THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Wednesday 3 Hearts’ win over Aberdeen means they will take Scotland’s second place in the Champions League. Sam Allardyce seems to have conceded defeat in his bid for the England coach’s job after Bolton’s 1‑1 draw with Middlesbrough: “It just does not look as though I am the favourite at the moment.”

Thursday 4 “I’m probably the proudest man in England today,” says Steve McClaren on being named Sven’s successor after a “unanimous” vote by the FA’s selection committee. Arsenal still have a chance of finishing fourth after a 3‑1 win at Man City; Sunderland get their first home win of the season, 2‑1 against Fulham – “We needed to send them home happy,” says caretaker manager Kevin Ball.

Friday 5
Irish broadcaster Setanta will show 46 live Premiership matches per season when the new TV deal starts in 2007, Sky having been forced to relinquish exclusive rights by a European Commission ruling. Preston draw 1‑1 at Leeds in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final. Canvey Island will withdraw from the Conference as their manager and financial backer Jeff King is to take over at Chelmsford City.

Saturday 6 Watford beat Crystal Palace 3‑0 at Selhurst Park in their Championship play‑off semi‑final, all the goals coming in the second half. Iain Dowie isn’t giving up yet, though: “If we get one there is life. If we get two, it’s on.” In League One Colchester are promoted to the second tier for the first time in their history after a 0‑0 draw at Yeovil. “We’ll be playing teams like Ipswich, Norwich, Sunderland, Birmingham and West Brom next year. That is dreamland,” says Phil Parkinson. Southend are champions after a 1‑0 win at home to Bristol City. Swansea pip Nottingham Forest for the final play‑off spot with a 4‑0 win at Chesterfield, Leon Knight scoring a hat‑trick. Swindon, Hartlepool and MK Dons are relegated after all three draw. “It was great that so many of our fans came here for a miserable last game,” says Dons chairman Pete Winkleman, still not quite getting it. In League Two Lincoln claim the final play‑off spot with a 1‑1 draw at home to Rochdale. Oxford United, needing a victory, drop out of the League after a 3‑2 home defeat by Leyton Orient, the winner coming in the last seconds and taking the Os up at the expense of Grimsby. In the Conference play‑off semi‑finals Halifax take a 3‑0 half-time lead against Grays but end up hanging on for a 3‑2 win.

Sunday 7
“We feel gutted,” quips Martin Jol, after ten Spurs players go down with food poisoning at the team hotel ahead of a 2‑1 final-day defeat to West Ham – the Premier League turn down a request to postpone the game. Despite having been out of the top four all season, Arsenal take the final Champions League spot with a 4‑2 home win against Wigan, Thierry Henry scoring a hat‑trick in the last game at Highbury. Manchester United finish second after beating Charlton 4‑0. Ruud van Nistelrooy is seen driving away in a huff after being named among the subs. “It was such an important day and I wanted everyone to be together,” says Sir Alex, sounding like your mum at Christmas. Liverpool beat Portsmouth 3‑1 and a 1‑0 win against Chelsea at St James’ Park sees Newcastle qualify for the Intertoto Cup. “It’s Fantasy Island stuff,” says Glenn Roeder, possibly with a July trip to Malta or the Faroes in mind. Duncan Ferguson scores with a penalty rebound in the last minute of his final game as Everton draw 2‑2 with West Brom at Goodison. “There aren’t many people like Duncan left in the game,” says Steve Watson. “He had cramp in both calves,” adds David Moyes, saving his emotional tribute for another time. Bolton beat Birmingham 1‑0, Villa see off Sunderland and Blackburn’s 2‑0 win at home to Man City is the latter’s ninth defeat in ten games. Steve McClaren names 15 home‑grown players in his squad as Boro lose 1‑0 at Fulham. “It was a heroic performance and an injustice that we lost,” he says after a late goal, getting in some practice for the next four years. Morecambe and Hereford draw 1‑1 in the first leg of their Conference play‑off semi‑final. In Scotland Rangers win 2‑0 at Hearts in Alex McLeish’s final game in charge. Merseyside police announce that a cache of FA Cup final tickets has been stolen from a Royal Mail van in Liverpool city centre.

