Monday 18 June
Fixtures – fixtures – fixtures – fixtures – fixtures – fixtures – fixtures
Wigan Athletic away – huzzah – well, ok not the most exciting start to life under Robbie’s permanent management but the longest journey start with the first, er, something.
It will not all be plain sailing as Arsenal away lurks at the end of September with Tottenham (away), Manchester United (home), Liverpool (home) and Manchester City (home) in the next six weeks. Still if you are going to be successful you need to beat them all. Our finish looks ridiculous with Liverpool, Manchester United and Aston Villa away in our last five games.
Fernando Torres played again for Spain as they crept through an easy group by beating Croatia. While Italy beat the Irish to progress at the Croats expense.
News too today that some enthusiastic staff may have dropped the pot with the big ears during a photo session. The club confirmed that the trophy had been sent to a silversmith for repairs but didn’t give much in the way of details.
Tuesday 19 June
England 1:0 Ukraine
Should we grudgingly admit that results have gone well for Roy Hodgson or point out that it has been despite his efforts rather than because of them? Nah. We will continue to pillory the guy because he put out an England side that made the Ukraine look like Spain for much of the first-half and persisted with Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck despite the fact that England with Glen Johnson and the returning Rooney can’t afford to carry any more passengers. Despite the evidence offered by Theo Walcott in the last game we stuck with James Milner on the right of our cramped and inefficient midfield for the traditional English reason that if a player is in form and hurting the opposition you put him straight on the bench and pick someone struggling to get forward.
Hart, Terry, Lescott, Cole, Gerrard and Parker carried the rest of the team over the finishing line because the Ukraine were so poor they couldn’t take the gifts offered by England.
France’s defeat to Sweden leaves them the game against Spain on Saturday while we wait an extra 24-hours to face Italy.
Ashley Cole set a new record for caps during tournaments with his 21st overtaking Beckham and Peter Shilton.
Uefa made themselves look small in the morning by fining the Croatian FA £64,561 for their fans racist chants. That is right Uefa – the guardians of the game in Europe – first denied racism was a problem, then swore blind they’d come down like the proverbial ton and then hand a national association a fine smaller than the one they handed Nicolas Bendtner for showing Paddy Power on his underpants. Uefa have a charge on their books of bringing the game into disrepute.
Wigan Athletic were not impressed with the £4m bid for Victor Moses. We faxed the bid at 6pm yesterday and Dave Whelan said we were taking the mickey. Whether he meant by waiting until after regular office hours or the amount offered we are not sure.
Wednesday 20 June
It took Sepp Blatter less than a day from England benefiting from a goalline decision to call for technology to make sure we don’t ever get the benefit of the doubt in future. The man has been implacably opposed to technology for a decade or more but now…
Didier Drogba has signed a two-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua to join Nicolas Anelka in comfortable retirement. The contract is rumoured to be worth around £10m a year. We’ve said I before but you will never see the like of Didier again.
Jacob Mellis signed a two-year deal with Barnsley and we wish him well. A versatile midfielder Jacob was sacked by Chelsea for letting off a smoke grenade at Cobham – after the air-rifle you’d half expect airport security at the training ground – and was in trouble with the bluebottles after an argument with his girlfriend left both accepting a caution for assault. At the time he was having a trial at QPR but Barnsley have got a very fine player. We hope he can now settle down.
Brighton and Hove Albion have announced a friendly with Chelsea on Saturday 4 August. What a brilliant idea, a trip to visit our old friend Gustavo Poyet, a nice stadium and a weekend by the sea what could be better in August, we should do it every year.
Thursday 21 June
Portugal and Meireles progressed at the expense of Petr Cech’s Czechs. We would always have one through from this tie but the Czech Republic looked timid and defensive and the big Chelsea goalkeeper had to bail them out several times. That international man of arse-wipe Cristiano Ronaldo scored the goal. Don’t worry he’ll be in tears before the end of the competition.
Friday 22 June
Germany wiped the floor with a very poor Greece 4-2. The scoreline at least has some respectability their play did not. Note to Roy: sitting with nine behind the ball is not a very dignified tactic if you get thrashed.
Saturday 23 June
Spain beat a weary looking France but did not play well despite the fulsome praise ladled on them by ITV. They could do little or nothing with the ball but were set up so solidly that France could not capitalise. The early Spanish goal was an isolated chance and the late penalty was harsh.
Sunday 24 June
England 0:0 Italy
(2-4 on penalties)
Another tournament passes by with moans about why we cannot pass the ball as well as them. Doesn’t matter if the them are Italy, Ukraine, Sweden, France, Belgium or Norway. We were dominated by all of them. The question is why?
The simple answer is that Roy Hodgson is limited and blinkered. He set us out in a rigid 4-4-2 and chose the wrong personnel. He then refused to acknowledge when his players were under-performing and picked them anyway.
Glen Johnson stank, Jordan Henderson shouldn’t have been in the squad, let alone on the pitch, Ashley Young’s contribution was woeful, Danny Welbeck was a passenger, Wayne Rooney was rusty. The team was carried by the rest but out numbered in midfield stood no chance. The headlines will be full of Andreas Pirlo but surely if someone is that good you could detail one of your strikers to sit on him? It is not as if either Welbeck or Rooney were so busy doing anything else.
Hodgson should be sacked this morning.
Once again – in Euro 2000 and then again in 2004 Germany crashed out and were so ashamed they rebuilt their football from the ground up. We have crashed out again and instead of acknowledging the problem we will wring our hands and complain that they pass the ball better than we do. Wake up.