Tuesday 9 August
The feck wits in the FA, Met, Brent council and department of media, culture and sport, have decided to cave to recent events and cancel England’s friendly with The Netherlands.
The official line from FA chairman David Bernstein was: “We have received clear advice that, due to sporadic and the widespread nature of the unrest, there are significant concerns in relation to emergency service resources to safely police this fixture and about the protection of players from both sides.” As if a handful of stone throwing teenagers were going to attack Wembley. The decision was clearly made to spread the panic, not for the protection of players or spectators, after all the hundreds of policemen who now spend their evenings round our way sitting in riot vans, doing nothing but counting the overtime, could have parked in a Wembley side street and done the same.
Given that nobody wanted this fixture, oddly enough, the looting little feckers have achieved something positive. Chelsea’s England boys will be at Cobham tomorrow as usual.
Meanwhile Connor Clifford, after playing the first-half for the Republic’s U21 as they overcame Austria 2-1, has been called into the senior Republic of Ireland squad for their friendly with Croatia.
Milan Lalkovic played in Slovakia U21 1-1 with Portugal.
Wednesday 10 August
Fernando might be out for a while, with concussion after Spain’s 2-1 defeat in Italy. He lasted a princely 14-minutes.
Perhaps his headache will save Andre Villas-Boas one on Sunday.
Didier Drogba made and scored a penalty in Ivory Coast’s 3-4 win in Israel but will be unfortunately be remembered for a thudding tackle on Glasgow Celtic’s Beram Kayal who had to leave the field with an ankle problem. Yossi Benayoun played the first hour as captain of the hosts.
Slobodan Rajkovic played for Serbia as they lost 1-0 to Russia, Branislav Ivanovic was not available.
Petr Cech had a miserable night in Norway, losing 3-0 and being booked. Ramires and Brazil were beaten by Germany 3-2; funny we turned over after an hour of 0-0 tedium, the armchair equivalent of leaving early to beat the rush.
Connor Clifford was on the bench for the Republic but didn’t get a kick as the game against Croatia finished without score.
Thursday 11 August
The new third kit has been unveiled. Adidas have lost their way; given the class kits they produced from the Netherlands in 1974 onwards we seem to have found them in the doldrums.
Friday 12 August
Phew, another summer over, cricket and tennis and the ineffable Tour de France have kept the wolf from the door but proper sport starts tomorrow.
Andre Villas-Boas confirmed that Torres might not be able to remember much of last Wednesday but will be in the squad. More exciting is the news that Lukaku trained with the team despite a hold-up in his personal terms.
Meanwhile, the squad numbers have been announced and Josh McEachran has moved up 26 places up the hit parade to number 20, while Oriol Romeu is straight in at, the deep, number 6.
Saturday 13 August
Queens Park Rangers might want to go and hide; after beating all comers last season, they upped and lost 0-4 at home to Bolton Wanderers. Arsenal drew away at Newcastle where Joey Barton was first stamped on and then hit, one assailant sent off the other not, so a quiet day for Joey. Norwich City gained an away point and Wolverhampton Wanderers got all three at Blackburn. Fulham will be more satisfied with the home draw than Liverpool theirs against Villa and Sunderland respectively.
Sunday 14 August
Stoke City 0:0 Chelsea
So this is how it starts, with a full-blooded nil-all away. Torres started and while a few were still scratching their heads over that one the Spaniard got on with the best performance since he joined at the start of the year. Bosingwa at right-back, put in the kind of performance we haven’t seen since his injuries although better wide men will test him.
There were positives throughout the team: Ramires was lively, Obi John’s distribution was noticeably better and we defended as a unit.
Bosingwa might even have meant to shoot when he brought the first save of the day from Begovic, cross or shot it needed a sharp save. A minute later and Torres is hacked down for the first card, Stoke’s Shawcross the lucky recipient.
Then the penalty appeals started; first Kalou, as unlucky as ever, appeared to be fouled only for the home fans to get all excited when John Terry cleared at the other end. Note to Stoke City fans: for hand ball to be given the ball actually has to strike some part of the player’s arm, not his chest.
The busy Ramires then broke into the box and fizzed a ball across the six-yard box for our fox-in-the-aforementioned, only nobody was there.
The next penalty appeal come when Shawcross hauls down John Terry, and the home fans want a penalty?
Just before the break and Torres come over all magical; dancing into the box round numerous defenders, he is just robbed of the ball as he is about to shoot.
The second-half raised a few questions. We started to dominate possession and territory but just didn’t get the rub of the green. First Torres was clearly tripped with one foot in the box. Not even a free-kick. Then he was clearly held as he fought for Terry’s knockdown from a corner. Then Frank Lampard broke on to a loose ball, he appeared to be falling before contact but the trip was there to fall over. No Penalty. Obi John lashed a volley from the resulting pressure but his goal scoring record is still blank.
On the hour, with subs warming up and Stoke being so defensive that Obi John is a spare-part, the call is for Benayoun and Drogba but what we get is Nicolas Anelka.
Nic does earn his bacon with an exquisite chip that Begovic scrambles onto the bar.
Drogba finally entered the fray to belt a couple of free-kicks at the Stoke goal and then as the final whistle looms Benayoun finally arrives replacing, erm, Torres. Isn’t the wee man supposed to supply the ammunition for the Spaniard?
Inevitably, gradually time catches up with the team and we are left to debate if that is a good point won, a clean sheet and a dominant defensive display or two points thrown away for a lack of adventure.
Manchester United won the day’s final game with another far from brilliant display but as Chelsea struggled up the middle at the Britannia, United undid West Brom from the wings, with Ashley Young providing two assists. The transfer window closes in three weeks.
In the middle of the night Oriol Romeu’s Spain lost on penalties to Brazil in the U20 World Cup but Gaël Kakuta’s France advance to the semi-finals.
It emerged later that John Obi Mikel’s performance came against the background of the suspected kidnap of his father in Nigeria. Michael Obi did not return from work on Saturday but no ransom demands have been received. Worrying times.