Monday 8
England’s World Cup squad is full of surprises. Theo Walcott gets the nod ahead of Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent, despite never having played in the Premiership. Aaron Lennon is also included, while Shaun Wright‑Phillips misses out. “Sometimes you do it on feelings and I am excited about Theo Walcott,” says Sven, raising his eyebrows just slightly. Leeds reach the Championship play-off final with a 2‑0 win at Preston, who have now lost in a record seven play-offs without winning any. There will be an investigation into abusive graffiti aimed at home-team manager Billy Davies found in the Leeds dressing room.

Tuesday 9 Sven confesses that he hasn’t seen Theo Walcott play except in training. Spurs make a formal request to have the West Ham match replayed. “Our fans have been left with a sense of suspicion and injustice at the way subsequent events unfolded,” says chairman Daniel Levy. Watford manager Adrian Boothroyd may be banned from the play-off final after instigating a touchline punch‑up during the 0‑0 draw with Palace. The thousand or so Liverpool fans whose Cup tickets were stolen won’t be given duplicates. “We can’t compromise on segregation or the safety of our employees,” says a Millennium Stadium spokesman. Instead the club is expected to provide replacements from tickets held back for a members’ ballot. The Premier League accept Newcastle’s request to be allowed to appoint Glenn Roeder as manager without his having the required UEFA Pro Licence, in part because Roeder was on the course when he collapsed with a brain tumour while in charge of West Ham and he will now complete the course. Rotherham will begin next season in League One with ten points deducted after going into administration.

Wednesday 10 “I don’t know if the occasion got to our players,” says Steve McClaren, both florid and pale, as Middlesbrough are thrashed 4‑0 in the UEFA Cup final, three of Sevilla’s goals coming in the last 12 minutes. Pascal Chimbonda, a surprise inclusion in France’s World Cup squad, is ordered to stay away from Wigan after handing in a transfer request directly after their match at Arsenal. Halifax reach the Conference play-off final after a 2‑2 draw at Grays. Danny Wilson is sacked by MK Dons.

Thursday 11 Huddersfield win 1‑0 at Barnsley in their League One play-off, while Swansea and Brentford draw 1‑1. Hereford are in the Conference play-off final after a 3‑2 extra-time win against Morecambe. Walter Smith’s New Model Scotland beat Bulgaria 5‑1 in the Kirin Cup in Japan – it’s their biggest win since thrashing the Faroes by the same score in 1994. Joe Royle leaves Ipswich. The entire Juventus board resigns after revelations about general manager Luciano Moggi’s role in selecting favourable referees for their matches.

Saturday 13
Liverpool win the FA Cup, beating West Ham 3‑1 on penalties after a 3‑3 draw in normal time. José Reina is the hero after saving two penalties in the shootout, following a couple of earlier blunders. “Goalkeepers live in a small land between mistakes and saves,” he says, possibly referring to somewhere in Cheshire. Only a 90th-minute goal by Steven Gerrard, his second equaliser of the game, stops West Ham becoming the first team for ten years from outside the current big four to win the Cup. Hearts take the Scottish Cup, beating Gretna 4‑2 on penalties after a 1‑1 draw. “People will see this is a proper team and a proper club. There were two winners out there today,” says Gretna owner Brooks Mileson, coming out with a proper cliche. In the League Two play‑offs Grimsby win 1‑0 at Lincoln, who beat them 5‑0 in the league six weeks ago. “Lincoln won’t change – Lincoln are Lincoln,” warns Town manager Russell Slade ahead of the second leg. Cheltenham also win away, 2‑1 at Wycombe, Steve Guinan scoring the winner, before revealing their secret: “The manager has this saying before training and every game, ‘We’re not Chelsea we’re Cheltenham’.”

