THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Tuesday 1 Steve McClaren begins his first day as England manager by saying: “It will be totally different from Sven and the past five years. I’m going to do it my way.” Liverpool’s Champions League opponents Maccabi Haifa are contesting UEFA’s plan to switch the Israel leg of their tie to a neutral venue. That man Ken Bates is to report Chelsea to the Premier League, the FA, FIFA and the World Council of Churches after claiming they recruited two Leeds youth-team players through an illegal approach. José Antonio Reyes is hoping to tie up a move to Madrid: “Real are like a candy that is difficult to turn down.” Ghana full-back John Pantsil joins West Ham.

Wednesday 2 AC Milan are admitted to this year Champions League but only because UEFA say they “lack the legal grounds” to block them. “For me George Burley is the perfect gaffer,” says Czech midfielder Rudi Skacel on leaving Hearts for Southampton.

Friday 4
Martin O’Neill is the new Villa manager and says: “I know it’s nearly a quarter of a century since they won the European Cup but that’s the dream.” Celtic goalkeeper Artur Boruc may be taken to court over complaints that he crossed himself in front of Rangers fans during an Old Firm match in February. Wayne Rooney is sent off again, along with Paul Scholes, in Man Utd’s tour match against Porto. Wrexham come out of administration after being bought by a group of local businessmen.

Saturday 5 The Football League season starts with a 2‑0 victory for Luton against Leicester. Sir Bobby Robson is taken to hospital during Ipswich’s opener, won 2‑1 by Palace. A Hull fan tries to attack the referee for not giving them a penalty just before John Hartson’s second goal in West Brom’s 2‑0 win. Cameron Jerome is sent off three minutes after his debut as a sub in Birmingham’s 2-1 victory over Colchester. Swindon’s debutant Slovak goalkeeper Peter Brezovan saves two penalties in his side’s 1-0 win at Hartlepool. Dennis Wise is grateful: “Our coach driver speaks a little Polish so he passed on some information for us.” Darlington’s 4‑0 defeat of Macclesfield is the biggest win of the day, with Barry Conlon scoring a hat-trick. Bury apologise for racial chants by a section of their fans during the match at MK Dons. Gretna’s first game in Scottish Division One is a 6-0 thrashing of Hamilton. East Stirlingshire win an opening match for the first time since 1993, 2-1 against Elgin.

Sunday 6
Hearts lead the SPL after beating Celtic 2-1. Niall Quinn’s management debut ends in a 2-1 defeat at Coventry, while Derby draw a see-saw match with Southampton 2-2 thanks to supersub Paul Peschisolido’s 90th-minute goal. Michael Carrick and Joe Cole will miss the start of the season through injury. Ashley Cole is left out of Arsenal’s Champions League squad – he’s got another lunch date with Chelsea. X

Tuesday 8 Arsenal win 3‑0 at Dinamo Zagreb in the first leg of their Champions League qualifier. Crystal Palace lead the Championship after coming from behind to beat Southend 3‑1. Port Vale head five other clubs on maximum points in League One after a 1‑0 win over Oldham; Rotherham are 11 points adrift following a 3‑0 defeat at Huddersfield. Accrington’s first home League game in 44 years ends in 2‑0 defeat to League Two leaders Darlington. Sol Campbell completes a move to Portsmouth. Sammy Lee leaves the England coaching set‑up after declining an offer to look after the Under-21s.

Wednesday 9 Ashley Cole’s move is put on hold as Chelsea say they’re unwilling to meet Arsenal’s £25 million asking price. Liverpool start their Champions League campaign by scrambling a 2-1 win over Maccabi Haifa with an 89th-minute goal from debutant Mark Gonzalez. Hearts lose 2-1 at home to AEK Athens. “We haven’t turned the corner yet but I feel we’re getting close,” says Niall Quinn after another defeat for Sunderland, 1-0 at home to Birmingham. Conference club Crawley Town face liquidation, with debts of £1.4m.

Thursday 10 Newcastle win 1-0 away to Ventspils of Latvia in their UEFA Cup qualifier. Gretna, on their European debut, crash 5‑1 at home to Derry City.

Friday 11
There’s no place for David Beckham, Sol Campbell or David James in Steve McClaren’s first England squad. Dean Ashton gets a first call-up, as do Michael Dawson and Ben Foster. “It’s a new beginning, a new era, a terrific nucleus,” says McClaren, doing his special smile. Middlesbrough coach Steve Round will fill the Sammy Lee role. David Nugent scores twice as Preston win 3‑1 at Wolves in the Championship. And it’s not all bad  news for James, as he signs for Portsmouth from Man City for £1.2m.

