Friday 2 All league football in Italy is suspended after the death of a policeman in a riot outside Catania’s stadium during their match with Palermo. “What we’re witnessing has nothing to do with football, so Italian football is stopping,” says Federation boss Luca Pancalli.

Saturday 3 Rafa Benítez is in trouble after referring to Everton as “a small club” during a rant about defensive tactics as the Merseyside derby finishes 0‑0 at Anfield. “It was an art, the way we defended,” sniffs David Moyes. Chelsea beat Charlton 1‑0 at The Valley to close the gap on Man Utd to three points. “We can take a psychological positive out of this,” says Alan Pardew, sounding excited. Wigan beat Portsmouth 1‑0 to end a run of seven straight defeats and go four points clear of 18th-placed West Ham, who lose 1‑0 at Villa, John Carew scoring on his home debut. Watford lose 1‑0 at home to Bolton. “That was a bad game and we contributed to that enormously,” says Aidy Boothroyd, staring at the floor. “This is not the time to get excited,” says Billy Davies as Derby stay six points clear in the Championship after a 1‑0 win at Southampton. Birmingham draw 1‑1 at Colchester and West Brom win 1‑0 at Hull. “I’m still very confident,” says Dennis Wise, as Leeds lose 2‑1 at Norwich to stay bottom. Oldham go top of League One with a 1‑0 win at home to Tranmere. Rotherham are back in bottom spot despite a 0‑0 draw at Brighton, as Brentford win 3‑1 at Blackpool, their first league goals away from home since September. In League Two, Hartlepool go third after a 1‑0 win at second‑placed Swindon. Peter Bore scores a hat‑trick for Grimsby in a 6‑0 victory at Boston, their best away win for 40 years. In the Scottish Cup, First Division St Johnstone win 3‑0 at Falkirk of the SPL and holders Hearts are knocked out 1‑0 by Dunfermline.

Sunday 4 Man Utd maintain their lead at the top of the Premiership with a 4‑0 win at Spurs. The Premier League will investigate why the first goal, a penalty generously awarded for a Ronaldo tumble, was replayed on the stadium screen at half‑time. Celtic’s 4‑1 victory at Livingston in the Scottish Cup sets up a tie with former nemesis Inverness CT: “There will be a score to settle as far as we are concerned,” says Neil Lennon, not just tempting fate but offering it an entire packet of Mr Kipling Bakewell slices. A new England replica shirt is put up for sale on the internet two days before its official launch, creating an unfortunate flurry of free publicity. “Umbro were hopping mad,” lies an insider.

Tuesday 6 US tycoons George Gillett and Tom Hicks, both owners of ice hockey teams, take over Liverpool. “This is the most important club in the most important sport in the world and what a privilege we have to be associated with it,” says Mr Gillett. Everton submit plans for a new stadium connected to a Tesco development in Kirkby, a new town outside Liverpool. Leroy Lita scores a late equaliser as England Under-21s draw 2‑2 with Spain. Wales draw 0-0 with Northern Ireland in Belfast.

Wednesday 7 “I believe in my ability to do the job,” says Steve McClaren. “Boooo!” say England fans after a dismal 1‑0 home defeat to Spain; Ben Foster and Joey Barton both get a first cap. In a Euro 2008 qualifier, the Republic of Ireland defeat San Marino 2‑1 thanks to a 94th-minute winner from Stephen Ireland. “We at least showed tremendous heart, spirit and fight,” says Steve Staunton from his base in a parallel universe. A training-ground match between QPR and China’s Under-23s ends with a Chinese player being hospitalised with a broken jaw; police are investigating. AFC Wimbledon drop to mid‑table in the Ryman Premier after having 18 points deducted for fielding former Cardiff player Jermaine Darlington without international clearance. They have already been thrown out of the FA Trophy for the same offence.

Friday 9 Southend get closer to the pack in the bottom third of the Championship with a 5‑0 home win over QPR. “I don’t see how this week could have got any worse,” groans John Gregory, failing to spot the banana skin directly in front of him. “I can consider myself a Red Devil,” says Javier Mascherano, on being granted permission to play for Liverpool.

