Tuesday 2 “Pride, sadness, injustice – they are all rolled in there,” says Gordon as Celtic beat Artmedia 4‑0 in the second leg of their Champions League tie. Liverpool complete a 5‑1 aggregate victory over Kaunas. Joey Barton makes a public appeal to his missing stepbrother, whom police want to question regarding the murder of black teenager Michael Walker in Liverpool. Milan Baros won’t be moving to Schalke, whose general manager says: “We could only justify the move if we were guaranteed to play in the Champions League for the next three seasons.” Andy Johnson won’t be moving anywhere, for a few months at least, after signing a five-year deal with Palace, with no help from his agent, who has been banned from the club. Michael Owen concedes that his advisors have been in contact with several Premiership clubs, but adds: “I am confident that Real Madrid will have my best interests at heart whatever happens.”
Wednesday 3 “We can now concentrate fully on the job in hand,” says Graeme Souness after Newcastle bow out of the Intertoto following a 2‑1 home defeat by Deportivo La Coruña. Man Utd chief executive David Gill admits to having offered a cash donation to fans group Supporters United in 2004 to help them oppose takeover bids. Nicky Butt joins Birmingham on a one-year loan.
Thursday 4 Everton’s long search for a star name continues, but in the meantime they sign Phil Neville for £3.5m. Michael Essien is going on strike until Lyon agree to sell him to Chelsea. The unsettled Jermaine Jenas may not go that far, but, says Souness, “he feels like he’s living in a goldfish bowl in Newcastle”.
Saturday 6 The League opening day’s early kick-off, at Bramall Lane, sees the biggest win, Sheffield Utd scoring three in the last ten minutes to beat Leicester 4‑1. Luton create the main surprise, winning 2‑1 at Palace – Mike Newell claims that his side were motivated by “condescending” remarks in the programme. Stoke’s Gerry Taggart is the first player to be sent off; his team later miss a penalty in a 0‑0 draw with Sheffield Wed. Nigel Worthington ticks off “a lot of people in the city who think this season is going to be a cakewalk” after Norwich’s 1‑1 draw with Coventry. Hull’s 0‑0 draw with QPR is marred by home chants about the London bombings. Steve Cotterill claims his players were racially abused by an opposition fan during Burnley’s 2‑1 defeat at Crewe. David Johnson, who had been expected to leave Forest after falling out with Gary Megson, gets their late winner in a 2‑1 defeat of Huddersfield. Swansea draw the biggest lower-division crowd, 16,733, for their 1‑0 defeat of Tranmere at their new ground. Not the best of days for new Peterborough boss Mark Wright, who is taunted by a director from his old club Chester during their 1‑0 win, then ignores his opposite number Keith Curle at the final whistle, saying: “I don’t shake hands with people I don’t respect.” Gretna, who got 130 goals last season, begin in Scottish Division Two with a 5‑1 thumping of Forfar. Rafa Benítez is mightily annoyed that Liverpool have been denied a work permit for Chile winger Mark Gonzalez: “Fifty per cent of the players in the Premiership are worse than him.” Wigan sign Wolves’ Henri Camara.
Sunday 7 Chelsea win the Community Shield with Didier Drogba scoring both goals in a 2‑1 victory over Arsenal. Arsène suggests that José talks to the hand: “We have won four Community Shields and no one regards it as a trophy so I do not mind anymore.” Leeds’ smallest crowd since 1989 sees them beat Millwall 2‑1. Hearts are top of the SPL after beating Hibernian 4‑0. Kleberson, who has apparently been a Man Utd player for two years, joins Besiktas for £2m. Rio Ferdinand agrees a four-year deal worth £100,000 a week, the sticking point said to have been a “loyalty bonus” of £1m due during his drugs-test ban.
Tuesday 9 Several hundred Man Utd fans protest outside Old Trafford before the Champions League game against Debrecen, watched by the Glazers and a low crowd of 51,701, 25 per cent below capacity; United win 3‑0. Everton are beaten 2‑1 at home by Villarreal who, incredibly, seem quite able to cope with James Beattie and Duncan Ferguson, while Rangers win by the same score away to Anorthosis in Cyprus. In the Championship, Luton win again, 3‑2 at home to Southampton (“We are clearly short of quality,” says Harry Redknapp, while texting furiously). Also on maximum points are Sheffield Utd, who beat Burnley. Walsall carry on their spring form with a seventh straight victory, a 3‑2 win over Forest, to be joint top of League One. Leyton Orient are the only team with a 100 per cent record in League Two after a 2‑1 win at Bury.
