Monday 9 August
Wonder kid Scott Sinclair has joined former reserve boss Brendan Rodgers at Swansea City. Scott scored some wonderful goals for the reserves and on loan but a fallow year on the bench at Wigan last season seems to have persuaded the club that they should cut their losses and concentrate on the new boys, Kakuta, McEachran, Borini, et al.
Scott will bring as much as a million with half up-front.
Martin O’Neill has resigned from the Villa job with less than a week before the start of the campaign. Randy Lerner had insisted on a sell-to-buy policy and apparently then announced that O’Neill would not be able to reinvest the cash from James Milner’s sale to Man City.
Deco officially signed for Fluminense on Saturday. Sorry for the delay but this diary was very busy over the weekend. Deco never really lit up the Bridge but, when fit, showed what a quality player he was. Jose Mourinho wanted to bring him in that first summer and if he had we would have had Deco’s best years.
Tuesday 10 August
Ricardo Carvalho has signed for Real Madrid, well, we’ve accepted the bid (about £6.7m), he has to settle personal terms and he can be sure to increase his pension pot. Carvalho has been consistently the class act from the group first bought by Mourinho in 2004. His cracking length-of-the-field run for the third goal against Manchester United to seal the 05/06 title will long be one of the classics of Chelsea’s history. Ricardo has been part of the meanest defence in our history and his all round blocking, tackling and anticipation marks him as one of Chelsea’s best ever defenders. We wish him a heartfelt farewell for all the times he got his foot in to clear off a striker’s toe.
Over at Upton Park, Italy met the Ivory Coast with the Ivorians getting the better of new coach Cesare Prandelli’s re-modelled Italy by the only goal. Salomon Kalou came off five minutes before the end and Drogba was excused duty as he furthers his recovery from groin surgery.
Michael Mancienne and Daniel Sturridge both started for England U21 against Uzbekistan at Ashton Gate. Jack Cork also got a run in the 2-0 win.
Wednesday 11 August
England 2:1 Hungary
Well, Capello, the sly old bugger, played a 4-3-3 of sorts after spending the week telling everyone who would listen that 4-4-2 was the only style in town. There were a few pantomime boos for the lads in the warm-up but a media campaign suggesting the squad expected and deserved a pasting effectively neutered much of the criticism.
The Chelsea trio played the first-half Frank had some good touches from a deeper role than usual. Ashley Cole looked full of running but was turned a few times by his winger so we’ll say he is 70%. John Terry’s form is more of a worry, he appeared off the pace and played strikers onside once or twice. Thankfully for him, the second-half replacements in central defence, Dawson and Jagielka contrived to score an own-goal between them.
Fabio Capello announced afterwards that David Beckham’s England career was over. Only for the audience behind him to shout in unison: “Oh, no it’s not”. Pantomime season has come early.
Thursday 12 August
Ramires has been granted a work-permit on appeal and will be in London over the next few days to tie up the paperwork. The £18m deal takes summer business to about £23m, some £80m shy of Manchester City’s spending. Which squad will gel quickest? We’ll know the answer to that in 48 hours.
Friday 13 August
Jack Cork has rejoined Burnley on loan for the year. They offered him plenty of game-time last season in the Premiership and he might be a little disappointed not to get a top-flight deal this season.
After Santos accused us of harassment in our pursuit of Neymar and threatened us with a talking-to from Fifa, Carlo Ancelotti confirmed our interest but refused to be drawn by details of any deal. Rumours suggest we have had a £17m bid rejected as the Brazilian giants hold out for a Man City sized £29m deal.
Cech and Alex are both available for tomorrow but we’ll have to wait on Lampard who has an ankle knock from Wednesday.
Mario Balotelli has completed his move to Eastlands. It seems Ancelotti knows exactly what he is missing: “With him Manchester City will challenge for the title, not just fourth.” We have been warned.
