Monday 27 May
Oh dear, Crystal Palace beat Watford in the play-off final, not underserved on the day but hands up who would rather take the train from Euston for a reunion with Gianfranco Zola than to Thornton Heath to squeeze into Selhurst Park.
Rafael Benitez accepted the Napoli job – expect a season of underachievement and excuses – as Walter Mazzarri moved up to be Internazionale coach. Learning from his mistakes Rafa described the Napoli fans as very special. They might not all be as happy by the end of his stay because he added: “I look forward to experiencing each and every one of the fans of Napoli.” It sounds like he has a different kind of deal than your conventional coaching role.
Oh dear, part two, Spain have selected Juan Mata for the confederations cup in Brazil over the month of June. Juan played all of the European championships and the Olympics last summer and now this. He will need a holiday at the end. Fernando Torres and Cesar Azpilicueta also made the party.
There is an Arthur Wait circle in hell just to the south of the City of Dis – but it is a very long walk with few busses.
Tuesday 28 May
Ashley Cole will captain England against the Republic tomorrow in honour of his hundredth cap, which was, er, in, um February. The situation was further explained by Roy Hodgson, who is not too old for this job, when he first announced Frank Lampard as captain for the match and then said Cole would lead out the team. Then he clarified that Cole could not have been captain for his 100th cap because it was a qualifier in March, when in fact it had been a friendly on February.
Rafael Benitez is the manager of Napoli. A club statement announced the interim manager had been released from his contract. There have even been reports that icon makers in Italy are now turning out Benitez statues; whether they come with pins is not yet known.
Wednesday 29 May
England 1:1 Republic of Ireland
What a colossal waste of everybody’s time. 4-4-2 is all Roy Hodgson really understands and its limitations were glaring tonight, as a team with both Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain had no width or penetration.
This was a further step back into the dark ages and the answer to the age-old question – why can’t England win tournaments – the answer is that we have been employing the same ancient tactical solution for nearly fifty years. It doesn’t work.
Appointing Roy Hodgson was always a retrograde step. He is a dinosaur. Foreign is not the answer necessarily as both Capello and Eriksson employed the same limited tactics.
What we need is a manager to identify what is wrong and develop an answer. Jurgen Klinsmann did it for the Germans after Euro 2000 while we have stood still or gone backwards. We have adopted West Germany’s kit but not their ability to think.
Frank Lampard made it six goals in six internationals this season and Ashley Cole was captain, after all that fuss. Both played well, as did Gary Cahill, who looks an England captain in waiting,
Talking of the dark ages – Mark Hughes has been appointed at Stoke. He represents the next step apparently.
Meanwhile in other football: Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne both played for Belgium as the humped the USA 2-4. Both were heavily involved while Eden Hazard is injured.
The first International champion’s cup match will take place in Indianapolis Thursday 1 August against Internazionale, AC Milan and Valencia make up the rest of our group. The finals of the competition are in Miami the following week.
Thursday 30 May
Andre Schürrle will be arriving for £20m and the loan of Kevin De Bruyne in the opposite direction. The German club have been clarifying things with their local press. Schürrle will sign when Germany are finished with international friendlies next week.
Friday 31 May
£50m took Radamel Falcao from Atlético to Monaco. The red and whites are managed by our old mucker Claudio Ranieri and have been involved in a recent bust up with the rest of French football over their tax arrangements. Given the number and profile of their summer signings it appears financial fair play, like income tax, does not apply in the principality.
Saturday 1 June
FC Bayern München have done it again; this time they beat Stuttgart in the final of the German Cup. München become the first German team to do a treble.
Meanwhile Jose Mourinho’s last game for Madrid brought a 4-2 win over Osasuna. He had a mixed reception to say the least but he made a point of going to say goodbye in front of the ultras, so he was hardly shirking.
Sunday 2 June
Brazil 2:2 England
Another disjointed England performance best summed up why Hodgson is doomed as England manager. Stung by criticism of the pointless blunt 4-4-2 he played against Ireland, here he swung the other way. And flooded midfield with bodies, Carrick was holding Lampard was deep and they were joined by, er, Phil Jones. It proves beyond doubt that is you play for United then Hodgson rates you because nobody could describe Jones as performing a useful role. He was slow to close down, not aware of what position he was supposed to play and lacked the touch to find anyone forward.
James Milner played because he is owned by Manchester City – he contributed what he always does, one forward run of promise blunted by a clumsy touch. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain sat on the bench.
To add insult to injury Roy preferred Leighton Baines to Ashley Cole.
This disjoined, imbalanced team was further hampered by the tactic of getting rid long. Presumably in the hope that fat boy Rooney would be able to do something. We spent the entire first-half on the back foot; managing two short spells of possession in the entire half. If this had been Brazil circa 1970 you could understand a defensive mood but this lot, though pretty going forward are a poor side that have been brushed aside by Argentina and Uruguay in South America. Yet Roy had not noticed and so we played with fear.
Alex Oxlade Chamberlain came off the bench to play a central role and scored an improbable equaliser before Rooney’s deflected shot saw us lead for a few minutes. It showed what an attacking attitude can get you against Brazil.
England will struggle to qualify for the World Cup and would be humiliated should we get there because we have the wrong manager playing the wrong tactics.
Joe Hart was man of the match by a long distance.
Meanwhile the Premier League, always competent and able posted a host story about Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea. Forgetting that they have to wait for an official announcement they posted the story early without significant details. They have apologised for letting the work experience kids run the organisation over the weekend.