Tuesday 1 Drama to the last in Sheffield United’s FA Cup fifth-round replay with Arsenal, settled by Manuel Almunia making two saves in a shoot-out after a 0‑0 draw. “An average Premiership side would have lost but Sheffield were electric for 120 minutes,” say Arsène. Brentford take a fourth-minute lead against Southampton, but lose 3‑1. Blackburn beat Burnley 2‑1 with a late goal from Morten Gamst Pedersen. Roy Keane is cleared of charges of assault over an incident near his home last year. Jermaine Pennant, however, is jailed for three months for drunk-driving while banned. “We will give him all the help and support he needs to turn his life around,” says Birmingham chief executive Karren Brady – paying him £3,000 a week might seem like help enough.
Wednesday 2 Spurs amble into the last eight of the Cup with a 3‑0 replay win at Forest. Wolves get their tenth draw in 15 games under Glenn Hoddle, 3‑3 at Derby, where they take the lead in injury time only to concede a 92nd-minute equaliser. David Prutton accepts getting a ten-match ban for shoving referee Alan Wiley in the recent match against Arsenal: “I portrayed an image of myself that is not me.” There’s uproar at Tynecastle, where Rangers get a controversial last-minute penalty for a 2‑1 win. Ronnie Moore is the new manager of Oldham. Man Utd fans are banned from wearing Eric Cantona masks for the forthcoming match at Palace, when they will mark January’s tenth anniversary of the kung-fu incident.
Thursday 3 Eager to allow England a four-week break if they qualify for the World Cup, the FA announce that clubs still in Europe won’t have to play FA Cup fifth- and sixth-round replays next season. Neil Warnock says he will lead a protest campaign against the “disgraceful” idea. Cardiff, £30 million in debt, may have to sell several players to avoid entering administration. Former Ajax and Holland coach Rinus Michels dies aged 77.
Friday 4 Sunderland lead the Championship after a 2‑0 win at Burnley, who have debutant Ade Akinbiyi sent off less than three minutes after coming on. Hearts demand an SFA inquiry into Rangers’ penalty winner on Wednesday, which was awarded on the advice of a linesman. The SFA may in turn put the club on a disrepute charge for implying that an official was biased. Chester chairman Stephen Vaughan claims to have offered Ian Rush a pay-off to leave – the club are fourth bottom in League Two and haven’t scored in eight of their past ten games. Paul Hart parts company with Barnsley. The Greater Manchester force threaten to close Wigan’s stadium over an unpaid policing bill of £300,000.
Saturday 5 Chelsea’s lead is up to eight points after they win 3‑1 at Norwich while Man Utd draw 0‑0 with Palace, despite the latter having only ten men for the last half-hour. Arsenal are two points behind in third, Thierry Henry scoring all the goals in a 3‑0 victory over Portsmouth. With Nigel Quashie’s goal beating Spurs, Southampton are two points behind fourth-bottom Palace (Harry Redknapp: “I must be a sad person because the best feeling in the world is when you are hanging on by one goal and the ref blows the whistle”). Newcastle’s 1‑0 win over Liverpool is Graeme Souness’s first victory over his old club, at the 13th attempt. Nathan Ellington’s penalty beats Ipswich to take Wigan back to the top of the Championship. At West Ham, police break up a half-time tunnel brawl sparked by cuddly Tomas Repka’s first-half dismissal; visitors Preston win 2‑1 to stay fifth. Reading’s 0‑0 draw at QPR is their 11th game without a win but it’s enough to take them back into the top six. In League One, ex-Real Sociedad striker Juan Ugarte scores a club-record five goals in Wrexham’s 6‑4 win at Hartlepool, taking his total to 15 in the past ten games, all but one away. League top scorer Phil Jevons’ 25th of the season, a tenth penalty, secures leaders Yeovil’s win over Leyton Orient. Gretna’s 1‑0 victory at Cowdenbeath in Scottish Division Three makes them the first club to be promoted this season.
Sunday 6 Everton miss a chance to extend their lead over Liverpool to 11 points by losing to Jon Stead’s first goal in ten months for Blackburn, who consequently move seven points clear of the bottom three. Dennis Wise squares up to some barracking Millwall fans after the team’s 1‑1 home draw with Leeds, whom he has been tipped to join: “What are they going to do? Punch me? It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve had a whack.”
Tuesday 8 Chelsea knock Barcelona out of the Champions League after a dramatic 4‑2 win secured by John Terry’s headed goal 15 minutes from time. Barcelona claim their keeper was fouled in the build-up and there are post-match scuffles, during which Samuel Eto’o is allegedly racially abused by a steward. José is exultant: “We have beaten the best team in the world at the moment, according to some.” Man Utd are out, losing to another Hernán Crespo goal in Milan. Sir Alex tries to look on the bright side: “We have played a part in two fantastic games and I don’t think there is a lot between us.” In the Championship, Forest’s 2‑0 win at Watford, their sixth game unbeaten, puts them three points from a safe spot. Wigan strike a deal to keep the JJB open but may still take the GMP to court. Wrexham see off Oldham to reach the LDV Vans Trophy final, while Southend beat Bristol Rovers.
