Tuesday 16 October
With England splashing out in Poland – the game has been rescheduled for tomorrow afternoon while you are at work there was just time to twiddle through the channels to tune in to Pat Nevin looking gloomy on BBC Scotland’s coverage of their game against Belgium. Wee Pat might have loathed his own country’s position but was he secretly smiling inside about the performances of the Chelsea boys – Courtois and De Bruyne started with Hazard coming on for the second-half – all of them looked in commanding form.
Meanwhile, England U21 side are through after winning a tetchy tie away to Serbia. Now here is a problem with racism in football that needs to be sorted out. After England’s late winner both crowd and opposition players started to have a go and a mass brawl ensued with players and coaches being manhandled and abused. If Uefa are true to form they’ll have to pay a trifling fine last time they laid into England the fine was £16,000.
Fernando Torres gave another of his interesting interviews this time he ended up praising Paulo Ferreira for always showing the right attitude, always training hard with a smile on his face.
Back in Poland as Brazil played Japan and David Luiz, Ramires and Oscar all played in a 4-0 win. Oscar did not score but it was his best performance for the seleção.
Branislav Ivanovic had a bad week. After losing to Belgium earlier his Serbia side were beaten by Macedonia, finishing the match with ten-men.
Wednesday 17 October
Poland 1:1 England
Reasons to sack Roy Hodgson number 12 in a series not stretching as far as the next World Cup. This was a shockingly inept performance from a manager who has already reverted to 4-4-2. His players stumbled through a winnable game against very poor opposition without presenting a goal threat. Roy happily dumped the system he had been using, opting instead for tactic his players are unfamiliar with and further compounded the problem by playing with no width at all. Players who never play long-balls with their clubs, spent the match trying to hoof efforts for Jermain Defoe, a player who never looks for a punted effort at Tottenham. Oddly Andy Carroll who would be suited to this Neanderthal tactic was on the bench throughout. We continually surrender possession and had no idea what we were doing.
Crucially, England under Hodgson look worse than they did under his predecessor and no better then the group who struggled with these tactics in the summer. We made Poland look like Brazil. Roy proved himself out of his depth in the second-half as his out manoeuvred midfield needed reinforcement he swapped his ineffectual strikers.
Roy will be England manager for the next cycle and his style is shaping St George’s Park: ensuring perpetual England failure at international level.
Thursday 18 October
John Terry has decided not to appeal the decision to label him a racist. What chance does he stand after all, when the panel he will face has been specially selected to find him guilty.
John apologised for the use of the words in question whatever the context. Herman Ousley from the Kick it Out campaign said he was disappointed that there was no “acknowledgement in it of the hurt experienced by the many people caught in crossfire during the past 12 months”, he went on “it does however form the basis of bringing closure to the matter sometime in the near future.” What more does he want, they have disregarded their own procedures to railroad a man found innocent by the courts, presented no evidence beyond a short video clip that certainly does not prove that John’s explanation is incorrect. They have achieved a ban and a substantial fine for an offence nobody witnessed and for which there is and has been from the start an explanation but they want more. What more is not clear, some form of tarring and feathering probably.
To add insult to injury the FA also fined Ashley Cole £90,000 for calling them a bunch of twats. Given that the chairman of the FA had already accepted Cole’s apology in person he clearly did not communicate that to the lynch mob in charge of the something-must-be-seen-to-be-done committee.
Honestly the behaviour of the FA toward Terry and Cole when the England U21 squad suffered real rather than imagined offence is bewildering. They can only shake their heads and frown about the Serbian FA, players and fans but they will move heaven and earth to tarnish the reputations of two of their own players. Their actions throughout have brought the game into disrepute. They ignored the decision of a court, they altered their procedures to bring a case, they tarnished the reputation of the England captain, they accused his team mate of lying without hearing any evidence from him, they then accepted his apology and allowed him to play only to subsequently fine him. To call them twats would be to diminish by association the female genital organs of all mammalian creatures.
Saturday 20 October
Tottenham Hotspur 2:4 Chelsea
That is more like it after a week of crap over texts and racism. This afternoon was practically perfect in every way, even allowing them ten minutes to dream of beating us before turning the knife.
Teams sheets don’t usually bring a sigh of relief but Gareth Bale was missing at the birth of his child and Moussa Dembele has a hip problem giving us a huge advantage before a ball has been kicked.
When a ball was kicked they couldn’t compete, we controlled most of the play and probed down the wings with Oscar, Hazard, and Mata all seeking the little through ball.
Clearly tired of this approach Gary Cahill decided power would be more effective and he thwalloped the ball in on the volley. 0-1. It was hit so hard Friedel didn’t even move.
The rest of the half was similar; Mata put a good chance over the bar when following up his own shot but clear chances were few and far between.
Tottenham started the second-half with more drive and determination first William Gallas gets on the end of a cross as everyone in blue looks at each other wondering who should have picked him up. 1-1 and then a scuffed centre from Lennon is thrashed intot he net by Jermain Defoe before anyone can really react. 2-1.
For ten minutes the home fans have belief and hope only for it all to be snuffed out: Juan Mata first latched on to a poor clearance and delivered a crisp shot from the edge of the box. 2-2; then Hazard reversed a ball into his path as Gallas looked befuddled and Friedel reacted slowly Mata passed to ball in. 2-3.
There was the odd scare but Daniel Sturridge came on to tap in a Mata cross and calm any late nerves. 2-4.
Wes it still four points clear at the top and while Di Matteo was right to suggest there will be tests in the coming months the reaction of the players to going a goal behind suggests that we are strong enough to deal with them.
In the morning Ron Gourlay and Bruce Buck went on the radio to confirm that JT is still our captain and to destroy the credibility of the FA panel over its criticisms of club secretary, David Barnard. They set out exactly how the panel had failed to understand Barnard’s role in the case and demanded an apology.
Wolverhampton Wanderers U18 2:2 Chelsea U18
Not a win but the boy’s first trip of the season was a good test and they managed to rescue their unbeaten record with two equalisers. Jesse Starkey from the spot and Reece Mitchell won a point.