Saturday 10 “We need to stay in the melting pot,” says Sir Alex as Man Utd keep their six-point lead with a 2‑0 win at home to Charlton. Chelsea beat Boro 3‑0 in a game that sees Gareth Southgate tangle with José on the touchline. “Strange as it might seem, I do have some passion,” Gareth says. Watford win away for the first time this season, 1‑0 at a doom-laden West Ham. Newcastle beat Liverpool 2‑1 at St James’ Park. Andy Johnson scores the winner in Everton’s 1‑0 win at home to Blackburn. “He actually looks cheap now,” David Moyes says, meaning it in a nice way. Joey Barton could be in trouble as police spot him making “abusive hand gestures” at fans after Man City’s 2‑1 defeat at Portsmouth. Barton had been booked for a horrible challenge on Pedro Mendes. Championship leaders Derby draw 2‑2 at home to Hull, ending a run of eight wins. “Every point becomes a prisoner at this stage,” says Billy Davies. Preston lose 1‑0 at home to Wolves and slip into third behind West Brom, who draw 1‑1 with Southampton. Dennis Wise accuses one of his Leeds players of giving his team line‑up to the opposition before the 2‑1 win at Crystal Palace. Oldham go top of League One with a 1‑0 win at Swansea. “We fear no one,” says manager John Sheridan. Tranmere move into the play‑off spots with a 1‑0 defeat of Doncaster. Darren Anderton scores the first hat‑trick of his career in Bournemouth’s 5‑0 win at home to Orient. “I wouldn’t say it is the same as scoring at a World Cup,” he sniffs. Hartlepool go second in League Two with a 3‑1 win at home to leaders Walsall. Peterborough win for the first time under Darren Ferguson, 3‑0 against his former club Wrexham. Celtic are close to wrapping up the SPL title after a 1‑0 win against Hibs. Terry Butcher leaves Sydney FC by mutual consent. “I don’t regret coming to Sydney for one moment,” he says, from his taxi to the airport.

Sunday 11 Arsenal come from behind to beat Wigan 2‑1 at the Emirates. Paul Jewell isn’t happy with ref Phil Dowd for turning down a penalty appeal against Mathieu Flamini, who then sets up Arsenal’s first goal. Not only that: “He told our players to eff off.” Bolton beat Fulham 2‑1 at the Reebok to stay fifth. Birmingham beat Stoke 1‑0 at home in front of 15,854, their smallest crowd for three seasons. “We’ve gone second and there’s this air of doom and gloom about the place,” complains gloomy Steve Bruce. Rangers close the gap on SPL leaders Celtic to 19 points with a 3‑1 win at Kilmarnock, Kris Boyd scoring a hat‑trick. Saudi Sheikh Mansour Al‑Balawi offers to buy Cristiano Ronaldo and give him to Real Madrid. It’s one way of getting the whole thing over with quickly. Italian league football resumes with four Serie A matches played behind closed doors – most stadiums must remain shut till they can meet safety standards.

Monday 12
Colin Todd is sacked by Bradford, who are three points above the drop zone in League One. The government promises to support an FA bid to host the 2018 World Cup. “It would be fantastic for the whole of the UK,” says Tessa Jowell, who hasn’t been to many England games recently. Harry Redknapp faces an FA charge for his vociferous complaint about the Joey Barton tackle on Saturday (“Anyone who says it was an accident needs their head examining,” he claimed).

Tuesday 13 Middlesbrough squeeze past Bristol City on penalties after a 2‑2 draw in their FA Cup replay; Norwich need extra time, too, before beating Blackpool 3‑2. Milan Mandaric completes his takeover of Leicester and says his aim is promotion within three years: “If we’re not there then this mission will be a failure and that word does not go well with my personality.” Paul Jewell is charged over his comments about Phil Dowd. QPR suspend assistant manager Richard Hill over the Chinese brawl.

Wednesday 14 After conceding a 90th‑minute equaliser, Arsenal go on to win 3‑1 at Bolton in their FA Cup replay. “There were patches of total football in there,” says Arsène, whose side also miss two penalties. In the UEFA Cup, Blackburn are beaten 3‑2 at Leverkusen and Rangers lose 2‑1 to Hapoel Tel‑Aviv.

Thursday 15 Hearts owner Mad Vlad Romanov will be in trouble with the SFA again for saying in a Russian newspaper interview that Celtic and Rangers “buy off players and referees”. Kenny Jackett resigns as Swansea manager, complaining of excessive criticism from fans and local media. Iain Dowie is to take over at Coventry.

Saturday 17 In the FA Cup fifth round, Reading’s second string get a 1‑1 draw at Man Utd, after which Sir Alex declines to back Arsène’s call for Cup replays to be scrapped: “For some clubs it is part of their whole existence.” Arsenal are also held, 0‑0 by Blackburn, whose cautious approach leads to a post-match row, with Cesc Fábregas saying “that wasn’t Barcelona football, was it?” to former Barça player Mark Hughes. Plymouth reach the last eight for the first time since 1984, with a 2‑0 win over Derby. West Brom come back twice to draw 2‑2 at Middlesbrough. “We have had plenty of replays, so the chairman should be happy,” says Gareth Southgate, more in hope than expectation. Watford are through, too, 1‑0 winners against Ipswich, while Chelsea ease past Norwich 4‑0, watched, for the first time in six matches, by Roman Abramovich, who’s rumoured to be bored with his expensive toy. Birmingham go second in the Championship with a 1‑0 win at Crystal Palace, a fixture also known as the Unpleasant Owners’ Invitation Shield. Sunderland’s 4‑0 defeat of Southend takes them into the top six, one place above Cardiff, who survive the dismissal of two players to beat Leeds 1‑0; Dave Jones then rages about referee Mark Clattenburg: “If you are not good enough for the Premiership then you shouldn’t referee in the Championship.” Scunthorpe’s 1‑0 win takes them three points clear in League One; a 1‑0 win over Torquay moves Hartlepool level with League Two leaders Walsall, beaten on Friday by Lincoln.