Saturday 12
Burnley are top of the Championship after a 1‑1 draw at Sheffield Wednesday. Sunderland lose again, 3‑2 at home to Plymouth. “I have seen a bit of good, a lot of bad and an awful lot of ugly,” says Niall Quinn. Ipswich stay bottom after a third successive defeat, 3‑1 at Leicester. “I wasn’t going to chuck myself off a bridge after we lost our first two games and just because we’ve won I’m not going to treat myself to a holiday in New York,” says Foxes manager Rob Kelly. In League One Port Vale and Nottingham Forest keep their 100 per cent records. Forest win 1‑0 at Northampton despite missing a penalty for the third game in a row. Chesterfield beat Millwall 5‑1 and Rotherham win at Blackpool to take their points total up to minus seven. Walsall’s 2‑0 win over Hartlepool takes them top of League Two on goal difference from Swindon. Hearts keep their lead in the SPL despite only drawing 0‑0 at home with Falkirk. Titus Bramble escapes unscathed after writing off his car. “I had no idea he was a footballer. My wife just remarked, ‘What a lovely name’,” says the owner of the garden wall he crashed into. It’s a torrid week for Everton’s Andy van der Meyde. A few days after being hospitalised after allegedly having his drink spiked in a Liverpool bar, burglars break into his house and take, among other things, his pedigree puppy, Mac.

Sunday 13 Liverpool beat Chelsea 2‑1 in Cardiff to win the Community Shield. Peter Crouch heads the winner in the 80th minute from a Craig Bellamy cross, after Andriy Shevchenko scores in his first game for his new club. Chelsea finish up with Shevchenko and John Terry playing up front and have now lost three in a row including the end of last season. “If we shake hands, if we kiss, is that important?” demands José Mourinho, after the two managers make a point of ignoring each other at the final whistle. Crystal Palace overtake Burnley with their third win of the season, Clinton Morrison scoring the only goal of the game against Leeds, who have Geoff Horsfield sent off early on. In Scotland Dunfermline hold Rangers 1‑1 at home. Steven Gerrard’s autobiography (“the most explosive book of the decade” according to the News of the World) exclusively reveals that it was a mistake to take Theo Walcott to the World Cup and that England players were incorrect when they said they would win the tournament. A man from Leeds claims Chelsea talent scouts tried to sign his ten‑year‑old son by offering £10,000 and a new kitchen.

Monday 14
Aston Villa accept a £62.6m takeover bid from American billionaire Randy Lerner. A sticking point in the protracted bidding process turns out to have been Doug Ellis’s insistence on retaining an honorary role for himself at the club. Steve Staunton is threatened by a man with an imitation Uzi at Ireland’s team’s hotel.

Tuesday 15
Dean Ashton will miss England’s match with Greece after breaking his ankle in training. Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes are banned for three matches for being sent off in a pre-season match against Porto, leaving Sir Alex too angry to comment coherently. Theo Walcott scores after three minutes of his England Under‑21 debut but the team is held to a 2‑2 draw by Moldova. Wales’s friendly with Bulgaria finishes goalless. Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Isaksson joins Man City; Andy Reid leaves Spurs for Charlton. Glenn Roeder is hoping to bring Dutch striker Dirk Kuyt to Newcastle: “His body language on the pitch suggests he is the sort of player you would like in your dressing room.”

Wednesday 16 England 4 Greece 0, all the goals in the first half. Steve McClaren is bubbling: “Everybody wanted the ball and was dealing with the ball and you got big movement.” Debutant Chris Kirkland survives an entire 45 minutes without any dislocations. Northern Ireland win 2‑1 in Finland; Holland’s 4‑0 win in Dublin is the Republic’s biggest home defeat in 40 years. Chelsea make an official complaint against Ken Bates for calling club directors “a bunch of shysters from Siberia” during the dispute over the Leeds youth players. After having five bids rejected, Birmingham finally land striker Gary McSheffrey from Coventry for £4m and a stash of mags. West Ham sign Norwich keeper Robert Green.
Thursday 17 The Scottish Premier League invite ten clubs to form “SPL2”, for those with an all-seated capacity of at least 3,000. “It’s seismic,” says SPL chairman Lex Gold. Kanu becomes Portsmouth’s fifth signing of the summer, but Harry is still feeling frustrated: “Other clubs just don’t want to sell their good players.”

Friday 18 “There were a few clubs interested in me, but only Liverpool gave me that special feeling,” says Dirk Kuyt on signing for £10m. Wayne Rooney threatens to not take part in commercial activities for the FA in protest at his three-match ban, which will begin after this weekend: “It has left me devastated.”

