THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Thursday 1 After a week of indecision Martin O’Neill finally takes over at Celtic, saying: “You would be mad to think you could repeat what Jock Stein did, but I am mad.” Steve Walsh is to apply for the Leicester vacancy, with Tony Cottee as his assistant. Somehow you expect them to be turned down. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink joins Chelsea for, ulp, £15 million and declares: “I am going to give 100 per cent, but will that be enough?” Libya’s gold reserves may be under threat after it is announced that Terry Venables is the preferred choice to succeed Carlos Bilardo as national coach.

Saturday 3 England nearly come a cropper in Malta, snatching a 2-1 win thanks to another penalty save from Richard Wright, also beaten from the spot for Malta’s goal. Keown and Heskey score for England, Alan Shearer’s famous flying elbows claim another victim in defender Darren Debono, who is taken off with a broken nose. “This was the worst foul I have ever suffered,” he says. “It was not what I expected from the England captain.” “We were too predictable on the ball at the back,” says Kev, as if it were a surprise.

Monday 5 Man Utd’s bid to prise Marcel Desailly away from Chelsea drives Britain’s angriest man, a pensioner called Ken, into a righteous fury: “The only chance Ferguson has of getting him is if we get Beckham, Cole and cash.” Sepp Blatter, keen to stir up trouble for his rivals within UEFA, joins in the Charleroi row: “Playing the game in another stadium should be considered.”

Wednesday 7 The National Criminal Intelligence Service in London is to give Belgian and Dutch border officials the names of around 1,000 Englishmen who are to be stopped and sent home if they try to enter either country. Sadly, Gary Newbon is there already. Finnish club Jokerit decline Middlesbrough’s offer to take Paul Gascoigne on loan. “I asked how expensive and was told he would probably like to have £28,000 a week,” laughs a club spokesman. Liverpool sign French winger Bernard Diomède. As though addicted to punishment, Ian Atkins, lately of Chester, takes the manager’s job at Carlisle.

Thursday 8 Brazil are said to be ready to pull out of bidding for the 2006 World Cup as part of a deal by which South Africa will get the votes of the three South American delegates in exchange for backing Brazil for 2010. Jack Warner, president of Concacaf, who also have three of the 24 votes on FIFA’s executive committee, suggests South Africa are clear favourites: “The decision will be taken in the interests of world football. South Africa shall have a reason to be very happy with the result.” Gareth Southgate asks Aston Villa for a transfer, saying: “I want to play in the biggest games possible and challenge for the championship.” Kev admits Alan Shearer may miss England’s Euro 2000 opener due to a knee injury picked up in Malta. “It’s touch and go, but my gut feeling is he will make it.”

Friday 9 English hooligans surface in Brussels where three News of the World reporters are arrested for brandishing knives in a park. Apparently they were seeking to expose lax security at Euro 2000.

Sunday 11 Police make 48 arrests after riots develop among fans celebrating Belgium’s opening win at Euro 2000. It is claimed “100 masked hooligans” joined the celebrating crowds and attacked property in the city centre. Indecisive Robert Pires, seemingly set for Highbury, now seems on his way to Real Madrid. Patrick Vieira, meanwhile, is getting itchy feet: “I have been at Arsenal for four years. Maybe I need a change.” Julian Joachim is the latest Villa player to demand a transfer, claiming the club have gone back on a promised pay rise. Ireland come second in the four-nation US Gold Cup after a 2-1 win over South Africa.

Monday 12 Peter Taylor becomes the new manager of Leicester City. “It’s progress for me and I’m sure Gillingham understand.” UEFA are to investigate claims that David Beckham made rude gestures to fans after the Portugal match. An FA spokesman responds: “Some of the players were subjected to disgusting abuse from a small group who we would hesitate to describe as England fans. We would have liked to have seen them arrested for their behaviour.”

Wednesday 14 Match of the Day will end after ITV pay £123 million – 50 per cent more than the BBC offered – to win the rights to Premiership highlights under the new TV deal. “It is a body blow,” says BBC boss Greg Dyke, “but we are spending public money, most of which would go to foreign footballers. Is that what we collect the licence fee for?” Sky will retain the live games and cable company NTL will get the 40 pay-per-view matches. The Premier League will receive £1.65 billion over the next three years, double what it got under the previous contract.

Thursday 15 Aston Villa have offered £3 million for David Ginola. “I hope David stays,” says George Graham with as much conviction as he can muster. Airdrie lay off all but three of their 30 players. The club’s administrators say its chances of survival are “no more than 50/50”.

Friday 16 Police use tear gas to subdue rioting English fans in Brussels. About 350 are arrested but will be released on Monday. “Too many dangerous hooligans reached Belgium,” says the mayor of Brussels. “Screening in Britain was not what we expected it to be.”

Saturday 17 Police using water cannon arrest 450 fans, most of them English, in Charleroi before and after the match with Germany. One England supporter is said to have been stabbed.

