Thursday 26 March
The club are to open their doors to Asian teenagers in order to increase the chances of some of them making it in the game. Lots of talk of untapped potential and plenty of backing from the powers that be, FA endorsement etc. yet it appears the idea for open training sessions and further trials for the most able came from the club themselves.
If you have a son who’d like to take part, or through whom you’d like to take part, sessions are on 2,3 and 4 May at Cobham.
Friday 27 March
Michael Mancienne is making a name for himself in defensive midfield, he came on at half-time on England U21’s 5-0 humping of Norway and yes, he does look like Predator, ghosting into position from time to time.
We lost 2-4 to West Ham at Cobham as the players not away with their country and the youth and reserves patched together a team and Ray Wilkins’ bravely lead them to a bit of a disorganised defeat.
Gianfranco Zola and Steve Clarke both came home, although Franco never knew Cobham as a player and was probably expecting the medical facilities to be a bucket and sponge.
Saturday 28 March
England 4:0 Slovakia
A game for big lunks to score big lunk goals. Heskey opened before many had taken their seats, only to limp off to be replaced by Carlton Cole, only for Cole to go off injured to be replaced by Crouch who lasted into the second-half before he went off injured. None of the departed strikers were badly fouled just unlucky or poorly prepared.
Wayne Rooney scored a couple, er, Frank Lampard scored the other, Slovakia passed well but rarely threatened. David James was equal to the two saves required in the first-half and Ben Foster stood and watched from goal in the second.
Chelsea’s players rated highly, Ashley for not receiving a single boo in 90-minutes, JT for being solid, he even thought he scored but was offside turning in Crouch’s header. Frank played deeper than he is used to but scored and created Rooney’s second.
Elsewhere: Hiddink’s Russia won 2-0 against Azerbaijan. Guus announced beforehand that he’d been offered a consultative role with Chelsea next season. A Russian FA official Alexey Sorokin said: “If Chelsea say they would like to continue we are ready to discuss it … we are comfortable with the situation”. Which sound like Guus has the job full-time, with Russian duties as an afterthought.
Ballack scored the first for Germany against Liechtenstein with a cracking volley. Branislav Ivanovic scored the winner in Serbia’s 3-2 over Romania. Oddly JT and Carvalho made their 50th caps on the same day. Portugal though struggled to a 0-0 with Sweden, José Bosingwa was replaced at half-time and Deco played the last half-hour. Don’t expect Carlos Queiroz to take over at Old Trafford if and when Ferguson retires.
Cardiff City youth 2:2 Chelsea youth
Behind from the kick-off, Conor Clifford and Nikki Ahamed put us in front but a draw was a realistic result for a side on the back of four straight defeats.
Sunday 29 March
22 people died in a crush before Ivory Coast’s game with Malawi, this happens too often; when you leave home for the match you have a right to expect to come home afterwards. Yet African stadiums have been the scene of scores of death by crushing and Fifa seem to sit on their hands.
The Felix Houphouet-Boigny stadium in Abidjan had been inspected by Fifa and passed for internationals, what they don’t seem to control is the behaviour of the police. Usually few in number and too quick to overreact, it seems the police today fired tear gas into and already panicking crowd.
The match went ahead, a 5-0 home win, Didier scored twice, Kalou once but he result doesn’t matter.
Nigeria with Obi John could only draw with Mozambique and Michael Essien returned to internationals and played the whole match as Ghana beat Benin.