Wednesday 10 Liverpool ease towards the Champions League group stage with a 3‑1 win against CSKA in Sofia, where Djibril Cissé is racially abused by home fans. Ashley Cole’s legal advisers may appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after a Premier League committee upholds the guilty verdict in the tapping‑up case. Brentford are new League One leaders after 3‑1 win at Chesterfield. Wigan bring back Arjan De Zeeuw from Portsmouth on a free transfer.
Thursday 11 “We don’t have a marketing network to exploit,” says Sam Allardyce, in case anyone wonders about Bolton’s motivation for taking Japan’s Hidetoshi Nakata on loan from Fiorentina. Linfield and Cork City both have a chance of making UEFA Cup progress after 1‑1 draws in Sweden with Halmstads and Djugårdens respectively. Dundee United also draw, 0‑0 in Finland against MyPa. Nigerian starlet Jon Obi Mikel, subject of a transfer dispute between Man Utd and Chelsea, has been ordered by FIFA to return to his Norwegian club, Lyn.
Saturday 13 High excitement at Villa Park, where all the goals in the 2‑2 draw with Bolton come in the first nine minutes, but there’s not a lot elsewhere in the Premiership, with seven teams failing to score (“An absolutely swashbuckling performance from both teams,” says sarky Steve Bruce of a goalless draw at Craven Cottage). West Ham are around 33 points from safety after opening with a 3‑1 defeat of Blackburn. Sunderland, though, lose by the same score at home to Charlton, for whom debutant Darren Bent gets two. “We know it is going to be a steep learning curve for us again,” says Mick McCarthy, who has now overseen ten successive Premiership defeats. Wayne Rooney scores his first goal against Everton in Man Utd’s 2‑0 win at Goodison and has a word afterwards for Chelsea’s Peter Kenyon: “There have been comments about only one team being in it but that’s rubbish.” Luton draw 0‑0 with Leeds but stay top of the Championship, level with QPR, whose chairman Gianni Paladini is threatened at gunpoint before a 2‑1 win over with Sheffield Utd; club director Dave Morris is among four men arrested. Wolves’ 1‑0 win over Hull sets a new club record of 21 games unbeaten. The superbly named Shane Supple makes his debut as a substitute goalkeeper for Ipswich in their 0‑0 draw with Leicester. Southend’s 89th-minute equaliser in a 2‑2 draw denies Walsall a club-record eighth successive win, but they still lead League One. Leyton Orient take a two-point lead in League Two after a 1‑0 victory at Darlington. FC United beat Leek CSOB 5‑2 in their first North-West Counties League match.
Sunday 14 Chelsea take 93 minutes to score the goal, from Hernán Crespo, by which they beat Wigan. José is embarrassed: “It was too bad to be true.” Paul Jewell declines consolation: “It’s a moral victory of sorts, but I hate all that kind of stuff.” Arsenal labour to a 2‑0 win over Newcastle, who have Jermaine Jenas sent off in the first half. Graeme Souness, twice charged for being beastly to referees last season, avoids the post-match press conference. Liverpool are to offer £12m for Michael Owen, possibly against their manager’s wishes. Darren Bent is called into the England squad to replace the injured Andy Johnson, Alan Smith having declined the invitation (“Not his cleverest move,” says FA chief executive Brian Barwick). Hearts are two points clear in the SPL after winning 3‑0 at Dundee Utd while Rangers lose 3‑2 at Aberdeen, the latter’s first win in the fixture for 25 matches.
Monday 15 Michael Essien joins Chelsea for £26m; Roman Abramovich has spent an average of £10m a month in transfer fees since taking over. Wigan, who have barely dipped into Dave Whelan’s millions, sell Nathan Ellington to West Brom for £3m with the player claiming that contract negotiations collapsed because “I’m a quiet sort of fellow and they tried to take advantage of that”. Jermaine Jenas’s red card is reduced to a yellow. Madcap Martin Allen is sent to the stands during Brentford’s 1‑0 defeat at Port Vale for “dissent by action” when he mimed several high kicks to demonstrate an unpunished foul (it will turn up on end-of-season compilations).
