THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Tuesday 3 Le Tournoi begins with a 1-1 draw between France and Brazil, whose goal comes from a 35-yard swerving free kick by Roberto Carlos, the sort that used to win cup finals in boys' annuals while the crowd shouted, "Lummee!" and "What's the youngster playing at?" Teddy Sheringham asks Spurs for a transfer, saying, as you do, "I am looking for a new challenge at this stage in my career." Iran break a World Cup goalscoring record, beating the Maldives 17-0 in a first round qualifier. So, Teddy, coach to the Maldives?

Wednesday 4
England beat Italy 2-0 with goals from Ian Wright and Paul Scholes (Ginger Rogers 'Em says the Sun, desperately). "It was an end of season performance by us," snarls Cesare Maldini, suddenly sounding like a man stuck at the wrong end of Division Two. "It'll be different in Rome - there'll be 80,000 screaming Italians for a start," observes Glenn. And if England lose, they could go into a playoff with, say, Croatia or Yugoslavia... we may yet see Jimmy Hill in a tartan tie next summer.

Saturday 7 England get their first win in France for nearly fifty years, courtesy of an Alan Shearer tap-in following a fumble by French keeper Barthez. "If you have the right temperament in this game you get called boring, but the thing about Alan is whatever praise he gets, it's on with the next game," says Glenn. Alan's post match interviews reaffirm that bit about the 'right temperament'.

Sunday 8 Scotland are three quarters of the way towards World Cup qualification after a Gary McAllister penalty brings a 1-0 victory in Belarus. "The players' legs had gone, their minds were numb but their hearts were huge," trills Craig Brown. The FIFA drugs testers are on their way. A 3-3 draw between Brazil and Italy means that England will win Le Tournoi whatever happens in their last match with Brazil. Nigeria and Morocco become the first countries to qualify for the World Cup Finals. Everton supporters' groups threaten a season-ticket boycott if the club pursue their interest in former Liverpool striker John Toshack as their new manager.

Tuesday 10 England lose their final match of Le Tournoi 1-0 to Brazil, the goal from Romario in the second half. "We've lost to Brazil but proved we can live with them," says Glenn, waving from Romario's veranda. Two Norwegian businessmen, owners of a first division club, Molde, have bought an 80% stake in Wimbledon in a deal which will release up to £10 million to be spent on the team. Current chairman Sam Hammam, who will remain in charge of the football side of the business, says, "We have already introduced them to some of the Crazy Gang ways. Nothing will change there." Is mooning big in Norway?

Wednesday 11
Man Utd fail to sign Brian Laudrup, who decides to stay with Rangers for another year, and they've also been turned down by Bayern Munich defender Markus Babbel, who is apparently holding out for £1.4m a year in wages. He must have an expensive habit, er, hobby. Chelsea add to their stable of moderate goalkeepers by signing Dutch international Ed De Goey from Feyenoord. Everton's new shortlist apparently now consists of Arrigo Sacchi, likely to be chased out of Milan after their worst season in years, and Sky's video operator extraordinaire, Andy Gray. The Australian FA clears Terry Venables of allegations of wrongdoing after Portsmouth (owner, T Venables) sign three members of the Australian national squad. Venables' contract forbids him to take part in the sale of national team players. So, absolutely no funny business there. France and Italy share bottom place in Le Tournoi after a 2-2 draw, the Italians salvaging a point with a last-minute penalty.

Friday 13 Middlesbrough drop their appeal against the three point deduction but chairman Steve Gibson still wants an independent inquiry: "The attempts of my club to receive a balanced and fair hearing have been met with a mixture of arrogance, complacency, incompetence..." And etc, all in a ten page letter to the Premier League. Steve, love, we know you're hurting, but it's time for us all to move on.

