Monday 30 August
Didier Drogba misses Ivory Coast’s opener against Rwanda in qualifying for the seemingly endless African Cup of Nations. No reason has officially been given although he sat out a friendly earlier in the month to rest from a ‘strain’. It seems Chelsea are starting to out canny United in injuries just before international weeks.
Bottle of bubbly at the Wilkins family tonight as Ray and Graham’s brother Dean Wilkins has been appointed as caretaker at Southampton after Alan Pardew was surprisingly sacked.
Tuesday 31 August
A quiet end to the transfer window at Chelsea only one departure as Wigan Athletic snap up Franco Di Santo for a rumoured £2m. Fees are officially, as always, undisclosed.
Avram Grant and Henk ten Cate thought Franco was the next big thing when he joined in early 2008 but apart from a few goals for the reserves Franco has struggled, making 16 substitute appearances in all competitions without finding the net. We wish him well and suspect he’ll get more playing time at Wigan. Along with Mikael Forssell, Scott Sinclair and Ben Sahar he joins a lengthening list of very promising youth and reserves who could not cut it. There is a question as to whether they ever could or the club is failing to nurture their talent and challenge them with first-team games at an early enough stage. Gaël Kakuta could be the next to fail to make it. He apparently has not reacted well to moving back to the reserves and finding Yossi Benayoun ahead of him for the first team.
Paulo Ferreira has retired from international football. The 31-year-old, who took his decision for personal reasons, played 62 internationals over eight years.
Matej Delac has signed professional terms for the club and, as announced last week, joined Vitesse Arnhem on loan.
With all the whirl of transfer deadline day we remember Francisco Varallo a former Argentine international who died aged 100 yesterday. Mr Varallo was nicknamed the little canon for his shooting and held the record goals scored for Boca Juniors until last year but he is most remarkable for being the last living participant in the first World Cup final between Uruguay and Argentina in 1930. For all of you hoping one day to grow sanguine about the ghost goal or the semi with Barcelona would do well to heed Mr Varallo’s take on a match Argentina lost 4-2 some 80 years ago: “With all due respect for my team mates, we weren’t gutsy enough … Even now when I look back it still makes me angry.”
Wednesday 1 September
The squad list has been announced and Chelsea will have the smallest squad in the Premiership this season with only 19 players. The new rules allow for 25 players of whom eight must be home-grown – we have only four. Squad numbers have also been given to six players under 21: Daniel Sturridge, Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Bruma, Gael Kakuta, Fabio Borini and Josh McEachran. Let us hope that they can gain experience this season as cover and in the Carling Cup and press on from there.
Jeffrey Bruma has signed a new 4-year deal with the club. The 18-year-old made his international debut earlier this summer but is recovering from a hernia operation. Given the thin squad he will get games this year.
Thursday 2 September
Classic headlines from the official site number 23: “Benayoun blows Malta”, which is perfectly feasible if you start early in the morning. It’s a small place.
Our new Israeli scored a hat-trick against the hapless islanders.
Josh McEachran and Aziz Deen-Conteh both played for England U19 tonight as they make their way up from U17. They were playing Milan Lalkovic’s Slovakia at Gresty Road.
Patrick Van Aanholt played for the Dutch U21 as the lost away to Spain.
Friday 3 September
England 4:0 Bulgaria
Well, Jermain Defoe will feel better but the scoreline hides a frustrating performance. Bulgaria were, too often, too good for a poor England and should have equalised before Defoe scored the second of his three. The fact that Joe Hart was England’s best player for the first hour speaks volumes.
Ashley Cole can hold his head up for another marauding performance. The big lunk Rooney actually put in a good shift too.
Spare a thought for Spurs and Michael Dawson, no really, the defender was carried off with a serious knee problem on his debut. Harry will be chuffed he spent so much money on defenders this summer, oh, hang on, perhaps Rafael van der Vaart can double as a centre-back.
France suffered slightly more than England as Belarus beat them 0-1 in Paris in Florent Malouda’s first game as captain.
The Under 21s were more productive Michael Mancienne captained the side that won 0-1 in Portugal. Daniel Sturridge scored, Ryan Bertrand played the whole game and Jack Cork made a short substitute appearance.
Saturday 4 September
Coventry City youth 1:1 Chelsea youth
A big crowd and a sunny afternoon makes you wonder why so many Chelsea games are behind closed doors. Phillip Prosenik gave us the lead after the Coventry midfield appealed for a free-kick but Chelsea played to the whistle. Their second-half equaliser from Jonson Harris was deserved and, while Chelsea had the better of the second-half scrap, we couldn’t find a winner.
Salomon Kalou scored one in the Ivory Coast’s 3-0 home win against Rwanda.
Sunday 5 September
Obi John and Nigeria are off the mark in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying, beating Madagascar 2-0.