Wednesday 9 A 1‑0 win over Bayern is not enough for Arsenal, who go out of the Champions League 3‑2. Arsène’s glass is half full and, yet, half empty: “The situation could be worse, although it could be better too, that’s true.” “Nobody should underestimate us,” says Rafa after Liverpool win 3‑1 in Leverkusen.
Thursday 10 Kevin Keegan finally resigns at Man City, prompted by a row with the board over proposed signings. “I’m manager now and that is where I aim to be next season,” says Stuart Pearce, eyes peeled for Gordon Strachan. Newcastle look certs for the last eight in the UEFA Cup after winning 3‑1 at Olympiakos, who have two players sent off in the first half. Middlesbrough, however, lose 3‑2 at home to Sporting Lisbon. Chelsea and Blackburn are fined over their punch-up in February and José will have to fork out for his anti-ref whinge after the Carling Cup semi‑final first leg against Man Utd.
Friday 11 Swedish referee Anders Frisk, who took charge of Barcelona’s home game with Chelsea, is to retire after receiving death threats. UEFA head of refereeing Volker Roth blames “inflammatory” comments made about Frisk by a certain manager: “People like Mourinho are the enemy of football.”
Saturday 12 In the FA Cup Arsenal win 1‑0 at Bolton, where El-Hadji Diouf is sent off in the first half for striking Jens Lehmann, to the despair, again, of his manager: “They were there for the taking. But to do that we needed 11 men.” “I see this as the start of a long road to European success,” says Sir Alex after Man Utd’s 4‑0 win at Southampton. After three successive defeats Ipswich thrash Forest 6‑0, but stay third in the Championship as Wigan and Sunderland also win. The top four in League One all win; Bournemouth go fifth after a 2‑1 win at Walsall, who scored in seven seconds. Macclesfield’s seventh win in eight takes them into the top three in League Two. With second-bottom Kidderminster winning at Notts County, Rushden get what could prove a vital last-minute goal to beat Northampton 3‑2 and stay four points clear of the relegation area.
Sunday 13 Newcastle reach the last four of the FA Cup after another early goal by Patrick Kluivert sees off Spurs. Blackburn are there, too, after a Paul Dickov penalty beats Leicester. Alan Smith is advised by police not to return to Elland Road to play in Lucas Radebe’s testimonial.
Monday 14 Ashley Cole admits to meeting José Mourinho in a London hotel. He had gone there to talk to an agent about a move abroad when the Chelsea manager appeared, possibly through a trap door, and said: “You are the best left-back in the world and we want you.” Robbie Savage retires from international football after a call from John Toshack to say he was dropped: “It takes a brave man to tell you that by phone from over 200 miles away.”
Tuesday 15 A 1‑0 win over West Brom takes Chelsea 11 points clear. José, meanwhile, threatens to sue Volker Roth: “There’s two ways out: he apologises or it goes to court.” The top three in the Championship all win again and third bottom Gillingham’s 2‑1 win over Stoke brings them level on points with Coventry and Cardiff.
Wednesday 16 Newcastle saunter into the last eight of the UEFA Cup with a 4‑0 home win over Olympiakos – Alan Shearer’s two goals take him to within nine of Jackie Milburn’s club record. “We’re aware that people think the lights go out at Charlton when we reach 40 points,” says a cautious Alan Curbishley after his side’s 2‑0 defeat of Spurs takes them up to seventh, a point behind Liverpool, who draw 0‑0 with Blackburn. Forest squander a chance to close in on the teeming throng above them by missing a penalty in a goalless draw with Leeds.
Thursday 17 Middlesbrough are out of Europe after a 1‑0 defeat in Lisbon. “I don’t think we ever expected to get this far,” says Steve McClaren, which might surprise his chairman, Steve Gibson. UEFA deny that they are blaming José for Anders Frisk’s retirement but, as their press chief William Gaillard puts it: “Some statements from players and managers are misconstrued by the public at large, who are not mentally stable.”
Friday 18 Liverpool will play Juventus in a Champions League quarter-final, the winners of which will then play Chelsea or Bayern in the semis. Newcastle are at home to Sporting Lisbon in the UEFA Cup.
Saturday 19 A 4‑1 win over Palace maintains Chelsea’s 11-point lead. Joe Cole, scorer of their third, is already pushing for space on the open-top bus: “I’m just so excited. I can’t stop looking at the fixture list.” “You can’t go gung‑ho at Manchester United or it will be a cricket score,” says Chris Coleman after Fulham’s 1‑0 defeat there drops them down to 16th. The errant Robin van Persie gets back in his manager’s good books with Arsenal’s only goal at Blackburn. With Talal El Karkouri sent off in the first half, Charlton crash 4‑1 at home to West Brom, for whom Rob Earnshaw scores a second-half hat-trick as a substitute, adding a gormless “machine gun” mime to the usual somersault. Newcastle’s run of eight straight wins in all competitions ends in a 1‑1 draw at Portsmouth, who have won just once since Boxing Day. Wigan are off the top of the Championship after a 1‑1 draw at Forest; Sunderland are two points clear after a sixth successive win, 1‑0 over Coventry, who slip into the bottom three. Hull’s 4‑0 win at Bournemouth takes them to within a point of League One leaders Luton, who get a 90th‑minute equaliser in a 2‑2 draw at Oldham. In the basement, Rushden draw 0‑0 at Kidderminster, while a “Fans United” day at Cambridge sees the home team win 2‑1 against Wycombe, but they’re still six points adrift of safety. Tony Cottee is assembling a consortium that will try to buy West Ham, currently £40m in debt.
