Monday 11 June
England 1:1 France
A surprising performance from England – not the shape of the team or the organisation but that, for once, they didn’t look completely knackered. In South Africa two-summers ago everyone looked utterly tired. Here in contrast we under performed because we were playing 4-4-2 with Welbeck as the spear head – he barely got into the game and surrendered possession with every touch – and Ashley Young as our number 10 who drifted in and out of focus. Oxlade-Chamberlain was hampered by his position – wasted in it really – and Gerrard and Parker folded far too quickly into the defence stepping on toes and getting in the way.
The reason we were not soundly drubbed was that France were themselves poor and unimaginative.
The Ukraine stunned Sweden in the other game. Andriy Shevchenko scored two cracking second-half headers to give the co-hosts a 2-1 win. Wonder how much a striker like him would cost.
Roberto Di Matteo will be offered the Chelsea job when he returns from his holiday. After leaving it this late – just to build the excitement and suspense presumably – Chelsea will make an announcement this week.
It seems Eden Hazard spoke to Robbie before putting pen to paper so his appointment cannot have been in much doubt.
Di Matteo now has to turn his hand from winning the European Cup to beating Everton and Villa away.
Tuesday 12 June
We’ve signed another Belgian whiz – this time from Anderlecht in the shape of Charly Musonda Jr and his brothers Lamisha and Tika. Their father, Charly Sr, was an international for Zambia but his club refused to release him for the World Cup qualifier with Senegal in 1993 when the entire team crashed into the sea.
Lamisha is already a Belgian U21 international. Tika is the least accomplished and will presumably be sold to Barcelona when his brother Taka is born.
In Poland Petr Cech will be happier tonight as the Czech Republic over came a valiant Greek revival aided by his blundering the ball to a Greek striker to set nerves jangling in the second-half. His colleagues held on for a 2-1 win that gives them a chance of progressing if they beat Poland.
The hosts played an altogether more emotional game against the Russians in Warsaw. Creating the better chances in the first-half they trailed at the break only to level with the goal of the championship so far by Blaszczykowski. Try typing that when you’ve had a few.
Rangers slipped into administration to the delight of Sky Sports news who don’t have footage from the Euros and so talking heads in Glasgow are a boon. What happens now is uncertain. The SPL clubs will have to re-elect them if they are to play in the top flight but they might not have a playing staff as everyone is free to leave if a new company is formed.
Wednesday 13 June
Roberto Di Matteo is the new Chelsea manager. He has been given a two-year contract. It will probably be difficult for Robbie to achieve more in the next two years than he has in the last two months but it will be interesting to watch him try.
At the Euros Germany beat the Netherlands 2-1 just to prove that Premiership football can work on the international stage. In 2000 they lost to us in the Euros and sat down and reorganised their football from youth, through U21 to the national team and based their rebuilding on the Premiership’s fluid 4-3-3. In contrast England had an appalling Euro 2000 and we appointed Stuart Pearce to run the U21 squad because, presumably, we thought tactics would hurt their little heads and appointed anyone who would play a 4-4-2 as first team boss. Despite the fact that none of England’s players will have encountered such an outdated system anywhere other than the England team.
We are stubborn like that. They laugh at us you know, the rest of the world.
Talking of laughing, Harry Redknapp has been forced out of Tottenham. Taking the notion of ungrateful, small-minded, wankers to a new height Tottenham Hotspurs have ungraciously sacked the man who rescued them from relegation and brought Champions League football to White Hart Lane. By standing in his way last season they also denied us Harry as England manager and saddled us with Hodgson.
Daniel Levy would appear to be the biggest twat ever to run a football club. How can you betray someone who has single-handedly bailed you out of the mire of your own making (Jol, Ramos, etc) and then demand compensation from the FA for a manger you intend to sack anyway?
Thursday 14 June
Italy stumble on with a draw against Croatia while Fernando Torres found his pomp in the first four minutes to put two of Spain’s four past Ireland.
The new set-up at youth level with the first U18 league and the NextGen competition in Europe means the youth team will have their own pre-season warm-up games including a foreign tour. Just like the first-team.
The matches start at Cobham against Torquay (14 July) and Arsenal (20 July) Before flying out on a mini Asian tour with Thailand in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday 28 July and Malaysia at the start of August.
A quick fire series of games after a week of recovery against Millwall at home and then Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Aston Villa and finally Manchester United away lead up to the season’s opener on Saturday 18 August
Friday 15 June
Sweden 2:3 England
We will have to spend the next few days explaining the difference between a good result and a good performance. England did get the job done with Carroll’s peerless header, Walcott’s shank from the edge of the box and Danny Welbeck’s cute backheeled finish. We needed three because we couldn’t defend competently and had to listen to commentators wondering why-oh-why we couldn’t keep the ball against even a limited Sweden side. The answer that they had a man extra in midfield and were not lumping it into the mixer fell on deaf ears – according to everyone down the pub/on the Match of the Day sofa this victory means we are going to win the competition – easily.
France had to overcome a colossal rainstorm and the hosts Ukraine in the other match but didn’t have much trouble.
Saturday 16 June
Paul Elliott has been awarded a CBE for his work with anti-racism initiatives. It will go nicely with the MBE he got in 2003. For the benefit of George Osborne, Paul was the best defender we ever had when he signed from Celtic but his career on the pitch was ended by a Dean Saunder’s tackle in September 1992.
Euro 2012 got to the sharp end and Greece beat Russia to progress at their expense. Hosts Poland could not accomplish the accustomed miracle, Petr Cech was largely a spectator, during the Cech Republic’s 1-0 win in Wroclaw.
Andre Villas-Boas is the surprise choice for new Spurs boss – well, they are having talks but the clockwork behind the scenes at White Hart Lane has always been fairly transparent.
Sunday 17 June
The Netherlands wimped out of the tournament in Poland and Ukraine as they allowed Cristiano Ronaldo to strut his ugly stuff in a 2-1 defeat. Still, watching Ronaldo’s tears will be all the sweeter for coming at the latter stages.
Germany convincingly won the group by beating Denmark 2-1.