THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Wednesday 1 "I have apologized to the England players and I want every England supporter to know how sorry I am," says David Beckham as the England squad return from France. "There is an empty feeling inside," says Glenn, "but I have had an encouraging call from the prime minister." Ex-Rangers boss Walter Smith changes his mind about joining Sheffield Wednesday in order to become the new Everton manager, their fourth in four seasons. "I am under no illusions about the size of the task," he says, which is handy. Ron Noades makes himself manager of Brentford, saying: "I can spend and do what I like and I am very excited," words that may come back to haunt him by, ooh, the end of September. John Hollins takes over at Swansea. Bolton allegedly beat off Paris St Germain to sign Jamaica's teenage winger Ricardo Gardner for £1 million.

Thursday 2 Steve Bruce becomes player-manager of Sheffield United. Caretaker boss Steve Thompson stays on as assistant, with Wigan manager John Deehan coming in as coach. Got that? 

Monday 6 Danny Wilson leaves Barnsley to take over at Hillsborough. He'll be replaced by John Hendrie. "I told Wednesday to go away, but I was honour bound to tell Danny of their approach," says miffed Barnsley chairman John Dennis. Man Utd will face either LKS Lodz of Poland or Azerbaijan's  Kapaz in the second qualifying round for the Champions League. Celtic will play Croatia Zagreb if they get past St Patrick's Athletic. Cup winners Hearts meet Estonia's Lantana. In the UEFA Cup, Rangers also go to Dublin to take on Shelbourne, while Kilmarnock play Zeljeznicar from the newly recognized Bosnian league.

Wednesday 8 Arsenal press on with attempts to buy Ronald de Boer, who says, "It's a superb Premiership and I want to be there," and seem to be involved in a bidding war with Spurs to sign Patrick Kluivert. Howard Kendall is rumoured to be on the shortlist for the job of US national coach, but he won't be asking for a reference from Peter Johnson, who launches an attack on his ex-manager, saying: "It is a terrible indictment of the whole club that we went backwards last season."

Friday 10 Sepp Blatter's moaning again, this time about FIFA's disciplinary committee refusing to study video evidence of fouls, including Denis Bergkamp's stamp on a Yugoslav opponent during Holland's second round match. "I want to have a word with them," he says, "And it will be a strong word." UEFA fiddle with the format of the Champions League again. From 1999-2000 it will consist of four groups of six teams, with the top two in each section going through to the knockout stage. How much easier it would be to fit in those extra games if the burdensome domestic leagues weren't clogging up the fixtures. All in good time. The "new" Scottish Premier League is to take a three week break in January because,  as a  spokesman points out: "The weather is often cold at that time of year."

Sunday 12 Two final career moves for old warhorses: Chelsea's Mark Hughes is off to Southampton for £650,000, while Ian Wright is poised to go to West Ham.

Wednesday 15 Rangers' UEFA tie against Shelbourne will be moved from Dublin following a row about ticket distribution. The FA of Ireland had requested that Rangers be given only 500 tickets amid fears that the game might become a focal point for sectarian violence. In a busy day, Rangers have found time to break the Scottish transfer record, signing Andrei Kanchelskis from Fiorentina for £5.5 million. Marco Tramezzani is the latest uncapped Italian defender to arrive in England, joining Spurs from Perugia for £3.5 million.

Thursday 16 Gerard Houllier rejects the Celtic job in favour of joining Liverpool as °Æco-manager'. "I don't see Gerard's appointment as a demotion for me," says Uncle Roy, smiling bravely. "There might be some difficulties but we will work them out," says Gerard. Man Utd are alleged to have offered Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham or Ole Solskjaer to Aston Villa in part exchange for Dwight Yorke but John Gregory rules out any deal, saying, "I don't want any Old Trafford cast-offs."

Friday 17 Jozef Venglos, once of Aston Villa and more recently a coaching advisor to FIFA, is the surprise choice as new Celtic boss. News of his arrival is marked by a group of 200 fans gathering outside the club's offices to call for the removal of general manager Jock Brown.

Sunday 19 Crystal Palace's European debut in the Intertoto ends in a 2-0 home defeat by Samsunspor of Turkey. The kick off had to be delayed because the club hadn't expected 11,000 people to turn up. "It's been on record that we weren't particularly keen on entering this competition," says assistant manager Terry Fenwick. Man Utd deny reports that they have met with representatives from 15 other clubs to discuss the formation of a new European league. "We're getting a little fed up with being linked with a super league," says Utd official Ken Ramsden. But they'd be more than cross if no one invited them.