Saturday 19 A great start for Reading, who recover from two down to beat Middlesbrough 3‑2. Arsenal need a late equaliser, set up by sub Theo Walcott, to salvage a 1‑1 draw with Villa, and it’s the same score at Bramall Lane where Liverpool scramble a point through a dubious penalty. Charlton take the lead at West Ham but then have debutant Djimi Traoré sent off before losing 3‑1. Lucas Neill is dismissed in Blackburn’s 3‑0 defeat at Portsmouth. Everton get a bizarre penalty in their 2‑1 win over Watford when the ball clearly hits Chris Powell on the head rather than the hand. Birmingham replace Palace as Championship leaders after beating them 2‑1 with an injury-time goal from another of their Arsenal loanees, Sebastian Larsson. Cardiff deputy chairman Peter Ridsdale claims to have been banned by Leeds for celebrating his side’s 1‑0 win there, which takes them second. Ken Bates disputes this: “It’s a pack of lies, but I’m sure he needs the attention.” “We realised today there are a percentage of players in the dressing room who are simply not good enough,” says Niall Quinn as Sunderland drop to the foot of the table after a fourth straight defeat, 3‑1 at Southend. Forest finally score from a penalty in their 2‑1 defeat of Brighton, but stay second in League One behind Port Vale, whose 3‑2 win over Chesterfield gives them their best start since 1929. Swindon are the only team in League Two with maximum points after a 2‑1 win at Darlington. Rangers are SPL leaders thanks to a 2‑0 victory against Hearts.

Sunday 20 Man Utd get four inside 20 minutes in a 5‑1 win over Fulham, with Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo among the scorers. “You could tell that they are the best of pals,” says Sir Alex. Chelsea beat Man City 3‑0. “Newcastle is just about the best brand in football in terms of fan base, stadium and history,” says a spokesman for something called the Belgravia Group, who are in takeover talks with the Hall family.

Monday 21
Bayern Munich may report Man Utd to FIFA for their pursuit of Owen Hargreaves, who seems set on a move. “Hargreaves is well advised to keep quiet. Otherwise I’ll get very angry and that will not be good for him,” says general manager Uli Hoeness. Redoubtable Dutch defender Khalid “The Cannibal” Boulahrouz completes a £6m move to Chelsea. Accrington beat Nottingham Forest 1‑0 in the Carling Cup.

Tuesday 22 Liverpool’s bank manager can breathe a little more easily as they reach the Champions League via a 1‑1 draw with Maccabi Haifa. “Aaron Lennon, in spurts, was unplayable,” says an admiring Neil Warnock after Sheffield Utd’s 2‑0 defeat at Spurs. Watford draw 1‑1 with West Ham, with Aidy Boothroyd predicting complaints about his team’s style: “We play to our strengths, and if that upsets some people it doesn’t worry me.” The Carling Cup brings a new low for Niall, who promises to bring in a “world-class manager very soon” after a 2‑0 defeat at the League’s bottom club Bury, though they did have defender Arnau Riera dismissed after four minutes. Four League Two clubs win away at Championship opponents including Barnet, 2‑0 victors at Cardiff, and Darlington, who have a player sent off after 12 minutes but go on to win 2‑1 at Stoke. Aberdeen are knocked out of the CIS Cup on penalties by Queen’s Park of the Third Division. Clyde sack manager Graham Roberts, who had been accused of making racist comments on a close-season tour. Juventus buy Jean-Alain Boumsong from Newcastle for £3.5m. Really, they have.

Wednesday 23
Chelsea are disowned by the boss – “That was not a José Mourinho team” – after two late goals mean they lose 2‑1 at Middlesbrough; Mark Schwarzer notes that the visitors didn’t stick around to shake hands: “It shows a lack of class – they will get a bad reputation.” Man Utd win 3‑0 at Charlton, where Ole Gunnar Solskjaer scores his first goal in three years. “There is plenty to do,” says Martin O’Neill as Villa labour to a 2‑1 win over Reading, who take the lead before the sending-off of Ibrahima Sonko. Ben Thatcher only gets a yellow card for an exceptionally violent challenge on Pedro Mendes during the 0‑0 draw between Man City and Portsmouth. In the Carling Cup, Sheffield Wed crash 4‑1 at home to Wrexham; 12 Championship sides, or their reserves, have lost to lower-league opponents this week. Arsenal complete a 5‑1 aggregate win over Croatia Zagreb. Hearts’ Julien Brellier gets a yellow card for wearing earrings and is later sent off in their 3‑0 defeat at AEK. Sir Bobby Robson has surgery for a brain tumour. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink leaves PSV for Celtic.

Thursday 24 Amazingly, Roy Keane is to be the new Sunderland manager, assisted by Brian Kidd. Man Utd and Celtic will meet in the Champions League. Chelsea get to play their annual matches with Barcelona, plus Bremen; Liverpool’s section includes PSV and Bordeaux; Arsenal face Porto and Hamburg. Having completed the signing of Obafemi Martins from Inter for £10m, Newcastle storm into the first round of the UEFA Cup with a 1‑0 aggregate win over Ventspils of Latvia. Drogheda lose 11‑10 on penalties to Start of Norway; Llanelli are also out, losing 5‑1 at home to Odense. Derry City see off Gretna 7‑3 on aggregate.
 