Sunday 18 UEFA threaten to expel England from Euro 2000 if the violence of the last two days is repeated. “This cannot go on,” says Lennart Johansson. “I hope that hooligans will understand what they are doing to their country.” David Davies responds: “The issue of how far a football association is responsible for so-called fans well away from any stadium – something UEFA has always rejected in the past – is a matter we will seek to discuss urgently.” “Hopefully this threat will bring to their senses anyone tempted to continue this mindless thuggery,” is the best Tony Blair can do.

Monday 19 The Football League concludes a new deal with ITV and Ondigital worth £315 million over three years. There will be live games on Thursdays and Sundays and pay-per-view on Fridays. “If any clubs get into trouble after this deal it will be purely down to bad management,” says Leyton Orient’s Barry Hearn, throwing stones from inside his greenhouse. Paul Jewell attempts to resign as Bradford manager, saying: “I want a new challenge.” His chairman Geoffrey Richmond is unimpressed: “I asked him if there is another club involved which he denies. I refused the resignation.” Christian Karembeu confirms he is to sign for Middlesbrough: “I want to have a taste of the country that invented football.” Ha, that old one.

Tuesday 20 Turkish fans riot in Brussels after their team’s victory over Belgium and attempt to attack bars where groups of English fans were drinking. “They were looking for British hooligans, for revenge,” says the mayor of Brussels. “They were psychologically attacked by the British hooligans.” Villa withdraw their bid for David Ginola, who is said to be unattracted by the prospect of moving to the west midlands.

Wednesday 21 Jumping before he’s pushed, Erich Ribbeck declines to renew his contract with the German FA which expires at the end of Euro 2000. Little Kev, however, will not be following suit: “I have not set the world on fire so far with my management skills but I still hope to get the opportunity to do that in a World Cup.” Paul Jewell is given permission to leave Bradford for Sheffield Wed. “I think I know what it takes to get into the Premier League,” he says.

Thursday 22 FA chairman Geoff Thompson wants to see Howard Wilkinson join Kev’s tip-top tactical team: “Kevin needs help in that department – he would accept that himself.” Kev, meanwhile, has decided against joining ITV’s Euro 2000 panel. Liverpool announce plans for a 70,000-capacity stadium adjacent to Anfield. A spokesman for Everton’s Shareholders Association says: “We applied to develop the same site two years ago and were turned down flat but it seems that the council will bend over backwards to help Liverpool.” Chris Hutchings, previously Paul Jewell’s assistant, becomes the new Bradford City manager. Geoffrey Richmond defends the appointment: “I know some people will say ‘Chris who?’ but they said that about Chris Kamara.” They did.

Sunday 25 A bad weekend for Kieron Dyer. It begins with a nightclub incident in Ipswich on Saturday morning which puts him in hospital with a cut face, and ends with the News of the World’s claim that he, Frank Lampard and Rio Ferdinand behaved like “sex animals”, whatever they may be, on a “depraved holiday” in Cyprus.

Monday 26 Alec McGivan, director of the 2006 World Cup bid, accuses UEFA of exaggerating the trouble in Charleroi to undermine England’s bid. “One could not help wondering if there was not a whiff of Byzantine politics here.” A government spokesman denies Tony Blair has secretly asked the FA to withdraw the bid. Bruce Rioch is the new Wigan manager. “Our aim is the Premiership. If we don’t have that ambition, what is the point of playing football?” asks chairman Dave Whelan.
   
Tuesday 27 Bradford have only six first-teamers for their Intertoto trip to Lithuania, the others being on holiday. Geoffrey Richmond seems happily oblivious: “It’s all part of what promises to be a very, very exciting European adventure for Bradford City.”

Wednesday 28 The arrival of Croatian Mario Stanic from Parma takes Chelsea’s pre-season spending to nearly £25 million. Danny Wilson takes over at Bristol City. “I’ve got a gut feeling about this one,” he says. Terry Venables’s media mates start to push their boy’s candidacy for the England job with the Daily Mail reporting TV as saying: “A lot of people tell me I should re-open the door to an approach if Kevin walks away.” But “this does not imply any criticism of Kevin”. Very slick.

Thursday 29 Kenny Dalglish is sacked as Celtic’s director of football and is so shocked he talks about himself in the third person. “The most important thing now is for Kenny Dalglish to look after Kenny Dalglish.” Would that be a novelty? Notts County’s new manager is the former Dundee boss Jocky Scott. England bit players Richard Wright and Nick Barmby both ask for transfers. Wright is linked with Celtic, Barmby would prefer Liverpool.

Friday 30 A leaked FIFA technical report into the rival bidders for 2006 places England behind Germany and South Africa, prompting Alec McGivan, leader of the doomed English bid, to all but ask Sepp Blatter to step outside: “I think he will live to regret the fact that he took such a partial position at the outset of the campaign.” Two pieces of exciting news for Sheffield Wed fans. First, the club have offloaded Pavel Srnicek to Napoli (yes, Napoli) and second, the team’s shirts are to be sponsored by Chupa Chups, “the international confectionery brand”. Frank Rijkaard resigns as Dutch coach. “I set myself one target and I failed.”

From WSC 162 August 2000. What was happening this month

More...