Sunday 18 Man City’s 3‑1 win at Preston is the closest thing to a surprise result in the Cup. “We were naive and nervous,” sighs Chris Coleman after Fulham crash 4‑0 at home to Spurs. Liverpool deny press reports that Craig Bellamy attacked John Arne Riise with a golf club during a row over karaoke (apparently he refused to sing Robbie Williams’s Angels) at a training camp in Portugal.
Tuesday 20 A late free-kick from Ryan Giggs gives Man Utd a 1‑0 win in Lille; the home side walk off and protest briefly at the kick being taken too quickly. Sir Alex is puce: “I have never seen anything like this. It was a disgrace.” UEFA will investigate the causes of a crush in the away section during which riot police fired tear gas. Arsenal lose 1‑0 at PSV; Celtic draw 0‑0 at home to AC Milan: “Our desire not to get beaten was ten out of ten, but in technical terms, it was five out of ten,” says Gordon Strachan. Scunthorpe double their League One lead to six points with a 2‑0 win at Swansea, which also sets a club record of 12 away games unbeaten; Leyton Orient move out of the bottom four with a 5‑2 win at Millwall. Hartlepool top League Two after a 90th-minute own goal brings a 3‑2 win over Macclesfield; rivals Walsall lose 1‑0 at sixth‑placed Stockport, who have gone eight games without conceding a goal.

Wednesday 21 Craig Bellamy mimes hitting a tee shot after scoring Liverpool’s equaliser at Barcelona in their Champions League tie; John Arne Riise gets the second in a 2‑1 win. Chelsea draw 1‑1 at Porto. Wigan survive the first-half dismissal of Fitz Hall to draw 1‑1 at Watford and move six points clear of the relegation area. A crowd of 18,000 sees the two Bristol clubs draw 0‑0 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy southern-area final first leg. UEFA won’t take action against Rangers over one‑arm salutes made by fans at their UEFA Cup match in Tel‑Aviv; a club spokesman explains that this was the Loyalist “Red Hand of Ulster” gesture. Bolton announce a cut in season-ticket prices for 2007‑08, the first Premiership club to do so. “This has become a serious issue that has reached a crescendo across the country,” says Sam Allardyce. Torquay chairman Chris Roberts resigns after four turbulent months in charge.

Thursday 22 “We have progressed as far as any Blackburn side has and we are proud of that,” says Mark Hughes as his team go out of the UEFA Cup after a 0‑0 home draw with Leverkusen. Newcastle complete a 4‑1 aggregate victory over Zulte Waregem; Rangers are through, too, with a 2‑0 home win against Hapoel Tel‑Aviv. The Man City board inform the Stock Exchange that they are in takeover talks with four groups of investors.

Saturday 24 Man Utd lead the Premiership by nine points after Cristiano Ronaldo’s 87th-minute goal in a 2‑1 win at Fulham, who might have had a penalty in stoppage time for a challenge by Edwin van der Sar on Heidar Helguson: “There’s only one way to put it and that is that the referee lost his nerve,” says Chris Coleman. “It’s the England captain looking at Steve Bennett and saying ‘you’ve got to give a penalty here’,” is how Neil Warnock interprets the first of Liverpool’s two penalties in their 4‑0 defeat of Sheffield Utd. West Ham continue their slide towards the Championship, crashing 4‑0 at Charlton. “It’s been a difficult day,” says Alan Pardew, whose name is chanted by some of the travelling fans, while Alan Curbishley bemoans injuries to key players: “My office has been like a revolving door with all the changes.” Sunderland are three points from a promotion place after knocking Derby off the top of the Championship with a 2‑1 win; West Brom are the new leaders after a 1‑1 draw at Leicester. Scunthorpe’s 3‑1 win over Gillingham gives them a seven-point lead in League One; Yeovil are second after a 1‑0 defeat of Swansea, who are to appoint Roberto Martínez as manager. Swindon’s 1‑0 win over Chester takes them back into the third promotion spot in League Two ahead of Lincoln, who draw at Accrington.

Sunday 25 Didier Drogba scores both goals as Chelsea come from behind to win the Carling Cup 2‑1, after Theo Walcott gives Arsenal’s kids the lead. John Terry is knocked unconscious by a kick in the head, but is back from hospital for the evening celebrations. Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Touré and John Obi Mikel are all sent off after a mass brawl in the last few minutes; both managers run on to “pacify” their players. “I’m just glad to have got the three points,” says Wayne Bridge, proof he was whacked on the head by Emmanuel Eboué. Wigan restore the six-point gap to the bottom three with a 1‑0 win over Newcastle, who miss a penalty at 0-0. Spurs and Blackburn boost their European hopes with home wins over Bolton and Portsmouth respectively. Wrexham remain in 91st place after losing 3‑1 at home to Shrewsbury. Celtic score twice at the death to beat Inverness 2‑1 in their Scottish Cup quarter-final.

From WSC 246 August 2007

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