Wednesday 17 England suffer their worst defeat in 25 years, losing 4‑1 in Denmark, and Sven gets steamed up for once: “We did nothing right in 45 minutes. I am upset about that.” David James, who conceded all four goals after replacing Paul Robinson at half-time, reveals that he didn’t warm up properly: “The watchwords are practice, practice, practice.” Scotland take a two-goal lead in Austria but concede twice in the last seven minutes for a 2‑2 draw. The Republic of Ireland lose 2‑1 at home to Italy, Northern Ireland draw 1‑1 in Malta and Wales and Slovenia finishes goalless. David Bellion joins West Ham from Man Utd on a season’s loan; Fredi Kanouté is Sevilla-bound for £4m.
Friday 19 West Ham may receive a takeover bid, of around £200m, from a company fronted by Anglo-Iranian “entrepreneur” Kia Joorabchian, who has denied reported links to Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky. Newcastle’s hunt for a striker may be about to end, Deportivo’s Alberto Luque having been hit with a tranquilising dart and carted off to meet Freddy.
Saturday 20 “You don’t go mad after two games,” warns Martin Jol, but another 2‑0 win for Spurs, against Middlesbrough, takes them top. Man Utd also keep up their 100 per cent record, a Van Nistelrooy strike beating Villa. Sir Alex is aquiver: “There are goals here, I can smell them.” West Ham get a 0‑0 draw at Newcastle despite having Paul Konchesky controversially sent off with 40 minutes left. Graeme Souness consults his shopping list: “We need a door opener and a goalscorer.” Man City’s 2‑1 win at Birmingham is their tenth away match without defeat. Blackburn beat Fulham by the same score with two spectacular volleys, by Morten Gamst Pedersen and Tugay. Wigan lose at Charlton, Sunderland lose at Liverpool, both going down 1-0. Norwich are one of four winless teams in the Championship, losing to a twice-taken penalty at Southampton. Millwall stay bottom after a 5‑0 thrashing at leaders Reading; keeper Andy Marshall is sent off at 1‑0 and two outfielders have a go. Steve Claridge makes his playing debut for Gillingham in their 1‑0 win over Bournemouth. Another of his former clubs, Brentford, lead League One on goal difference from Oldham. Forest are 20th after a 1‑0 defeat in their first ever league match with Scunthorpe. Barnet’s 1‑0 win over Macclesfield takes them to the top of League Two; Torquay are bottom after losing a two-goal lead in a 3‑2 defeat by Bristol Rovers. Hearts continue their 100 per cent run in the SPL with a 2‑0 defeat of Aberdeen. Celtic’s Neil Lennon is sent off after their 3‑1 by Rangers for protesting about the first-half dismissal of team-mate Alan Thompson.
Sunday 21 In what Sky build up as “the Premiership face-off” Chelsea beat Arsenal with what Arsène rightly identifies as “a very, very cheap goal”, which bounces in off Didier Drobga’s shin. Everton also get a fortunate 1‑0 win, at Bolton, though Marcus Bent’s shot was meant.
Tuesday 23 “We’re top of the league so why play it down?” asks Stuart Pearce after Man City’s win 2‑1 at Sunderland. “Nobby was livid,” says a vexed David O’Leary of Solano’s early dismissal in Villa’s 1‑1 draw at Portsmouth, while Steve Bruce is in confessional mood after Birmingham’s 3‑0 home defeat by Middlesbrough: “I pick the team and I may have picked the wrong team.” Among the six Championship clubs who lose to lower-division clubs in the Carling Cup, Ipswich are beaten 2‑0 at home by Yeovil while Crewe and QPR crash 5‑1 and 3‑0 at Lincoln and Northampton, respectively. Liverpool lose 1‑0 at home to CSKA Sofia, but go through to the Champions League group stage 3‑2 on aggregate. Milan Baros joins Villa for £6m. Nathan Blake, currently without a club, receives a six-month ban for a positive drugs test. Everton deny Alan Stubbs’ claim that he declined a new contract because they wanted a cancellation clause if his testicular cancer returned.
