Monday 17 January
Spare a thought for the ‘Ammers; this morning they thought they’d be appointing Martin O’Neill to save them from the drop. Instead they will be pretending they’d never do anything like that and backing Avram Grant to the hilt.
The reason? Martin O’Neill is an honourable man and when he heard his name linked with the West Ham job at the weekend, as Grant took charge against Arsenal, he realsied how shoddy it looked to be caught negotiating for someone’s job while they are still doing it and appears to have withdrawn from the talks. The price for leaking details of their scheming is that West Ham today confirmed their faith in Avram and will be sticking with him.
Meanwhile, Everton have accepted a bid from Spurs for Steven Pienaar. Underlineing how far our financial clout has softened – Spurs can offer higher wages to a makeweight squad player like Pienaar.
Tuesday 18 January
Pienaar duely signed on the dotted for Spurs where he will probably confound our opinion of him but, really, the man is no Mikel Arteta.
Wednesday 19 January
Frank Lampard limped out of training yesterday. The prognosis will have to wait until tomorrow but the depth of the squad has been exposed just by the thought he might miss the Bolton game.
News is spreading about a third bid for Benfica centre-back David Luiz this time reports our bid up from £17m to anywhere between £19m and £22m. Luiz is only 23 and won the Portuguese player of the season award last year as Benfica won their first title in five years.
The Lisbon club had wanted us to join a bidding war with Man City but the Eastlands behemoth have showed little interest so we might get our man. The only drawback is that he is cup-tied in the Champions League.
Leaks also suggest that the club will take up the option to extend Jose Bosingwa’s contract when it runs out in the summer and that Branislav is closer still to penning a new deal.
Ashley Cole is the sole English representative in Uefa’s team of the season most of the others come from Bacelona, Real Madrid and Internazionale.
Ruud Gullit meanwhile has a new coaching role in Russia with Terek Grozny. He might need to keep his head down as the ink on the ceasefire in the second Chechen war has only been dry for about a year.
Thursday 20 January
Chelsea youth 2:1 Arsenal youth
7,000 hardy souls attended this FA Youth Cup match at Stamford Bridge just to prove that there is a decent appetite for the game at this level when the fans are allowed in to watch.
It was Arsenal who took the lead in the first minute when Connor Clifford headed the ball into his own net but the Blues fought back and while behind at the break had created the better chances.
The second-half was only a few minutes old when Milan Lalkovic nipped between two dithering Gooners to slot in for the equaliser. With the match heading for extra-time it was the Slovakian winger, turned centre-forward for the night, who picked up an excellent ball from the schoolboy Adam Nditi and worked it onto his left before scoring from eight-yards (7.3 meters to those of you living in the modern world).
Saturday 22 January
Fulham youth 5:1 Chelsea youth
A bit of a return to normality for the youth team with five rested ahead of reserve team action later in the week a very young Chelsea XI were no match for Fulham in atrociously wet and windy conditions.
Three-nil down at the break the academy didn’t let their heads go down but they were further behind when Todd Kane scored another in his prolific season. It was some consolation but Fulham added a fifth, just to rub it in.
In the real world, Birmingham’s complete capoulation at Old Trafford means we are ten pionts behind. Arsenal won but Spurs could only draw and Villa beat Man City so we’ll have to continue to hope for slips and play a perfect end to the season to be with anything of a shout.
Before we forget, belated congratulations go to Deco and Juliano Belletti and the rest of the Fluminense team who won the Brazilian championship. The last action of the season was at the start of December but we have been very busy what with work, Christmas, New Year, the moment and our own bout of influenza which in Portuguese is sadly called gripe; hence Fluminence are not nicknamed the Flu but the rice powder. Reason’s for which escape us.