remember started in the same side as Pat Nevin so his time at the club spans half a life time.
The club confirm John Terry’s appeal against the red card on Saturday. The FA panel deciding cannot downgrade a red to a yellow (nobody knows why) so the club will have to establish that the offence didn’t warrant a card. John was officially shown the straight red for serious foul play and looking at the wording of that law (any player who lunges at an opponent when challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force and endangering the safety of an opponent, is guilty of serious foul play) JT could plausibly, and with a good barrister, still get off. Clearly Mark Halsey thought he was covering his back when instead of a professional foul he said the card was for serious foul play. The law defining that offense states clearly that it is meant to prevent ‘excessive force endangering the safety of an opponent’, which, whatever John had in mind, wasn’t what he did.
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink retired today, he wasn’t offered a contract by Cardiff last month and has decided to call it a day. Jerrel (yes, his real name is Jerrel and no Superman’s dad was Jor-El) played for us for four years scoring about one-in-two. His last contribution was to claim that the Chelsea players were paid an illegal bonus in his autobiography, a claim that quickly went away.
Tuesday 16 September
Chelsea 4:0 Bordeaux
A comfortable night with some notable high points against French opponents who, frankly, showed us too much respect from the kick-off.
Frank opened the scoring nice and early from Bosingwa’s beautiful first-time in-swinger. Joe Cole contrived to head us two in front from a corner and everything was rosy.
Half-time produced a change in attitude from the Girondins, they pressed higher up the pitch and played as if they had nothing to lose and for half and hour it worked. Their shooting was almost all from range – Cech spectated – but our composure disappeared and Felipão was doing his nut as we gave the ball away in the middle time and again. He changed the team around to sort things out. Bringing first Ballack and then Belletti on and we regained some form of control.
The third goal came from beautiful movement and passing, Malouda finishing across the ‘keeper and the last touch of the game went to Anelka tapping in after Belletti smashed the ball from 30 meters only for the ‘keeper to tip it onto the bar, with the posts still rocking in the ground Nicolas tipped in his first Champions’ League goal in seven years.
In the morning an arbitration panel agreed with everyone else – that John Terry should not have been sent off against City, Mark Halsey has been relegated to Division 2 and, as a bonus, Alex Ferguson is livid. Told that Keith Hackett had intervened with Halsey to get the card rescinded he said: “if it had been a Manchester United player, Hackett would never have done this for us”; and a nice warm scarf for the trip home; chilly nights are setting in.
In the other group match AS Roma surprisingly lost at home to Cluj, 1-2. At least they got to underestimate the Romanians first.
Thursday 18 September
Ray Wilkins is our new assistant first-team coach. Butch returns after eight years away, he coached under Vialli, and will be a welcome presence around the place. We know some QPR fans who think him the grumpiest man on the planet after his time at Loftus Road, but he knows his stuff.
Meanwhile, spare a thought for Michael Essien who had surgery on his knee back in Lyon. A club statement said the operation was a success. We wish him a quick recovery.
Sunday 21 September
Chelsea 1:1 Manchester United
Both side left kicking themselves that they didn’t do better but in all fairness we controlled so much of the game and created the clearer chances; we should be kicking hardest.
United started brightly, taking advantage of a very sleepy opening from a Blues side getting over losing Deco in the warm-up and Carvalho after barely a ball had been kicked. Park snaffled a rebound that Cech should have held. United reacted to going a goal up like Stoke City would have only without the balls. They sat back and defended for the rest of the match, rarely breaking with any menace. We laboured; Joe Cole has a chance before they scored when one-on-one with van de Sar only to shoot wide – you have to admit, Joe has had a ropey start to the season – but for all our possession we looked blunted. United played Owen Hargreaves and Ji-Sung Park on Bosingwa and Cole and with Deco missing we looked stunted.
At the start of the second-half Drogba came on for the ineffective – again – Malouda, suddenly United were scared their bookings started to mount up as tackle after tackle rained in. The only surprise was that they didn’t have someone sent off. An automatic £25,000 fine is what you get for six booked on one match and they had seven.
When Ronaldo flipped himself up in the air to win a free-kick moments after coming on, some charmless berk (if a woman can be held to be a berk in anything more than the literal sense) decided it was time to tell the room that he is no worse than Drogba. When asked if she actually watched the game rather than talking about it she stood by her story: ‘Drogba dives as often as Ronaldo’. The true answer would require too much study but apart from a bit theatrics at the start of the semi with Liverpool in April and then he was trying to make a point, we don’t remember Didier diving last season.