Sunday 14 Swansea beat Brentford 2‑0 to reach the League One play-off final, Leon Knight scoring both goals in the first half to complete a 3‑1 aggregate win. It’s Brentford’s sixth defeat in play-offs from this division. Scotland lift the Kirin Cup after a 0‑0 draw with Japan. “They seem to have a lot of potential,” says Zico, politely. Grays retain the FA Trophy, beating Woking 2‑0.

Monday 15 Michael Ballack completes his move to Chelsea, for whom it’s always been his dream to play and so on. Huddersfield are the latest home team to flop in the play-offs, as Barnsley’s 3‑1 win there takes them to the final on a 3‑2 aggregate. In a sponsorship deal that hints at self‑mockery, the Football League Trophy will be the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy from next season. It’s also announced that Conference clubs, who have taken part for the past five years, will no longer be involved in the competition.

Tuesday 16 Finally, a home triumph in the play-offs – Grimsby’s 2‑1 defeat of Lincoln taking them into the League Two final. Norwegian linesman Ole Hermann Borgan is dropped from the Champions League final after an hysterical fuss over his being photographed in a Barcelona shirt for his local paper. Investigators from the Health Protection Agency say that the Spurs players’ tummy tribulations were not caused by their pre‑match meal. Glenn Roeder is confirmed as Newcastle boss. Maurice Malpas replaces the Sydney‑bound Terry Butcher at Motherwell. Morecambe sack manager Jim Harvey on the day he was due to return after a heart attack; his stand‑in Sammy McIlroy gets the job.

Wednesday 17
Arsenal lose the Champions League final to two late Barcelona goals, having taken a first-half lead through Sol Campbell. Jens Lehman is sent off after 18 minutes for bringing down Samuel Eto’o; Ludovic Giuly goes on to put the ball in the net but a free‑kick had already been given. Thierry Henry has a right old rant about the officiating afterwards – “If the referee did not want us to win he should have said so from the off” – while Arsène thinks Barcelona’s equaliser was offside: “Why do we have to take it? Yes, I am angry.” Cheeky jackanapes Dennis Wise is to be the new Swindon manager. Middlesbrough play down reports that they are to appoint Terry Venables – it’s almost as though he had mates in the media who were making the stories up. Spurs pay £11 million for Bayer Leverkusen’s Bulgaria striker Dimitar Berbatov.
Thursday 18 Cheltenham’s goalless draw with Wycombe takes them through to the League Two play-off final. Hull’s Peter Taylor, still an up-and-coming manager at the age of 53, decides against taking the Charlton job. Champions League final referee Terje Hauge says he made a mistake in sending off Jens Lehmann: “I would like to have taken a few more seconds to make my decision.”

Friday 19 Thierry Henry is to stay with Arsenal: “I think with my heart and my heart told me to stay.” Vice‑chairman David Dein claims that two “prominent Spanish clubs” each offered £50m for Henry. Didier Drogba, however, wants to leave Chelsea due to media criticism of various handball and diving incidents: “But anywhere I go, the Champions League will be there waiting for me.” Hibs manager Tony Mowbray declines an invitation to be interviewed for the Ipswich vacancy. Latvian Valeri Belokon, an associate of the London‑based oligarch Boris Berezovsky, is to invest £5m in Blackpool, who will make him club president – he might even get a statue.

Saturday 20 Hereford return to the League after a nine-year absence, beating Halifax 3‑2 in the Conference play-off final. “Relief is my overriding feeling,” says chairman‑manager Graham Turner, whose side had been runners‑up for the past three seasons. Andriy Shevchenko, married to an American, admits that he has thought about moving to the Premiership as a way of improving his English: “The problem is me, because I do not know my wife or my son’s language and when can I study in Milan?”

