Monday 28 September
Chris Sutton has stunned the football world by being appointed as the new Lincoln City manager, Sutton will take charge at Sincil Bank on Wednesday, wisely missing the league two pasting from Notts County on Tuesday night.
Tuesday 29 September
Wolverhampton Wanderers reserves 0:1 Chelsea reserves
Paulo Ferreira captained the reserves continuing his comeback from last season’s knee injury. Connor Clifford did the honours with a spanking 25-yard shot with two minutes left on the clock; gutting for Wolves. Danny Mills made his debut and found himself up against the Scotland international Chris Iwelumo, also making reserve bows were Josh McEachran, Aliu ‘Kaby’ Djalo and Billy Clifford.
“We will be disciplined, energetic, compact and will stick to the system that has got us here,” according to one of the Apoel players today. Chelsea trained with Ashley and Joe Cole taking part, Deco also went through the warm-ups. Little actual news about the team but Zhirkov could start in place of Ash, Deco and Joe will probably be on the bench. Obi John and Ballack didn’t travel with ankle and calf problems respectively.
Wednesday 30 September
Apoel 0:1 Chelsea
A scrappy win in which a solid, controlled first-half containing Nicolas Anelka’s blistering goal was almost completely forgotten after the ingestion of a few pints and a shockingly poor second period defined for Chelsea by Michael Essien giving away possession with almost every single touch. We were that poor that many drifted off to watch Manchester United struggle with Wolfsberg leaving only three Chelsea boys in the Saloon biting a fingernail for every misplaced pass. Thankfully Chelsea started brightly – or we’d have been down to our elbows by the end – for the second match running we had the better of the opening Essien and Kalou both had shots before Belletti slalomed down the right and pulled back for Anelka to shoot across the ’keeper from the edge of the box. 0-1.
Chelsea controlled the game to the extent that Apoel didn’t register a chance before half-time.
The story after that was appalling, Apoel were faster to the breakdown, quicker in thought and deed. Our defence is strong enough to keep them at arm’s length leaving Cech only a late save with his feet and to watch a later header fly over.
Apoel might not have threatened but Carlo was not a happy man, aware that Liverpool might play better than the Cypriots, he laid into the team at half-time and again after the whistle: “The players did strong work, for sure, and ran a lot on the pitch, but we have to play better. It was a good result but not a good performance, particularly in the second half. We tried to control the game with possession, but we made a lot of mistakes.”
Good result indeed, this was our first away win in Europe since Rosenberg two years and four managers ago. Perhaps this team is weighed down by the pressure of expectation, that when we are facing a big club we can play with a little more freedom but when expected to dominate we stutter. We will see what kind of performance we manage on Sunday.
Oh dear, Ken Bates has been caught lying, again. So, the riddle within an enigma that is Leeds United’s ownership (as Chelsea’s before it) is heading toward a riddle within a newspaper served up with vinegar and chips. Prima facie, Bates has been caught in perjury this time, rather than his usual flimflam.
Perjury is, of course, deliberately lying to the court. Ken might just be being forgetful. In January he told the Royal Court of Jersey that both he and Patrick Murrin owned Leeds United, through management shares in Forward Sports Fund. It now emerges that there are 10,000 shares in the, Cayman Island based, Forward and that Bates and Murrin do not own any of them. Bates describes this discrepancy as “an error” on his part. An error? An error on a par with signing an affidavit to being a stick of calcium sulphate dihydrate when, in reality, you are a wheel of Gouda.
The most satisfying aspect of the current revelations is that Bates brought it on himself; he is suing a company called Admatch who are counter-suing and thus gradually revealing Ken’s dirty little secrets.
Murrin you’ll remember used to conceal the true identity of who was behind Swann Management all those moons ago when Chelsea fans asked “who owns our club”, Bates, with Murrin’s help said they didn’t know. They have moved on from that position to being unable to reveal the identity of the owners, if indeed they are the same folks.
The trustees of Forward are based in Geneva and refuse to reveal the identity of the owner or owners of the 10,000 shares. The Swiss admin men smugly announced that they will only reveal the information if ordered to do so by a Swiss court.
All the obfuscation means that the Football League under its fit and proper person’s test cannot have ratified Leeds United’s ownership. Ken and Leeds are in the middle of a web of offshore companies the ultimate beneficial ownership of which may never be established, one of which, Astor Investment Holdings, was prepared to lose £18m it was owed rather than see anyone other than Ken and Forward take Leeds out of administration. The administrators announced themselves happy that there was no link between Astor and Ken or Forward. Bates’ lawyers confirmed that there had been a link but that it had been broken “when Astor sold Forward to Bates and Murrin”, except now it turns out that Forward is not owned by Ken, or Patrick, after all.
