THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Monday 1 Wimbledon’s owners heed the advice of their players and part company with Egil Olsen. Just in the nick of time? 

Tuesday 2 West Ham face an FA enquiry after angry scenes at Highbury where Emmanuel Petit appears to handle the ball before scoring Arsenal’s injury-time winner. “I’m not one for chasing referees but everything he gave went their way,” says Harry, getting his breath back. John Fashanu wants the Wimbledon job: “I’ve decided to go for it. If you cut me open I would bleed Wimbledon through and through.” And Vinnie Jones follows suit: “Olsen was useless. Give me and Joe Kinnear the job and if we stay up, give us £200,00 each.” A club spokesman is unimpressed: “I wonder if Vinnie intends to donate the fee he got for slagging off the club to charity? Somehow I doubt it.” Jimmy Quinn is sacked by Swindon.

Wednesday 3 Leeds move up to third after a 3-1 win over Watford while Liverpool are beaten 2-0 at home by Leicester. “We are going through a bad phase at just the wrong time,” says Gérard. Marc-Vivien Foé and John Moncur are charged with bringing the game into disrepute following the rumble at Arsenal. Colin Todd is the new Swindon manager.

Friday 5 Hamilton are relegated to the Scottish Third Division after the SFA reject the appeal against their 15-point deduction.X

Saturday 6 A John Hartson equaliser in the last minute gives Wimbledon a point against Villa and lifts them out of the bottom three. The scorer is relieved: “I let the boys down last week when I was too fired up and forgot to play football.” Bradford, beaten 3-0 at Leicester – “We just weren’t at the races,” snaps Paul Jewell – are a point behind with a much worse goal difference. Sheffield Wed, beaten 4-1 at Coventry, could still escape on goal difference but Peter Shreeves knows it’s unlikely: “It was Mount Everest before. Is there a bigger one that that?” Cries of dismay in Blackburn as Burnley join Preston in being promoted from the Second, winning at Scunthorpe while rivals Gillingham are beaten by Wrexham. Chester drop out of the League after losing at home to Peterborough while Shrewsbury win at Exeter. Chester chairman and former manager Terry Smith uncharitably heaps blame on current boss Ian Atkins, claiming: “Twenty-three points from 22 games is disappointing.” Atkins responds: “He wanted to be the big hero. He doesn’t like the fact that the fans took to me.” Swansea postpone civic celebrations to mark the winning of the Third Division championship after a supporter dies during fighting before the match at Rotherham. Deal Town win the FA Vase.

Sunday 7 Man City are up after a 4-1 win at Blackburn, sending Joe Royle into comedy overdrive: “We played like pigs in labour. But some pigs fly.” Bolton grab the fourth play-off spot with a win against Norwich, while Hudders­field lose at Fulham. Walsall, beaten at Ipswich, are down. At an aghast Anfield, Liverpool struggle back into the third Champions League spot, their 0-0 draw with South­ampton being their fourth match in a row without a goal.

Monday 8 Leeds go third again after a bruising 1-1 draw with Everton, who finish with nine men. The nine yellow and three red cards handed out by referee Andy D’Urso are a Premiership record.

Tuesday 9 The FA Premier League Hall of Fame is to close due to lack of public interest, having lost £13 million since its launch. Effect on England’s 2006 World Cup bid: unknown. Businessman Jerry Lim (not his real name, apparently) has concluded a £10.5 million deal to take over Crystal Palace, the club’s administrators having mysteriously rejected a larger bid tabled by Ron Noades and Sam Hammam. Real Madrid reach the Champions League final, narky Nicolas Anelka scoring a crucial away goal in a 3-2 aggregate win over Bayern.

Wednesday 10 Ivano Bonetti, once of Grimsby, is the new manager of Dundee, with brother Dario as his assistant. “Questions have been asked about our experience but some of the criticism has bordered on ridicule,” he says. The brothers were previously in charge of Sestrese, currently in the Italian fifth division. Bryan Robson denies reports that Paul Gascoigne is to go on loan to Joondalup City of the Western Australian state league. “I’ve never even heard of them.This is all nonsense.” In the second Champions League semi Valencia complete a 5-3 aggregate win over Barcelona, whose fans give Mr Van Gaal the white hankie treatment.