Wednesday 24 West Brom’s focus on the coming match with Birmingham prompts them to leave out several players for their 4‑0 defeat at Chelsea. Martin Jol is unhappy with Blackburn’s combative approach during the goalless draw at Ewood Park: “They were very aggressive – the evidence is Andy Reid has a big lump on his forehead.” Arsenal miss a penalty then go a goal down to Fulham, but recover to win 4‑1. Thierry scores two so is one behind Ian Wright’s club record. Man Utd and Rangers sashay into the Champions League proper, but Everton are out after losing 2‑1 at Villarreal, though they have a goal controversially disallowed at 1‑1. Newcastle put in what Graeme calls “a whacking great offer” for Michael Owen, who would prefer to join Liverpool but may not get that option.
Thursday 25 Chelsea and Liverpool will play in the same Champions League group. Ajax are in Arsenal’s section, Man Utd get Villarreal, Rangers’ group includes Artmedia, Slovak conquerors of Celtic. Cork City knock Djurgårdens out of the UEFA Cup but Dundee United lose on away goals to MyPa of Finland. Southend striker Freddie Eastwood has his three-match ban for a red card extended by one game for what the FA say was a “frivolous” appeal against the suspension. Jim Duffy is sacked by Scottish First Division leaders Dundee.
Friday 26 In the UEFA Cup, Everton will play Dinamo Bucharest, Middlesbrough Xanthi and Bolton Lokomotiv Plovdiv, whose president was shot dead yesterday. Hibs face Dnipro of Ukraine, Cork City are up against Slavia Prague. Liverpool defeat CSKA Moscow 3‑1 to win the European Super Cup. It’s all happening at Bradford, who turn down an offer from Wigan for Dean Windass (yes, really) and sign the restless nomad Steve Claridge from Gillingham. Newcastle finally sign Alberto Luque.
Saturday 27 The new-look Spurs maintain an old tradition, losing to Chelsea, whose task is made easier by the first-half dismissal of Mido. José is purring: “We showed emotional control and didn’t go looking for a big win.” Man City are second after a third successive win, 2‑1 over Portsmouth. David O’Leary gives a thumbs-up to the directors’ box after Milan Baros scores the only goal on his debut against Blackburn. “It was all over in 12 seconds,” says Paul Jewell of the very early penalty by which Wigan beat Sunderland. Bryan Robson might rethink his resting policy after West Brom are beaten 3‑2 by Birmingham. Sheffield Utd lead the Championship after a last-minute debut penalty by David Unsworth beats Coventry 2‑1; Millwall’s defeat by the same score at home to Ipswich leaves them two points adrift at the bottom. Brentford lead five clubs level on points at the top of League One. Macclesfield, who won at Forest in the Carling Cup in midweek, drop to the foot of the table with a 3‑1 defeat by Rochdale. Hearts’s 2‑1 win over Motherwell gives them a five-point lead in the SPL; Rangers are fourth after crashing 3‑0 at home to Hibs, for whom substitute Ivan Sproule scores all three.
Sunday 28 “That was a Middlesbrough team I didn’t recognise,” says Steve McClaren after a 3‑0 home defeat by Charlton. It’s another blank day for Newcastle, still goalless after a 2‑0 defeat by Man Utd. Graeme skips the post-match interviews in favour of a nice long shout.
Wednesday 31 Michael Owen joins Newcastle for £17 million, though Freddy Shepherd has to deny there is a clause that will allow him to move after a year for £12m before calling him “our very own Geordie galáctico”. Newcastle recoup some of the outlay by selling Jermaine Jenas to Spurs for £7m. Other deadline day deals include David Connolly leaving Leicester for Wigan, Everton signing winger Andy van der Meyde from Inter, Nobby Solano returning to Newcastle from Villa (who get James Milner on loan to soften the blow) and Brazilian midfielder Fabio Rochemback joining Middlesbrough. Derby fans are to stage protests about the surprise sale of striker Grzegorz Rasiak to Spurs. Tunbridge Wells and Littlehampton set an FA Cup penalty shootout record in their replayed preliminary-round tie, which the former win 16‑15 from a total of 40 kicks.
From WSC 225 November 2005. What was happening this month