So Leeds, as Chelsea before them, could be owned by Mohammed Ali, Al Jazeera, Teresa and Dave Gorman, Groucho Marx or Ken himself, until the ownership is established we will never know and Ken can’t sue us for saying so.
We are indebted to David Conn and the Guardian for the information we have reproduced here.
Saturday 3 October
Chelsea youth 4:3 Fulham youth
The youth team clinched a seven-goal thriller when Billy Clifford tapped home a rebound and the youth team sealed the points. Billy Knott and Milan Lalkovic and a Fulham defender scored the others as we twice came from behind to lead at the break. Clifford’s goal came on the hour and was the last significant act of a chaotic game.
Sunday 4 October
Chelsea 2:0 Liverpool
Anyone watching Arsenal put six past Blackburn Rovers earlier in the afternoon would not have recognised this as the same game. If Arsenal against Rovers was light chamber music, this was a death metal slam, with Didier Drogba on lead guitar and Hilario on drums. Torres played air-guitar.
Before kick-off the consensus was too close to call, most thought a draw or a one nil. With Liverpool shorn of Xabi Alonso in the summer and Yossi Benayoun only on the bench it seemed, from the off, that Benitez was more scared of losing than confident of forcing a win. Any manager who finds space for Lucas in midfield but none for Benayoun has little appreciation of the game as an art.
Chelsea had Cech suspended so Hilario deputised and, with Bosingwa injured in training, Ivanovic retained the right-back role. Malouda was left on the bench in favour of Michael Ballack and Drogba came back from European suspension. The surprise was Deco’s start at the tip of the diamond.
Liverpool started brightly maintaining possession but creating few scares as Carvalho kept Torres at arms length. In fact, the only time Ricky lost the Spaniard the resulting header was tame and straight at Hilario.
As the half wore on Ballack and Drogba tangled going for the same header before the German headed over from a corner. Chelsea’s best chance of the first period fell to Anelka, whose header was straight and Reina.
Essien filled up the rest of the half, shooting low across Reina in the box before being booked for a tackle on Lucas in which there appeared to be no contact. The resulting free-kick almost crept in as Hilario watched it toward goal as if expecting a stray boot to deflect it, eventually he reacted to tip the ball round the post.
The magic came in the second-half, Lampard tackled Mascherano inside our half, Essien fed Deco, Deco wide to Drogba, perfect cross and Anelka met the ball with an awkward volley that he did well to convert. 1-0.
The move summed up what Chelsea can do when at their best; strong defence throughout the team, one-touch moves, perfect crossing unerring finishing. It is just a shame that it doesn’t hook up perfectly every time.
Chelsea sat back somewhat after the goal and Benayoun came on gifting possession and impetus to Liverpool. Ashley Cole had to be adroit to head the ball clear of Gerrard in the box, as we struggled to clear danger or retain possession.
Gerrard, for his part, decided scythe down Lampard to earn a yellow, Drogba lamped the free-kick from 30-yards but just wide.
Next up was a determined block from John Terry as Gerrard again shaped, only for Torres to scuff wide.
With time up and three minutes of injury time on the board Drogba decided to settle everyone’s nerves by powering to the bye line, refusing to be tugged down, and cross for Malouda to bundle home, coup de grâce, 2-0. The resulting pandemonium in the stands was born of relief at bouncing back from Wigan as well as performing against another of the top four, something that we singularly failed to do last term. Didier Drogba’s near flawless afternoon deserved a goal but there was only time for Liverpool to poke one wide (Benayoun) or draw a first meaningful save from Hilario (Gerrard).
This was a superb performance right throughout the team: Hilario was nerveless (so it seemed, his shorts may tell a different story); Cole and Ivanovic were defensive but excelled, especially the latter who has looked unconvincing in the role; Terry and Carvalho worked in tandem to snuff any threat; Essien, nominally the defensive shield, was all power and industry; Lampard and Ballack both attacked and defended well; Deco was hugely hardworking; Anelka scored and linked play beautifully and Didier we’ve already spoken about.
The script is a familiar one and many will say this Chelsea team, however much Roman wants it to develop a personality, has not changed since Mourinho built it five years ago. When we do what we do best we are too strong for any other club in England. Hiddink realised that, Ancelotti has clearly grasped the fact and as a result we are two points clear at the top going into the International fortnight.
Henrique Hilario, surprisingly, won the man-of-the-match champagne. ’Keepers do sometimes star but Hilario had little to do but turn one ball round the post and deflect another for a corner late on, while Didier terrorised Liverpool and set up both goals. Go figure, as our colonial cousins would say.