Monday 7 June
England struggled to a 3-0 win of the Platinum All Stars in a local warm up every bit as bad as expected. Rooney both scored and was booked Joe Cole was the only player not subbed at half-time and he scored the second.
Tuesday 8 June
Ricky Carvalho and Deco both played as Portugal beat Mozambique 3-0 in their last warm up.
Salomon Kalou’s Côte d’Ivoire were disappointing in a 1-1 draw with Swiss league side Lausanne Sports.
Wednesday 9 June
A black day at Stamford Bridge as both Juliano Belletti Michael Ballack and Joe Cole have been released. Uefa’s strict limits on club debt mean Chelsea had to swing the axe somewhere and the German captain was an expensive luxury in a squad bristling with central midfielders but losing Joe Cole for want of a few thousand pounds is a big mistake. Injury has robbed us of the best of Joe in the recent past but there have been signs he is returning to his best and his best is better than anyone we could replace him with.
It is a curious decision that, having stuck by him and paid his wages during his rehabilitation, Chelsea don’t see the value in awarding him an improved contract. With a new three year deal the club could sell him next summer, for what – £10m, and recoup his wages that way.
It begs the question of how they expect to replace him in an inflated transfer market where any quality replacement could command the same level of wages. It doesn’t make any sense.
Belletti we spoke about some time ago when he first made the announcement on twitter. It is sad to see him leave but then age was catching up on him. It is a great excuse to find that goal against Spurs on You tube again.
Thursday 10 June
Anyone who thought we were getting rid of Cole and Ballack and Belletti to give youth a chance will be disappointed to read that Miroslav Stoch has joined Fenerbahce on a four-year contract. The young Slovakian winger made only a handful of sub appearances but was getting rave reviews in Holland as he won a championship with FC Twente.
Unless we sign someone soon Gael Kakuta is going to have a lot of responsibility next term.
One potential target who might have been put off signing on at the Bridge is Franck Ribéry. Nicolas Anelka and the cumbersomely ugly Ribéry have had a serious falling out (of the ta gueule. va te faire foutre, enculé variety, you’d imagine, nique ta mere) and peace efforts have been ongoing.
Carlo Ancelotti is 51 today. Happy birthday Carletto,
Michael Ballack made a dignified exit with an interview with The Times. He said: “Chelsea was always my first choice as I had four great years at the club and enjoyed every minute, but it was not to be. It’s still my first choice, even now, but it was not up to me. The decision was down to Roman.”
Sunday 8 August for the Community Shield against Manchester United. You get the feeling they will be trying really hard this year.
Friday 11 June
South Africa 1:1 Mexico
Not bad as an opener featuring a cracking first goal from Siphiwe Tshabalala but the Mexican leveller, from Rafael Marquez, was deserved.
Uruguay 0:0 France
Florent Malouda did not start, it seems he had to be held back from lamping Raymond Domenech la putain de merde at a team meeting, William Gallas stepping in to stop Flo pasting le petit con’s face to the wall. That Domenech deserved it was evident in the disjointed side he put out and his tactical blindness. Uruguay had a player sent off with ten-minutes to go and the French manager opted to make his side narrower, not wider. Ribéry stank. He was easily marked out of the match and gave the ball away throughout. Expect France to reach the final.
Didier Drogba seems to be challenging John Terry for the Chelsea Man of Steel title. The big Ivorian was back in training yesterday less than a week after fracturing an arm.
Saturday 12 June
England 1:1 United States of America
Oh, Robert Green, his goalkeeping howler exposed not only his goal but also this England side’s inability to respond. The Chelsea boys on show did well, Ashley Cole had a lot o defending to do so we didn’t see him forward too often, Lampard was everywhere and JT commanded from the back. Joe Cole didn’t get on because, however Italian he is, Capello is still an England manager and therefore prone to illogical decisions. Capello played James Milner from the start and replaced him before half-time with Shaun Wright-Phillips. How Shaun tried very hard while he was at the Bridge but nobody pretended he’d made the grade. Tonight he was utterly at sea, his passes went to Americans, he ran the ball into touch, he over ran or over hit everything and he failed to put a cross in. Shaun shouldn’t have been on the pitch or the plane to South Africa in the first place for that matter. Theo Walcott probably wasn’t watching.
Argentina 1:0 Nigeria
Another misfiring team but one that doesn’t have an accident prone ’keeper is Argentina. Gabriel Heinze’s first-half header eventually just enough to beat a limited Nigerian side.
South Korea 2:0 Greece
Greece were woeful, South Korea athletic and direct probably the best entertainment of the tournament so far.
Sunday 13 June
Algeria 0:1 Slovenia
England’s next two group opponents met in the other side of group C and played some pretty enough stuff, if anything Algeria played the better football but Slovenia snatched the goal after the Algerian ’keeper watched the ball across him and into the net.