Saturday 13 Barnsley book their first visit to Wembley after a 4-0 win at Birmingham in the first leg of their play-off semi final. “We wanted a big, noisy crowd but it had the wrong effect on us,” sighs Trevor. Gillingham snatch a goal in the fifth minute of injury time in a 3-2 defeat at Stoke, Millwall and Wigan share a goalless draw at the New Den. Barry Fry has a happy return to Barnet, where Peterborough win 2-1, Darlington take a two-goal lead from their lively local derby at Hartlepool, where manager David Hodgson is hit by a coin and Marco Gabbiadini gets punched by a home fan en route to the dressing rooms. Robbie Fowler is left out of Liverpool’s squad for their trip to Bradford after a training ground spat with Monsieur Gérard.

Sunday 14 Bradford stay up with a 1-0 win over Liverpool – “We’ve got our just rewards,” beams Paul Jewell – while Wimbledon go down 2-0 at Southampton. “We will mourn for 24 hours then rebuild,” says Terry Burton. Bobby Gould joins the queue of former Wimbledon favourites sticking the knife in: “You have to question the moral fibre of certain individuals. They started to wave the white flag as soon as the first goal went in.” Leeds clinch the third Champions League spot with a goalless draw at West Ham. David O’Leary comes over all nautical: “The engine failed three quarters of the way across the ocean but we still limped into port.” Ipswich’s 2-2 draw at Bolton gives them the upper hand in their First Division play-off tie.

Tuesday 16 Nick Barmby and David James are the surprise inclusions in England’s squad of 28 for three upcoming friendlies. Robbie Fowler is also called up, despite having started only one match this year. “I will get hammered whichever striker I leave out but it’s part of the job,” says Kev, who is expected to drop Andy Cole if Fowler proves his fitness. Spurs sign Dynamo Kiev striker Sergei Rebrov for £11 million. An Arsenal fan is stabbed in fighting between rival fans gathered for the UEFA Cup final in Copenhagen.

Wednesday 17 Galatasaray win the UEFA Cup, beating Arsenal 4-1 on penalties after a goalless draw. Arsène claims that the referee failed to toss a coin before deciding that the shoot-out should take place at the Galatasaray end. “I’m not saying it is why we lost but it is a black area in the rules.” English and Turkish fans are hospitalised with stab wounds during widespread street riots before the match. “We never expected this,” said a Danish police spokesman. “Clearly any such event is unhelpful for the World Cup bid,” says the FA’s David Davies. In London, six people are arrested after mobs attack Turkish businesses around Highbury. UEFA reject calls made by some British MEPs for the England v Germany game to be switched from Charleroi to Brussels. High drama in the First Division play-off at Portman Road, where Ipswich get a last-minute equaliser, then score another two in extra time for a 5-3 win over Bolton, who have two players sent off and concede three penalties, one of them missed. Their manager Sam Allardyce is beside himself: “The referee was disgusting. He should never be allowed to take charge of another match again.” Stoke also have two dismissed in a 3-0 defeat at Gillingham, who will now play Wigan, 1-0 winners against Millwall in a match that is followed by violent clashes between fans and police. Home wins for Darlington and Peterborough mean they will meet in the Third Division final.

Thursday 18 UEFA criticise media reporting of the riots in Denmark: “Some reporters had seemingly come to Copenhagen to report on disturbances and they exaggerated the violence,” says chief executive Gerhard Aigner. A spokesman for the National Criminal Intelligence Unit, meanwhile, makes the useful observation that “if there is trouble at Euro 2000, English fans are guaranteed to be a part of it”. Barnsley reach the First Division play-off final with a 5-2 aggregate win over Birmingham City.

Friday 19 Arsenal are reportedly to spend £7 million on Cameroon midfielder Lauren Etame-Mayer from Real Mallorca. French striker Robert Pires also hopes to head for Highbury after Euro 2000, saying: “When you have played in the Champions League you want to play in it every year.” He could always join Rosenborg. “Friends of the press, I’m off. Goodbye,” says the admirably terse Louis van Gaal on resigning as Barcelona coach.

