Monday 5 July
It is coming and going day at the Bridge.
Youngsters getting their first contracts are Aziz Deen-Conteh, Billy Clifford, Rohan Ince, George Saville, James Ashton, Milan Lalkovic, Philipp Prosenik and Josh McEachran.
Those looking for new clubs will be the ’keepers Niclas Heimann and Aldi Haxhia and outfielders Nana Ofori-Twumasi, Nikki Ahamed, Liam Bridcutt and Kenny Strickland.
Nana already has a contract with Peterborough United and Heimann joins Red Bull Salzburg but the others will spend a lot of time on their mobiles.
Joining the academy squad are a host of new youngsters: Swedish midfielder Amin Affane; the goalkeeper Jamal Blackman who has been around for a while already; Todd Kane the right-back already has a youth team appearance; Reece Loudon has a reserve team cap; defender Archange Nkumu has been with us since the age of 10; Danny Mills-Pappoe needs no further introduction here; Danny Stenning is a midfielder and finally new boy Tomas Kalas a very promising young defender with Czech side Sigma Olomouc where he will stay on a season long loan.
The first-team squad are back for training and Obi John, Michael Essien and Jose Bosingwa were all in and apparently over their injury problems. Although Bosingwa for one will train on his lonesome until he is completely better.
Deco’s move to Fluminense is all but done and dusted. The Brazilian club announced that the personal terms have been agreed and they are just waiting on the paperwork.
Spare a though for Kenny Strickland, Manchester United let him go last summer and now Chelsea have turned him down. We hope he finds a club where he can prosper and possibly prove the top two sides in the country make mistakes.
Tuesday 6 July
Uruguay 2:3 Netherlands
The Dutch haven’t even caught fire yet and they are in the final. A poorly refereed game took off with two thunderbolts in the first-half for 1-1. The second period was orange with goals from Sneijder and Robben before Uruguay gave themselves a glimmer with a goal back in time added on. Of which there were two more minutes than had been put up on the board, even though this was Green Point not Old Trafford.
The television companies have wrestled the fixture list to their liking, and the upshot is our first two games are on the box or the flat screen, four-colour, HD, 3D surround sound beast in the corner of the public bar. We suppose box is no longer the right term.
West Bromwich Albion’s visit on opening day will be the tea-time kick-off on ESPN and the next week we are at Wigan on Sky. As usual you have to keep on your toes but at least we should be able to plan up to the end of November.
Wednesday 7 July
Germany 0:1 Spain
Oh dear, a good game of football is out of the question then. Spain bored their way to the final in finest Arsenal style. Tippy-tapped-to-death Germany will regret not running more with the ball or committing more to breaks. Spain scored from a corner after all their dull sideways approach play was snuffed out on the edge of the box. If you want the World Cup final experience all you’ll need is a ticket to Stoke City against Arsenal and you’ll get the same thing without the plastic horns.
Thursday 8 July
Howard Webb, this country’s leading plastic horn, will referee the final, we had all been expecting as much. English whistlers have not been held in high regard of late but papers trumping our ‘success’ should get some perspective. Howard himself merely needs to decide which is the home team and favour them throughout.
Friday 9 July
Ticket for the charity shield will be on sale next week we have been allocated 26,145 as once again the FA is content with rows of empty seats. One year they should run an experiment and divvy up the tickets half each and sell them all of a fiver, first-come, first-served and see what the atmosphere is like. Who knows, this supporting a football club thing, it might just catch on.
Saturday 10 July
Uruguay 2:3 Germany
The Germans have been value for money in this world cup and a late header from Sami Khedira swung the bronze medal match.
Sunday 11 July
Netherlands 0:1 Spain
Bugger. The Dutch were magnificent in the face of Spain who were reduced to pumping desperate long balls in the second-half but it was the Spanish who got the lucky break in extra-time when the Dutch should have been awarded a corner but instead scored from the next move when Andres Iniesta hit a half volley that sealed things. Howard Webb was hysterical with his cards booking 13 players. As with the last World Cup final Webb was clearly hooked up to a fourth official who was watching on television. Last time round Zidane’s headbutt was missed by match officials but quickly picked up by the video referee and a card ordered, in this game a couple of challenges went unseen by Webb and his assistants but the video ref ordered Webb back to issue cards.
Arjen Robben will be hoping he could go back and do it again. He was twice through with the Spanish goal at his mercy and somehow he fluffed his lines. The second time Carlos Puyol pulled him back outside the area but there was no free-kick and importantly no second card for Puyol. Webb had clearly decided that Spain were the home team.
So the most boring and Arsenal-ish side are now world champions and, once again, the better side came second.
No football for a whole month, unless you count pre-season friendlies. Yeah, thought not. There is a beach soccer tournament on Eurosport; pickings are that thin.
See you all at Selhurst Park next Saturday.