Serbia 0:1 Ghana
Another misfiring match and one settled by a penalty after a Serbian hand appeared to knock away an innocuous ball in the box. Ivanovic was his usual effective self but Serbia were handicapped by the 74th minute dismissal of defender Aleksandar Lukovic.
Germany 4:0 Australia
Were Germany good or Australia appalling? The Germans played simply and directly and Australia rarely got close enough to tackle.
Monday 14 June
Reports suggest that Yossi Benayoun has agreed personal terms but the clubs are still a way apart on their valuations.
Adrian Mutu has been ordered to pay Chelsea the entire £14m fine for breach of contract. His appeal to the Swiss federal court was rejected, the tribunal statement read: “the Cas (Court of Arbitration for Sport) had sentenced the professional Romanian footballer to paying a sum of more than 17 million euros to his previous employer, Chelsea Football Club Limited”. Reporters in Romania are say that Mutu is bankrupt, but then you would be too if you’d had four years to move your money into your grandmother’s account.
Japan 1:0 Cameroon
A poor and scrappy match settled when another misdirected cross finally found a striker as Keisuke Honda finished smartly on the half hour. Cameroon put in the sweat but never looked like they could trouble the Japanese.
Netherlands 2:0 Denmark
Altitude seems to be a problem for all the sides as even the silky Dutch were reduced to winning ugly. They were helped enormously by a freak own-goal just after the break and a poacher’s tap in from Kuyt after substitute Eljero Elia’s shot was well saved by Sorensen.
Italy 1:1 Paraguay
Fabio Capello is not the only aging Italian manager whose side do not have a clue – Marcello Lippi’s Italy stuttered to a draw that only came after a goalkeeper let a corner across the box for an unmarked tap in.
Tuesday 15 June
New Zealand 1:1 Slovakia
Chelsea interest in this one had dwindled with Stoch’s sale to Fenerbahçe and the lad didn’t get on until late in any case. In fact he was just in time to witness the late New Zealand equaliser. After Slovenia dominated possession and chances the All Whites stole a header from a corner at the death to bring their first World Cup point.
Côte d’Ivoire 0:0 Portugal
Didier Drogba’s presence is such that he drew more attention that Ronaldo did lying on the pitch. This was though a poor match. Ronaldo’s only contribution was to hit a post and then sulk. Didier appeared a few minutes from the end but didn’t get a clear chance.
Brazil 2:1 North Korea
Brazil stumbled into the tournament as North Korea held them comfortably at bay until and outrageous fluke gave the five-times winners the lead. Many commentators are describing Maicon’s cross which rocketed in at the near post as pure Brazilian magic. By which they mean utter fluke as he looked up to gauge a cross and then fluffed it in the net.
North Korea’s goal at the end was no more than they deserved.
Wednesday 16 June
Reserve ’keeper Rhys Taylor will start his pre-season with Crewe Alexandra with a view to a season long loan. The 20-year-old keeper had a brief loan at QPR last season as cover so this time he’ll be hoping for plenty of starts. Chelsea’s reserve coach Steve Holland is a former first-team coach at Gresty Road.
Honduras 0:1 Chile
Fine attacking display from Chile and for once an entertaining game of football.
Spain 0:1 Switzerland
However much the commentators drool over the Spaniards’ ability to pass the ball to each other Switzerland do a Stoke; defend well, nick one on the break.
South Africa 0:3 Uruguay
Alex Ferguson will be delighted he sold on Diego Forlan so cheaply as the Old Trafford reject scored two to spoil the hosts evening.
Thursday 17 June
The fixture computer spits out the Baggies at home as our first match in the defence of our title. West Brom manager and ex-Blue, Roberto Di Matteo, will get a warm reception from the home fans.
The first half of the season is relatively quiet but Christmas is where we really start with December games against Everton (h), Spurs (a), Manchester United (h) and Arsenal (a) back-to-back with Champions’ League games squeezed in between. Holidaymakers will be heading to Blackpool in March.
‘In defence of our title’ has a satisfying ring to it.
Greece 2-1 Nigeria
Nah, missed this one.
Argentina 4:1 South Korea
Perhaps the most miraculous aspect of the World Cup is that Argentina are playing coherent football while Maradona is still in charge. Gonzalo Higuain scored a hat-trick against plucky South Korea.
France 0-2 Mexico
France again played like a strangers. Both Anelka and Malouda were careless. Ribéry was again easily marked out of the match a poor display all round. Mexico will not mind that Europe’s media will focus solely on how poor France were they scored two cracking goals and deserved their victory.