Sunday 15 Paul Ince finally seems to have decided to return to the UK because his family can't settle in Italy, with Liverpool the likely destination. Everton, meanwhile, seem suddenly keen on teaming Andy Gray as manager, with Howard Kendall, the man who's made more comebacks than Dusty Springfield, as director of football. Peter Johnson, you might think, couldn't be doing a worse job of undermining Everton if he'd been a lifelong Liverpool fan who'd bought... ah.

Tuesday 17 French defender Bernard Lambourde becomes the thirteenth foreign player on Chelsea's books. Arsenal now have twelve after the arrival of Ajax's Marc Overmars (who says, "I like England because there is more space,") plus Portuguese full back Luis Boamorte and a German midfielder of Spanish background (come on, keep up) Alberto Mendez-Rodriguez. Arsène says, "The best players between 21 and 28 in this country are at Manchester United and Liverpool. We had no choice but to go abroad." Tomas Brolin, the lost boy, returns to Leeds after a loan spell at Parma with double chin intact; Juninho confirms that he won't be playing in England next season, with Atletico Madrid now firm favourites to sign him. Recently quoted as saying that West Ham's season was "ruined because we bought a lot of southern European superstars who almost all disappointed", Danish defender Marc Rieper is about to leave for... Napoli. After failing to agree terms with would-be landlords Gillingham, Brighton will be groundsharing with cash-strapped Millwall instead.

Wednesday 18 Southampton want champion pouter David Platt to be their new manager, with Lawrie McMenemy, off in a huff a month ago, possibly coming back as director of football. Andy Gray doesn't want to work with Howard Kendall at Everton, who may have to choose between the two. (Could you?) Bobby Robson confirms that he will be leaving Barcelona at the end of the month: Celtic, who recently advertised for a general manager in the broadsheet press, are favourites to get him, and what a catch he'll be. England beat Ivory Coast 2-1 in the World Youth Cup in Malaysia; the Republic of Ireland lose by the same score to Ghana.

Friday 20
Ronaldo joins Inter for a world-record fee of £18 million. Barcelona are attempting to block the deal, however, claiming that the fee would only be applicable according to the terms of his contract if he was moving between Spanish clubs. They want £39 million instead. No wonder Bobby Robson wants to stick around as long as he can - he now denies previous reports that he is preparing to quit. A consortium headed by tennis coach David Lloyd wants to buy bankrupt Hull City and merge them with the rugby club Hull (ahem) Sharks, with both teams to be housed in yet another super-stadium. Crewe's Danny Murphy gets a hat trick as England beat the United Arab Emirates 5-0 in the World Youth Cup, while the Republic of Ireland beat the US 2-1.

Sunday 22 Celtic's new general manager is TV commentator and lawyer Jock Brown, brother of Craig the Scotland manager. "As of now I am Celtic's number one fan," he says, referring to rumoured sympathies for Rangers that had led some Celtic fans to threaten a season ticket boycott if he was appointed (it's becoming a fashion). Failed Tory leadership contender Kenneth Clarke has been offered a job as chairman of Nottingham Forest plc, the holding company that will oversee the club's stock market flotation. Just an "advisory" role, though, so the annual salary's a modest £100,000. England and Ireland are through to the knockout stage of the World Youth Cup after a win over Mexico and a draw with China respectively. During the latter match Ireland keeper Derek O'Connor is dismissed for time-wasting after "doing an Irish jig" while waiting to take a goal kick.

Monday 23 Andy Gray turns down the Everton manager's job, saying, "To have taken the job and then let the fans down would have been too much to bear. Sky also held a unique place in my heart." Sky also held an improved contract in front of him. "I'm aghast that a man has behaved like this," says Peter Johnson, slumped over a crate of Andy Gray merchandise. David Jones leaves Stockport to become the new manager of Southampton. "The time is right for us to set our sights on our rightful place towards the top of the Premiership," says chairman Rupert Lowe. Rupert's new to football.