Kalou eventually came on and levelled things us after Cole and Anelka had done their best to waste our clearest chances.
Ferguson marched on at the end to chin someone but restrained himself in time. He later said he didn’t think there had been a bad tackle in the match, forgetting, in his dotage, that cards are also given for persistent fouling and dissent.
Thankfully the twat who bottled their bus on the way home has been dealt with, you just don’t need to do that when we were clearly so much better than them.
Scolari said Mineiro should be a done deal by the end of the week. With Essien out for four to five months and Deco looking like a month perhaps we need a 33-year old squad player for a season.
Bristol City youth 4:1 Chelsea youth
Um, not a good day to travel hopefully for the youngsters. Sub Frank Nouble scored our consolation.
Monday 22 September
Rio Ferdinand will not face any further punishment after Mike Riley, always the weirdo, failed to report anything amiss after the final whistle.
Apparently not the old CISA flag but a spanking new one, we take it back, Still good to see fan power back at the Bridge. The little flag that we didn’t notice on the Matthew Harding Upper, will travel to away games.
Wednesday 24 September
Portsmouth 0:4 Chelsea
We stride on in our favourite cup, as Pompey settle for less than six. Chelsea’s control was almost total but it was against a side missing its entire midfield and demoralised from the weekend’s lost to Man City.
Frank Lampard opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Ballack was tripped, well, looked like he’d been tripped the replays didn’t clear it up but we should watch that he doesn’t get a reputation.
Florent Malouda then scored to add to his goal tally but he didn’t do much to add to the team, he is a worry but he does seem better than last year. David James then somehow palmed a cross onto Frank Lampard and in – he is big target – before Kalou popped in to add a goal to his fine individual performance.
Didier is starting to look sharp as well; he had a long range shot right at the start.
Carlos Luciano Da Silva is a Chelsea player at the ripe old age of 33; better known as Mineiro, he is not going to be fit enough straight away but has signed as cover for Obi John while Essien is injured.
Thursday 25 September
Tom Taiwo is back from Port Vale, a casualty of Lee Sinnott’s sacking. Does anyone actually call them the Valiants? If they didn’t have a fierce rivalry with Stoke City nobody would know where they were.
Talking of Stoke, Joe Cole is not going to be playing them on Saturday, seems he has a knee.
Friday 26 September
Liverpool’s reserves invited us to play in a friendly and the long road trip must have taken it out of them. After a good fifteen minutes we looked poor and lost 2-0.
Saturday 27 September
Stoke City 0:2 Chelsea
Chelsea put in a very solid performance against a side surprisingly without the wonder weapon of Rory Delap’s long throw. It isn’t often you regret a dangerous opponent’s absence (he pulled a hamstring in the warm up) but so much had been made of his throwing in the build-up that Stoke appeared an anti-climax.
José Bosingwa added to his meagre career tally (he is something of a Makelele when it comes to goals). The movement that led to his strike stunned the Stoke defenders; Bosingwa started the move, fed Lampard to Salomon Kalou back to Lampard chipped on to Bosingwa smashed into the net. Ballack had already had a few chances and Drogba, still looking groggy from so long out, almost flicked in on the turn one of Michael’s better passes.
Malouda crashed the ball onto the bar again in the second-half and Anelka eventually settled things after being gifted the ball by poor chest control.
Nobody knows what Sugar Ray Leonard was doing at the match, many had to ask their dad who he was, and nobody knows what Sugar Ray made of Alan Hudson.
Lunch time Carling Cup draw gives us Burnley at home, QPR travel to Old Trafford, Arsenal get Wigan and Liverpool get their usual easy away trip to Tottenham for target practice.
Chelsea youth 7:2 Ipswich Town youth
Better from the youth team after a porous start the season. Goals: Fabio Borini (hat-trick), Conor Clifford (two), Frank Nouble and Jacopo Sala.
Tuesday 30 September
Portsmouth reserves 0:2 Chelsea reserves
Portsmouth must be sick of the sight of us. Fabio Borini scored two for the reserves after stepping up from the youth team. Carlo Cudicini played the whole match but there has been no explanation for why he isn’t in Romania with the rest of the lads.
Fabio Paim danced around the Portsmouth midfield and pinged shots at their goal for fun but it was Borini who tapped in both goals. Everyone in the side had a fizzing shot at some point and the score-line did not reflect the total dominance of our reserves.