Friday 18 June
Germany 0:1 Serbia
So Germany are not going to be world champions after all. Miroslav Klose was sent off for a couple of nothing challenges and Serbia scored through Milan Jovanovic a few minutes later. His celebration is likely to be remembered longer than the match; eager to celebrate with the fans he leapt the advertising hoarding only to disappear into the pitch side moat.
Germany missed a penalty given after Nemanja Vidic flung himself across the penalty area to palm the ball away under no pressure. Now, why doesn’t he do that when playing for Manchester United?
England 0:0 Algeria
The worst performance of an England team at a tournament is down to one man – Fabio Capello. You can understand why Real Madrid sacked him so quickly. This is the man that cannot see that Emile Heskey cannot, any longer, actually play the game. He is in the team because long balls to the big lunk are supposed to create chances for Rooney but it is a failed experiment, Heskey simply cannot do anything and yet Capello persists. This is the man that started Aaron Lennon against the United States and watched a performance so poor he substituted him for Shaun Wright-Phillips, who was worse. The idiot did exactly the same thing tonight. His impact substitute won a free-kick and spent the rest of the game falling over or shinning the ball into touch. Gareth Barry returned and looked tidy but a holding midfielder in a four-man midfield is a bit of a millstone. Gerrard deployed supposedly on the left had no discipline and cut inside all night, which further unbalanced the side and exposed Ashley Cole to two attackers. While Ash dealt with the defensive problem it meant he could not get forward.
Everyone looked out of sorts as simple passes went astray, crossing was absurd – Gerrard popped up, on the right naturally, and instead of crossing to expectant strikers he bobbled the ball four yards to the nearest defender.
Joe Cole watched from the bench.
Saturday 19 June
Zut, Nicolas Anelka, j’en ai rien foutre, has been sent home after another fight with Domenech, this time during the Mexico game. Patrice Evra is looking for blood, not Anelka’s but the ‘traitor’ who leaked the story to the press: “The problem of France is not Anelka, but the traitor among us. We must eliminate the traitor from the group because he wants to hurt the team.” No problems there then.
The French Minister of Sport, Roselyne Salope-Bachelot, urged the French squad to show greater dignity for the remainder of the tournament. She got the biggest laugh when she said: “The players must keep in mind that they’re wearing France’s colours and are considered as role models by many youngsters.”
Netherlands 1:0 Japan
Another thoroughly entertaining match settled by a rocket shot, and poor goalkeeping. Both sides where positive and both created chances.
Ghana 1:1 Australia
Missed this match but highlights reveal that Harry Kewell was sent off but that a poor Ghana side couldn’t capitalise. Australia had the lead through Brett Holman before Kewell popped up on the goal line to palm the ball away. The penalty was slotted by Asamoah Gyan.
Denmark 2:1 Cameroon
Both sides needed to win and Cameroon were all industry and chances but, aside from Eto’o’s opener from a defensive slip, Denmark had the better chances and more threatening play. Bendtner equalised and Dennis Rommedahl skipped round a defender to fire the winner.
Sunday 20 June
John Terry had a stab at leading the England team tonight. In a press conference he outlined the plans for a clear-the-air meeting with Fabio Capello: “The players can say how they feel and, if it upsets him [Capello], then I’m on the verge of just saying: ‘You know what? So what?’ If we can’t be honest with each other, then there’s no point us being here.”
It appeared later that the clear-the-air talks did no such thing. Capello is reported to have reasserted his authority as Gerrard, Rooney and other senior players bottled any confrontation. So, Heskey will start on Wednesday in the must win game and Shaun Wright-Phillips will come on at half-time. Not sure we can be bothered to watch. At least the Italian stronzo said he would resign when we fail to get out of the group.
Slovakia 0:2 Paraguay
Busy cooking lunch as this one went on in the background. Stoch not on again until late but the goals were well taken.
New Zealand 1:1 Italy
Surely they couldn’t. New Zealand scored a goal from a clearly offside position inside seven minutes and while Italy managed an equaliser from the penalty spot the rest of the match was spent waiting for Italy to score a winner that never came.
Brazil 3:1 Côte d’Ivoire
This Brazil side are really annoying. Ahead through their only first-half chance, they were allowed to double their lead when their striker handled twice before scoring. Referees treat them with exaggerated respect and any challenge on them is deemed a foul. The self-regarding country that have had their last two world cups handed to them because it is good for the Fifa brand don’t deserve merda.
Didier was isolated for much of the game but still popped up with the consolation. Côte d’Ivoire will now have to beat North Korea and hope Brazil don’t lie down against Portugal.
Meanwhile, in the French camp [ƒ≥@§!&$Ωß€] the players refused to train in protest at Anelka’s expulsion from the squad. Patrice Evra had an explosive row with the fitness coach. The managing director quit immediately afterwards, “They don’t want to train. It’s unacceptable … As for me, it’s over. I’m leaving the federation. I’m sickened and disgusted.”