Tuesday 11 August
Michael Mancienne started for England Under 21 in a 0-0 draw with Holland. Both Daniel Sturridge and Ryan Bertrand played in the second-half. Jeffrey Bruma came on for Holland at the break.
Carl Magnay played for Northern Ireland U21 against Portugal as they lost 2-1 away.
Finally Jack Cork played for England U20 as they thumped Montenegro 5-0.
Wednesday 12 August
The Netherlands 2:2 England
A game of tow halves is a cliché because it so perfectly summarises games like this.
The Dutch were handed everything on a plate in the first-half, from the kick-off England stumbled around with lose passing and poor direction, we managed a few forays forward but kept giving the ball away when under little pressure. Dirk Kuyt and Rafael Van der Vaart scored the goals as England defenders presented possession to the Dutch.
Second half was better with Carlton Cole playing a blinder and Jermain Defoe scoring two to level the match, toward the end we could, perhaps should, have won. Lampard played well throughout and is one of a tiny few who didn’t screw up.
Michael Ballack captained Germany to a comfortable 0-2 win in Azerbaijan. Florent and Nicolas both played for France in a titanic 0-1 away to the mighty Faroe Islands. Ivory Coast drew with Tunisia 0-0 with Salomon but not Didier. Jose Bosingwa, Deco and Carvalho all played as Portugal discovered a team they could beat, Lichtenstein 3-0. Branislav Ivanovic played for Serbia at right-back in their creditable 3-1 win over South Africa. Petr Cech played as the Czech Republic beat Belgium 3-1 and Michale Essien turned out for Ghana in their 4-1win over Zambia in Leytonstone, of all places.
Meanwhile, back at Cobham, we welcome Steve Holland who has been appointed to manage the reserves and youth team. Steve joins us from five months as assistant to Tony Pulis at Stoke City, before that he was manager of Crewe Alexandra where he had been academy director.
Holland is credited with bringing Dean Ashton, Rob Hulse, Danny Murphy and Seth Johnson through Alex’s academy. He is 39.
Thursday 13 August
Mick McCarthy has been fighting all summer to get Michael Mancienne on loan and he has his man. Michael signed a new four-year contract with us before joining training with Wolves ahead of a season long loan to gain Premiership experience and to find out if he is the real deal. He made such an impression at the West Midlands club last season that he was called into the full-England squad in November. There is an emergency clause by which we can recall him at Christmas if the treatment room is stuffed with defenders, and to keep him from being cup tied in League or FA.
Jacob Mellis has taken the well worn path to Southampton on loan until after Christmas, the Saints need a bit of help having slipped into the third division and operating with a ten-point deduction.
Michael and Jacob leaving mean that we have now shipped out eighteen players since the end of last season. Mineiro, Morten Nielsen, Fabio Ferreira, Ricardo Fernandes were all released, although Morten is now playing with AZ Alkmaar.
Ricardo Quaresma returned to Inter from his loan. Ben Sahar was sold to Espanyol for about £850,000 (promptly scoring two against Liverpool in a 3-0 friendly win), Jimmy Smith travels to Leytonstone on a free, Sergio Tejera converted a loan to a permanent deal with Real Mallorca, Frank Nouble signed for West Ham, fee will be decided by a tribunal.
Loans so far stand at nine, the best part of a full reserve side: Scott Sinclair, Michael Mancienne and Franco Di Santo in the Premiership at Wigan, Wolves and Blackburn respectively; Miroslav Stoch is in the Eredivisie with FC Twente, Ryan Bertrand rejoined Brendan Rodgers at Reading, Lee Sawyer is at Southend, Tom Taiwo at Carlisle, Patrick van Aanholt Coventry City and Jacob Mellis now at Southampton.
Friday 14 August
Chelsea reserves 0:1 Uzbekistan U20
We struggled against the Uzbek’s movement in the first-half but created chances in the second. The game was a warm-up for the U20 championship in Egypt next month, the Uzbeks will be in England’s group. Adie Viveash coached the Chelsea side for the day.
Liam Bridcutt has joined Stockport County on loan until January, he makes ten out on loan for all you loan watchers to keep an eye on.
Saturday 15 August
Chelsea 2:1 Hull City
Good enough for this afternoon but not good enough for the season. The manager may change but the struggle against teams expected to finish in the bottoms half continues. Chelsea kicked-off the football season in sloppy style missing shots and defending like amateurs. There is much work to be done.
It started brightly with Stephen Hunt lunging in high on Lampard to add a little extra rankle to the booing he received throughout. It took only a few more seconds for slick attacking play to open up the Hull defence only for Didier to flash wide with only 63 seconds on the clock.
We were struggling to get through the middle of an organised defence, the diamond offering no width making Hull’s job easier. At the same time, some of the approach play was so slick we carved them open, especially when Drogba cushioned the ball into Malouda’s path, the Frenchman’s shot on his weaker foot was well blocked.
Hull City had not come without ambition, twice Mendy had chances against a disorganised Chelsea back line before Hull scored the first Premiership goal of the season just before the half-hour. A softly awarded free-kick was floated in the ball ricocheted around after the Chelsea defence pulled itself out of shape, bounced off the inert Obi Mikel and Hunt made himself less popular by tapping home for 0-1.
Didier Drogba was having a mixed afternoon, half the balls he played wasted possession, the other half created chances. It was his free-kick ten minutes later that restored parity. From a central position he flicked the ball up and over the wall into the corner with the keeper flailing, 1-1.
At half-time Ballack replaced Obi John allowing Essien’s energy to fill the holding role and we looked bright again, Anelka this time hitting Myhill before many had finished their Bovril.
The rest of the half was frustration or disorganised panic. Anelka, Lampard and Drogba all have chances wide, blocked or saved but Hull continue to break against a Chelsea defence too easily drawn toward the ball, the marking was shocking and City, with more guile, could have had two.
Injury time brings a sublime piece of good fortune from Didier, trying to loop back a cross the Ivorian succeeds in perfectly chipping the keeper for 2-1. Even then Hull still had a chance just over the bar before the whistle saved us any more embarrassment.
Given Hull’s away form, no wins in 23 now, many were expecting this to be a walkover. Instead a poorly organised and defensively shambolic Chelsea played into the visitor’s hands. Anyone who analysed last season’s failings will have noted that Chelsea lost the title by drawing too many games at home. Lack of width was time and again cited as the problem, our the new manager by contrast seems to have invented a system to make it more difficult for us to break teams down, rather than easier. The diamond didn’t work today and it remains to be seen if it can be made to work in future.
Elsewhere, Scott Sinclair made a debut for Wigan in a 0-2 win at Aston Villa and Michael Mancienne played an hour for Wolves who lost 0-2 at home to West Ham.
Monday 17 August
Shaun Cummings joined Roberto Di Matteo again, this time at West Bromwich Albion. Roberto gave Shaun 35 games for MK Dons last season and will hope that the 20-year-old can step up a division. With Shaun out on loan that makes eleven players loaned out for more experience or to find a new place to settle down. The reserves will be mostly schoolboys this year.