Monday 20 Arsenal receive UEFA approval for playing their Champions League matches at Wembley, where their games could be watched by up to 70,000, twice Highbury's current capacity. Cameroon international Marc-Vivien Foe's transfer to Man Utd is put on hold after he fails a medical.

Tuesday 21 Liverpool appear to have failed in a bid to sign Jose-Luis Chilvaert, their bid of £2 million having been turned down by his club. Chilavert has apparently gone on strike in protest. No doubt Brad and David will be a bit upset too. Swedish winger Jesper Blomqvist is to join Man Utd from Parma for £5 million. A national football museum, backed by the Premier League and due to open in London next Spring, will include a players' "Hall of Fame" nominated by a supporters' ballot. Cesare Maldini resigns as Italy's national coach and will be replaced by Dino Zoff (Big Ron is out of their price range).

Wednesday 22 A nervous night in Europe for Celtic, whose Champions League debut ends in a goalless home draw with St Patrick's Athletic, and nearly a calamitous one for Rangers, who come back from three down to beat Shelbourne 5-3 at neutral Tranmere. Also in the UEFA Cup, Kilmarnock do better with a 1-1 draw away to Zeljeznicar, while Newtown from the League of Wales get a goalless draw with Wisla Krakow of Poland. The South Korean FA suggest to FIFA that the 2002 World Cup be moved to September to avoid the country's rainy season, a move that is interpreted as a step towards shifting the entire tournament to Japan. Last week several Korean cities were dropped from the list of potential venues because they were unable to meet building costs. Any moment now the English FA will be on the blower to FIFA HQ offering to step in. The Sun claims that Julian Dicks, about to return from injury, is considering a career as a professional golfer after retirement. "I always thought golf was a poof's game. Now I like it more than football," he reflects.

Friday 24 Disgraced duo Freddie Fletcher and Douglas Hall return to the Newcastle Utd board. "I am looking forward to some exciting times ahead," says Fletcher. "The overwhelming opinion is that they shouldn't be back," says John Regan of the Newcastle independent supporters group. Responding to the news that a group of clubs are discussing the formation of an independent super league, UEFA announce that they will tell them all to piss off. Ha, no, actually they say they are prepared to enlarge their three European club competitions in order to keep the clubs happy. So, that's European football, run by a great big quivering jelly. Meanwhile, on a different planet, insurance firm AXA have taken over from Littlewoods as sponsors of the FA Cup.

Sunday 26 Crystal Palace become the first English club to be knocked out of Europe in July after a second 2-0 defeat to Samsunspor in the Inter Toto Cup. The Republic of Ireland win the European Under 18 championship on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Germany. With the De Boers twins taking Ajax to court to break their contract, Ars®®ne Wenger says he will not pursue his interest in Ronald (the midfielder): "If the tribunal allows him to break his contract, it's the beginning of the end. If the fans think all the players are interested in is the money they will lose heart and the clubs will lose identity."

Wednesday 29 Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool are asked by the Premier League to confirm that they are not intending to join a European league. According to newspaper reports, a 32 team midweek league, backed by Silvio Berlusconi's media group and an American bank, has been planned to start in 2000. FIFA spokesman Keith Cooper responds by saying: "If a league were set up in defiance of UEFA it would lead to the suspension of the clubs concerned and their players." John Collins becomes the first player ever to leave Monaco for Everton, for whom he signs for £2.5 million. Newcastle spend £8 million on Dietmar Hamann from Bayern Munich and a Peruvian defender Nolberto Solano. Rangers refuse to meet Blackburn's asking price of £5 million for Colin Hendry. In Europe, the three Scottish clubs march on to the next preliminary round. Newtown, however, crash 7-0 in Poland. Mario Zagallo is dismissed as Brazilian national team coach (so if Celtic had only waited a week...)

Friday 31 David Unsworth leaves Aston Villa less than week after signing for them from West Ham to join his original club Everton. He denies a press report that his wife refused to move to Birmingham, but John Gregory doesn't believe it: "Apparently his dinner would have been thrown in the bin if he didn't make it home by 1pm." 

From WSC 139 September 1998. What was happening this month

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