Tuesday 24 Breakaway ahoy! Again! Sixteen clubs in the First and Second Divisions who are said to be considering the formation of a new division, to be called the Phoenix League (imagine the logo). It is intended to be a stepping stone between the Football League and the Premiership with two promoted each year and only one down to the rump. A Football League spokesman, however, says that the idea "has as much credibility as a clotheshorse in the Grand National". Howard Kendall is the new Everton manager. He's been there before hasn't he? "I feel as though I have been kicked in the teeth," says Sheffield Utd chairman Mike McDonald. Everton fans may sympathize. A win over Morocco means that the Republic of Ireland are through to the World Youth Cup Quarter-Finals, as are Brazil, who score ten for the second consecutive match, Belgium their latest victims. FIFA seem set to back Barcelona's claim that Ronaldo's move to Inter contravenes international transfer regulations: he could end up at Ibrox yet (when he's 35, heh heh). Former Danish international Jan Sorensen becomes the fourth foreign manager with an English club after taking over at Walsall.

Wednesday 25 The David Lloyd consortium complete their takeover of Hull City and appear to want Peter Beardsley as manager. "It hurts me to say this but there are some bad people in Hull," says controversial departing chairman Martin Fish, presumably excepting himself. Brighton may be thrown out of the League after failing to meet the deadline for paying a £500,000 bond required to guarantee that they will fulfil their fixtures. "We feel they should be expelled," say Peter Hill, chairman of... Hereford Utd. England lose 2-1 to Argentina in the last sixteen of the World Youth Cup. A lively evening in Bolivia, where the home team reach the final of the Copa America after a 3-1 win over Mexico. Bolivia's first goal is followed by a ten minute stoppage as their opponents, two of whom are subsequently sent off, protest that the ball didn't cross the line.

Thursday 26 The Premiership are reported to be pressing for two-up, two-down with the Football League. "There is no way we would even enter in talks aimed at reducing the number of promotion and relegation places," says a League spokesman. "It would suit some clubs to make it more difficult for others to get i says Man City's Francis Lee, "That way you make the top flight an ®¶litist band." Frannie's club are among those said to be backing the Phoenix League, but that must have slipped his mind for the mo. Brazil, fast becoming to football what Australia are to rugby league, beat Peru 7-0 in the second semi-final of the Copa America.

Saturday 28 "This has come as a lovely shock," says Teddy Sheringham on signing for Man Utd for £3.5 million, roughly half the original asking price. "It is very important that we only keep players who want to play for this club," says Gerry Francis, heading for a squad of about five. Swindon Town's shirts have been redesigned because players claimed the collars were choking them: "The tight collars led to frustration that the players could not breathe and subsequently to loss of form and confidence," says a club spokesman. The new shirts look "stunning" apparently, so stick a tenner on Swindon for a promotion and cup double.

Sunday 29 Middlesbrough have accepted Spurs' bid of £11m for Juninho. Now all Gerry Francis has to do is actually talk to the player - it's a cinch, Ger. Everton are to bid for Fabrizio Ravanelli but Liverpool's interest has cooled because Boro are asking for £9m. Brazil win the Copa America beating the hosts Bolivia 3-1. The Rep of Ireland are now through to the semis of the World Youth Cup after a 1-0 over Spain, and will now play Argentina.

Monday 30
Home Secretary Jack Straw announces an independent review into the Hillsborough disaster. Presiding judge Lord Stuart-Smith says: "I will examine evidence which it is said was not previously available at Lord Taylor's inquiry." Bobby Robson decides to stay on at Barcelona where he will play some sort of general manager role out of harm's way. Not how he sees it, of course: "I have set the bar for the man who takes over. He will have a job bettering what I have done." Bobby, you feel, needs to get out more. Reading's new manager is Terry Bullivant, lately of Barnet, whom chairman John Madjeski sees as the man to spearhead a "European coaching approach". Go to it, Terry.

From WSC 126 August 1997. What was happening this month

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