Friday 25 Dermot Gallagher is cut from the Premier League referees’ list for failing to send off Ben Thatcher, who is charged by the FA and dropped by Man City: “He is disgusted with himself and there is no way I, or anyone at my club, can defend it,” says Stuart Pearce. Celtic keeper Artur Boruc is cautioned for a breach of the peace, apparently for crossing himself in front of Rangers fans in February. “It is a worrying and alarming development,” says a spokesman for the Catholic church. “I think it’s the smallest gamble we have ever taken,” says Sam Allardyce of Nicolas Anelka, who joins Bolton for a club record £8m. West Ham and Spurs get tough UEFA Cup ties, with Palermo and Slavia Prague, while Blackburn meet Salzburg, the team buoyed by Red Bull millions. Newcastle return to the Baltic to play Levadia of Estonia. Hearts and Rangers get Sparta Prague and Molde of Norway respectively and Derry City will play Paris SG.

Saturday 26 Maximum points for Man Utd, who win 2‑1 at Watford; despite the narrow defeat, Aidy Boothroyd is distressed by his team’s performance: “We’ve got to decide if we are going to be a force or just roll over.” Everton are second after their first victory at Spurs in 21 years, both goals in their 2‑0 win coming after the dismissal of Kevin Kilbane. “We’re not completely ready yet,” says Arsène as Arsenal do everything but score at Man City, who win through Joey Barton’s spot-kick. Hermann Hreidarsson and Kevin Davies are sent off for flying elbows in Charlton’s 2‑0 win over Bolton who also miss a penalty. “I thought we had twins on the pitch, he covered so much ground,” says Chris Coleman of the world’s scruffiest man, Jimmy Bullard, who scores the only goal in Fulham’s defeat of Sheffield United. Cardiff’s biggest crowd since 1980, just over 20,000, sees them overhaul Birmingham to top the Championship with a 2‑0 win. League One leaders Forest drop points for the first time, drawing 1‑1 at Huddersfield; second place Port Vale also lose their 100 per record in a 1‑0 defeat at Yeovil. Swindon and Walsall hold the top two places in League Two; Jamie Forrester scores all Lincoln’s goals in their 4‑2 win at Mansfield. Celtic regain the SPL leadership with a 2‑1 win over Hibs.

Sunday 27
Villa’s 2‑0 win over Newcastle takes them up to joint second. Blackburn are bottom after a 2‑0 home defeat to Chelsea. José claims that Claude Makelele is being “treated like a slave” by France coach Raymond Domenech, who says the player will receive a domestic ban if he refuses to play in Euro 2008 qualifiers. Sheffield Wed lose 1‑0 to a contentious penalty against Leeds with Paul Sturrock fuming over the performance of Premiership referee Steve Bennett: “The pace of the game is a lot more in our league. They don’t seem to be able to handle the step down.”

Monday 28 Portsmouth are second after a 4‑0 win at Middlesbrough. “Everything just seemed very flat,” says a puzzled Gareth Southgate. Roy Keane sees Sunderland move off the bottom of the Championship with a 2‑0 win over West Brom. Owen Hargreaves seems to have given up on his move to Manchester. Scotland’s First Minister, Jack McConnell, says Artur Boruc was not cautioned for crossing himself but for “other acts”.

Wednesday 30 Thomas Gravesen is to join Celtic, who sell Stilian Petrov to Villa. Blackburn turn down Liverpool’s bid for Lucas Neill. Doncaster manager Dave Penney resigns. Man City fine Ben Thatcher six weeks’ wages and drop him for four games, with another two‑game ban suspended.
Thursday 31 The most tedious transfer saga in football history comes to an end as Ashley Cole joins Chelsea with William Gallas and £5m moving the other way. José Antonio Reyes also gets the move he was after, to Real Madrid in a year-long swap for Julio Baptista. Incredibly, West Ham sign Argentines Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano from Corinthians of Brazil, a club owned by a mysterious, possibly Russian-owned, company called MSI, who were linked with a takeover of the Hammers last year. “I didn’t have to sell West Ham to them. They knew all about our success last season and our style of play,” says Alan Pardew, surely as surprised as anyone. In other deadline-day transfers, Pascal Chimbonda finally joins Spurs, who also take Steed Malbranque from Fulham, with Wayne Routledge on loan in part exchange. Middlesbrough sign Robert Huth and get Jonathan Woodgate on loan; Andy Cole and Croatian Niko Kranjcar join Portsmouth.X

From WSC 236 October 2006. What was happening this month

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