Saturday 20 For the last time a fine old English tradition is upheld at Wembley with an exceedingly dull FA Cup final. Roberto Di Matteo’s goal 15 minutes from time spares us any extra pain. David James holds himself responsible having failed to collect the cross leading to the goal: “I’ve owned up to the error. It’s the first time I’ve cried in 15 years.” In a moment of almost chilling mawkishness, Dennis Wise takes his baby son with him to collect the trophy. Everyone talks about how winning the cup guarantees a place in Europe. Even Didier Deschamps looks pleased (possibly because he knows he’s leaving). The interminable Scottish Premier League season finally grinds to a halt with Hearts clinching the final UEFA Cup place.

Monday 22 Jason Wilcox withdraws his left foot from the England squad due to injury. He’s replaced, in a way, by the equally sinistral Gareth Barry. Kev is disappointed: “Of all the places to lose someone, the left side would be my least favourite option,” but still feisty: “I wouldn’t say that we were imbalanced. Portugal have only one left footer, although he is pretty good”.

Tuesday 23 Martin O’Neill hints that he might consider the Celtic job: “They are one of the biggest clubs in Europe and would interest most managers.” “This is all news to me,” says Leicester chairman John Elsom. After visiting Charleroi’s stadium a group of Belgian MPs joins the call for England’s match with Germany to be switched to Brussels, their concern apparently focusing on the steeply banked stands. “Sometimes you just have to applaud the opposition,” says Mark Hughes after Wales hold Brazil for an hour before going down 3-0.

Wednesday 24 Steve McManaman scores in Real Madrid’s 3-0 win over Valencia in the Champions League final. With his right foot. Joe Kinnear declines to become the new manager of Sheffield Wednesday, for now at least, having asked for more time to think over the move. It is thought that he is waiting to see if a vacancy comes up at Leicester. Hull City staff are locked out of Boothferry Park by the stadium’s owner, former chairman David Lloyd, who claims that the club owes him more than £100,000.

Friday 26 Peterborough beat Darlington 1-0 in the Third Division play-off final. Barry Fry declines to be upbeat: “We haven’t a cat in hell’s chance of staying up.” Rangers win the Scottish Cup with a 4-0 win over Aberdeen, who have to put an outfield player in goal after a first-minute injury to Jim Leighton. The Home Office rejects an appeal from the FA for emergency legislation to be brought in to prevent those “known hooligans” from travelling to Euro 2000. Bradford City are to play in this year’s Intertoto Cup. They were the only one of the English applicants prepared to enter at the second round stage where they will meet opponents from either Lithuania or... Turkey. Oh dear.

Saturday 27 England 1 Brazil 1. Michael Owen scores the opener at Wembley, dire defending gifts the visitors an equaliser just before half-time. “Don’t forget, if there was a World Cup tomorrow, this Brazil team would be favourites,” advises Kev. In Slovakia, England lose their first match in the European Under-21 championships, 2-0 to Italy.

Sunday 28 Gillingham are promoted to the First, scoring twice in the last seven minutes of extra time for a 3-2 win over Wigan, who had what appeared to be a good goal disallowed in normal time. Neil Sullivan leaves Wimbledon for Tottenham. “We have managed to convince Neil that this club wants to compete with the top teams in Europe,” says David Pleat. An extraordinary feat, you’ll agree.

Monday 29 Ipswich are promoted to the Premiership after a 4-2 play-off win over Barnsley. Richard Wright is the hero with two vital saves, one from a penalty with the score at 1-1. “Nobody can say we don’t deserve it after all we’ve been through in the past few years,” says George Burley, who had seen his team fail at the semi-final stage three years running.
   
Wednesday 31 “Tonight was more of a Kevin Keegan side,” says the England manager after a 2-0 win over Ukraine. The returning Robbie Fowler gets the first, though both goals are down to bad goalkeeping mistakes. Andy Cole is the highest profile player omitted from the Euro 2000 squad. A foot injury is the official reason, though Cole decides to deny rumours of a row: “There have been insinuations that I walked out on England. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Sales of short-sleeved goalkeeping shirts are set to boom as Fabien Barthez joins Man Utd from Monaco for £7.8 million. Joe Kinnear rejects the Sheffield Wed job saying: “The ideas the club had were not mine. It had to do with finances.”

From WSC 161 July 2000. What was happening this month

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