Sunday 21 Watford are promoted to the Premiership with a 3‑0 win over Leeds. “The best way to sum it all up is to say we are now a model for other clubs that don’t have a great deal of money,” says Adrian Boothroyd. Leeds’ Kevin Blackwell has known worse times: “We’re not as disappointed as when we dropped out of the Premier League and lost all our players.” A Ryan Giggs goal gives Wales a win in their unofficial match against a Basque XI in Bilbao. Northern Ireland lose by the same score at home to Uruguay.
Monday 22 Iain Dowie leaves Crystal Palace after a bust‑up with the most opinionated man in Britain, chairman Simon Jordan. Ruud van Nistelrooy says he expects to be with a new club next season but not out of choice: “I know a lot of people in Manchester don’t understand it, well it is the same for me.” Stoke’s Icelandic owners agree to sell the club back to former chairman Peter Coates. Belfast City Airport is to be renamed after George Best.

Tuesday 23
“Why Arsenal? Because I think they are the best club in Europe,” says Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky on signing from Dortmund for £7m. Nigel Spackman, a Sky pundit for the past few seasons, is the new manager of Millwall. Altrincham lose their appeal to the Conference against having 18 points deducted. As a result, Scarborough, who came out of administration last week, will be saved from relegation. Prince William’s proposed visit to the England dressing room after their first World Cup match on June 10 has been cancelled as the FA fear that he may see players “arguing and swearing”. This would be the same prince who is training to be an army officer.

Wednesday 24 Man Utd doctor Mike Stone leaves the club suddenly over a “difference of opinion” with Sir Alex, said to be related to positive news bulletins about Wayne Rooney’s recovery. Preston’s Billy Davies says he has “massive decisions to make” after talking to Charlton about their vacancy. Keith Alexander leaves Lincoln City. West Brom turn down Spurs’ offer of £3.5m for centre-back Curtis Davies. Wigan and Bolton have both had bids for Andy Johnson accepted by Palace.

Thursday 25 Robert Green is out of the World Cup after rupturing himself taking a goal-kick during England B’s 2‑1 defeat by Belarus. Scott Carson will come in. The Republic of Ireland lose 1‑0 at home to Chile. Bad-publicity magnet Kieron Dyer is arrested for allegedly exposing himself in Norwich two months ago. Chelsea will pay Man Utd £10m for John Obi Mikel, who hasn’t played this season after the two clubs argued over who had signed him. Robert Pires joins Villarreal. Charlton decide not to appoint Billy Davies. Bury have one point deducted for using an ineligible player in their 1‑1 draw with Lincoln in April.
Friday 26 Wayne Rooney will have another scan on June 14 to determine whether he’ll be able to take part in the World Cup group stages. Gudmundur Thordarsson leaves Notts County. Fernando Morientes signs for Valencia, whose Italian striker Marco Di Vaio declines to go to Liverpool in part‑exchange: “I am not a parcel.”

Saturday 27 Barnsley win the League One play-off final 4‑3 on penalties after a 2‑2 draw with Swansea. Carlisle’s 4‑2 League Two win over Boston in March is to be investigated after claims that Far East gamblers bet huge sums on a victory by more than one goal. Wales beat Trinidad & Tobago 2‑1. Northern Ireland lose 2‑0 to Romania.

Sunday 28 Cheltenham are promoted from League Two, beating Grimsby 1‑0 in the play-off final. Billy Davies threatens Preston with legal action over being denied permission to talk to managerless Derby.

Monday 29 The scan on Wayne Rooney’s foot is to be brought forward to June 7, two days before the deadline for changing the squad. Andy Johnson completes an £8.5m move to Everton, in preference to Bolton and Wigan. Having missed out on Johnson, Paul Jewell launches a bid to sign Emile Heskey from Birmingham while Steve Bruce brings in Cameron Jerome from Cardiff. Keith Alexander takes over at Peterborough.

Tuesday 30 England beat Hungary 3-1. No players break limbs during the match, which is mainly notable for Peter Crouch’s alarming dance after scoring the third. Iain Dowie takes over at Charlton and is served with a writ by Palace for “fraudulent statements about his reasons for leaving the club”. Colin Calderwood leaves Northampton to become Forest manager; Martin Allen resigns from Brentford. Juan Miguel Villar Mir, one of two candidates in Real Madrid’s pending presidential elections, wants Arsène Wenger as manager. David Dein is texting furiously right now.

From WSC 233 July 2006. What was happening this month

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