Hazard celebrates against Spurs
Hazard celebrates against Spurs

Sunday 26 June
Ah, watching the Republic can be really frustrating – leading for the best part of an hour and just as we were all planning a quarter-final party, France went and scored twice and Ireland lost a man and the game dwindled to a defeat.
Germany looked no more than functional in easily beating Roy Hodgson’s nemesis Slovakia. The Germans breezed through a comfortable 3-0 win without scares or trouble. That is what you get when you have a competent manager and a settled and effective team.
Belgium really hit the heights in thrashing Hungary 4-0. Hazard was mercurial again, feeding forward play and taking his goal with aplomb. They might have peaked too early but are still worth a bet.
Lionel Messi hung up his international boots after missing a penalty in Argentina’s Copa America shoot-out defeat to Chile. It was the second tournament in a row the Argentines lost to the same nation in the same way. Messi is only 29 so there is plenty of time for him to change his mind.

Monday 27 June
England 1:2 Iceland
Well that was embarrassing. Roy Hodgson fell on his sword as soon as the game was over but not before our team was humiliated and thrashed. Iceland didn’t just win they had the better chances to extend their lead against a disjointed, incompetent England.
The scars from this will take years to heal.
Sadly the suits that appointed Hodgson will appoint his successor. These clowns were considering renewing his contract after a quarter-final match with France. Failing to top a group containing Wales and Slovakia was failure enough for them to realise Roy’s England were limping and directionless.
The last we will say on the matter is we told you so. What follows is copied from the diary in May 2012 –

Tuesday 1 May
After the least cheerful FA press conference ever. Basically all the questions started “why didn’t you appoint Harry Redknapp?” and “why have you given him a four-year contract when you are going to have to sack him in four-months?”, we’ve just worked out why the FA chose Roy Hodgson – he was the only candidate older than them.
Hodgson is a thing of the past. He is as wedded to 4-4-2 and, frankly, the football world has past him by. He will be an utter disaster and we’ll have wasted another four-years because they’ll refuse to sack him until it is too late.
By then we’ll be humming “50-years of hurt, never stopped us…”
Harry Redknapp might have cost more, Martin O’Neill might have been more volatile and Alan Pardew just a little bit dull but we would have stood a chance.”

Italy and our new manager on he other hand were magnificent in beating Spain. Using wing-backs Conte controlled the Spanish passing and menaced on the break. Italy were clearly superior and go on to a quarter-final against Germany who have never beaten them in finals.

Who’s going to replace Hodgson? Do you care? It seems likes it’s going to be a while before the FA make up their tiny minds.

Tuesday 28 June
Gareth Southgate has ruled himself out much to the disappointment of the FA board who had hoped to appoint the unqualified hopeless former Middlesbrough manager – sacked at the Riverside, so qualified for England.
The problem we have is that the FA are run by marketing executives who know nothing about football.

Wednesday 29 June
Sunderland 0:5 Chelsea
The women go the cobwebs of an extended break out of their belfries with a thumping win over a poor Sunderland side. Clair Rafferty got two.
Nathan Ake will spend the season with Bournemouth after his impressive break through at Watford last term. The club clearly feel Nathan has it in him to make an impression on the first-team after another season of adult football.
New professionals sign as Nathan Baxter, Trevoh Chalobah, Joseph Colley, Cole Dasilva, Harvey St Clair and Malakai Hinckson-Mars all put pen to paper on pro contracts for the first time.
The academy are back for pre-season and will fly off to Austria next week for warm-up games.
Malakai has a name commentators will love if he makes it all the way to the first-team.

Thursday 30 June
Portugal beat Poland after 120 minutes of football so boring we cut the grass, fixed up a dado rail, cooked supper and formed a team of negotiators to handle the Brexit negotiations.
Ah Brexit, we have made the nation great again by ensuring the next president of the United States of America will be forced to wave as Air Force 1 flies over London on its way to Brussels and Berlin.

Friday 1 July
Oh bolloc… Wales beat Belgium to ensure that not only the Icelanders are laughing at the English.
Eden Hazard was anonymous as a misfiring Belgium floundered. Gareth Bale didn’t even need to play well as Wales dominated the chances in the match.
Wale’s easy route to the semi-final just underlines what a colossal failure England managed by not topping that group.

Free agents have been let go today, so it is goodbye to Pato and Falcao – two strikers who did nothing but take up space.
Pedro will wear the departing Pato’s number 11 shirt next term.
Bradley Collins and Alex Kiwomya both signed contract extensions today.

Italy manager Antonio Conte before the game
Italy manager Antonio Conte before the game

Saturday 2 July
London Bees 3:3 Chelsea
(Bees win 4-2 on penalties)
A brace from Beth England wasn’t enough to stop the Bees knocking us out of the Continental Cup.

Antonio Conte will be able to take a few days off to recharge his batteries as Italy lost a penalty shootout to Germany. Honestly it was the worst shootout in years as player after player flopped wide, over or at the ’keeper.
Germany deserved it in the match after tiredness and suspensions limited Italy to hanging on for dear life. Their equaliser came from a penalty.

Michy Batshuayi
Michy Batshuayi

Sunday 3 July
Michy Batshuayi’s transfer from Marseille is complete. The Belgian striker came on late in their defeat to Wales but has a deserved reputation as a fast and powerful striker. The fee is estimated at about £33m, which in today’s market is a bargain.
France made Iceland look easy meat in beating them 5-2. It made England’s failure to muster a decent shot on target look even more absurd.
France will play Germany on Thursday.