Ah, tomorrow, the eve of the football season brings a tingle even after a summer full of World Cup misery and boring tiki-taka (no, that was Tripitaka) football. Sky’s current jumpers-for-goalposts ad and even the ad for the Sun capture some of the excitement. You can tell the true obsessive through an elementary test – hands up if you paused the Sky jumpers ad to check the scores, come on admit it you all have. The real test of insanity is if you smiled, a quiet contented smile, on noticing that the Blues had beaten the Reds 7-9.
Being champions we can look forward to a special place at the end of the MOTD title sequence as well.
Saturday 14 August
Chelsea 6:0 West Bromwich Albion
It seems churlish to suggest that this was an under-powered performance from a side only 70/80% fit but we clearly have gears to shift through in the next few weeks. Charming weather for it.
Roberto Di Matteo and Eddy Newton turned up all smiles, waves and handshakes and left looking a little bemused. Chelsea might have been off the pace but were still easily too good for the Baggies.
West Brom didn’t help themselves by giving away free-kicks and failing to defend them. After five minutes Ibanez blocked Malouda and Didier’s shot was fumbled by Scott Carson, Obi John controlled into Malouda’s path for 1-0.
The second was remarkably similar, we had been fairly insipid between as the Baggies pushed but didn’t create, Chelsea’s passing was slow and obvious. Until another couple of free-kicks, first Frank Lampard and Carson parried only for Malouda to head over and then Drogba stepped up and hammered one straight through the wall and in, 2-0. The wall jumped out of the way.
Between the goals West Brom controlled plenty of the play with Jerome Thomas breaking down the left wing, as if Paulo Ferreira wasn’t there but disappointing with his delivery every time.
The second-half began with West Brom still competing and winning free-kicks but the game was over in the 53rd minute after Terry’s strong header was beaten off the line Drogba slammed in the loose ball. 3-0.
The best move of the game gave us four as Ashley Cole linked into the box and fed Lampard. 4-0.
Five came, again, from Drogba whose powerful shot deflected in for a hat-trick and consecutive hat-tricks for the Ivorian. 5-0. Ask Statman when that last happened. It also takes him ahead of Jimmy Greaves in the all time goal scorers list and, on 134, he needs a mere 16 to overtake Peter Osgood.
The substitutions of Lampard and Drogba left us a little unbalanced for a time but Anelka’s jinked pass found Malouda’s run and he scored off the inside of the near post. 6-0.
Drogba said at the end that he feels fit for the first time in six years after the surgery to cure his hernia problem. God help the rest of the Premiership.
Blackpool deserve a mention as they introduced themselves to the Premiership by thrashing Wigan 0-4. Some lucky so-and-so won a packet at 50-1 that the Tangerines would top the league.
Oh, and we do have a little spot at the end of the Match of the Day titles just as Lampard and Terry lift the cup. Ah.
Carlo played down the significance of the result: “We did our job, nothing special,” he said “This team can show this kind of play, can score a lot of goals and this is our job”. Not a bad job to have.
Chelsea youth 2:3 Wolves youth
A good start from the youth team but goals from Philipp Prosenik and George Saville couldn’t secure a much-needed win. Prosenik was clear twice in the first-half, one-on-one with their ’keeper but couldn’t score. Manchester United are down next weekend and the academy will be hoping for better things from the new crop of schoolboys.
Rhys Taylor continues to make friends and admirers at Crewe. He couldn’t do much about the three goals they shipped to Cheltenham though.
Meanwhile, Ben Gordon got a baptism of fire against Rangers but his valiant Kilmarnock side only lost 2-1.
Sunday 15 August
Joe Cole, remember him, was sent off in the first-half for Liverpool but an improved Reds performance under affable old Roy Hodgson should have won the game against Arsenal but for one of the best goalkeeping blunders of the last few years.
Ryan Bertrand played at left-back in a storming game for Forest against Leeds. The match finished 1-1 with a bit of bad blood and our youngster picked up a booking.