Sunday 20 Liverpool are four points behind Everton after a 2‑1 win in a bad-tempered “£10m derby” – a flurry of fouling culminates with Milan Baros being sent off for a knee-high tackle on Alan Stubbs. Southampton’s 3‑1 win at Middlesbrough lifts them out of the bottom three. Birmingham stretch their unbeaten run against Villa to six matches, with Thomas Sorensen making ye olde traditional keeper’s cock-up for the first goal in a 2‑0 win; police are investigating a tunnel skirmish between Mario Melchiot and Lee Hendrie.
Monday 21 José faces a UEFA disrepute charge for claiming that he saw Frank Rijkaard in the referee’s room at the Nou Camp. Spurs’ Timothée Atouba will receive an FA hearing for his elbow on Joey Barton, missed by the referee during Saturday’s 2‑1 win over Man City; he is to claim that it was in response to racial abuse.
Tuesday 22 Man Utd chief executive and prize fool David Gill wants seeding in the knockout stage of the Champions League, based, of course, on past history: “It’s not good for the big clubs, not good for TV and sponsors if there are no Spanish clubs in the quarter-finals.” Gill also declares that Sir Alex is “sackable”, but then hurriedly insists that he was misconstrued. Meanwhile, Wayne Rooney, whose signing is the main cause of United’s half-yearly profits being down by 54 per cent, is to be questioned by police after an alleged brawl in a Manchester nightclub. Ray Lewington is surprisingly sacked by relegation-stalked Watford, who want to replace him with “a young progressive manager keen to forge a strong reputation” – G Vialli need not apply.
Wednesday 23 Chelsea, José and Ashley are charged by the FA over their clandestine affair, while Peter Kenyon claims that comments made by UEFA officials mean the club won’t receive a fair hearing over the Barcelona incidents: “These individuals have used deliberately inflammatory language which Chelsea finds unjust and unhelpful.” One of those individuals, William Gaillard, slaps down David Gill: “If United had won their group, they would not have been drawn against AC Milan in the knockout stage. Maybe they should consider that.” The famously reclusive David Beckham claims press intrusion into his family life may force him to leave Madrid.
Saturday 26 All the goals in England’s 4‑0 win over Northern Ireland come in a 15-minute spell after half-time. Joe Cole, scorer of the first, is man of the match on that confounded left-side: “He has finally learned that football is not only about making tricks,” says Sven, who stops just short of thanking Mourinho. John Toshack anticipates a panning after Wales go down to two late Austria goals: “People talk about systems, but sometimes I am baffled by what people say.” Scotland lose to two Andrea Pirlo free-kicks in Milan. The Republic of Ireland lead for 86 minutes in Israel before conceding an injury-time equaliser. Spurs’ Freddie Kanouté is threatened by rioting spectators in Mali, where a qualifier with Togo is abandoned after the visitors take the lead with a few minutes left. Yeovil go four points clear in League Two after a 2‑1 win at Boston; Kidderminster’s 2‑0 win at Darlington takes them to within a point of a safe spot.
Monday 28 Madridistas can breathe freely again as Beckham rejects reports that he is to join Arsenal or anyone else. League One leaders Luton go 13 points clear of third after winning 4‑2 at Torquay. With keeper Matt Baker saving a penalty for a second successive match, MK Dons’ 1‑0 win at Bournemouth leaves them six points clear of the relegation zone. At the foot of League Two, Rushden are two points clear of Kidderminster after drawing at Grimsby while bottom-huggers Cambridge seem doomed after losing 2‑0 to Southend.
Tuesday 29 Cardiff’s relegation rivals are unhappy that City, facing administration, have had PFA help to pay wages and also signed new players. “League regulations are not effective when one club can obtain such a substantial loan,” says Forest director John Pelling. Leeds coach Adrian Boothroyd emerges from an extremely distant back room to become Watford boss.
Wednesday 30 England plod to a 2‑0 win over Azerbaijan, with second-half goals from Beckham and Rooney. Far more entertaining is the post-match rant by visiting coach Carlos Alberto on being told, wrongly, that Michael Owen had said he’d score five: “What’s his name, the small one who doesn’t play in the Real Madrid first team? This midget ought to lick clean the boots of Beckham as they are so wet tonight.” Northern Ireland and Wales both lose to a late goal, in Poland and Austria respectively. A 22-year-old student withdraws his claim that Wayne Rooney assaulted him.
Thursday 31 José receives a two-match touchline ban from UEFA (and a piddling fine), so he won’t be going near anyone’s dressing room for either leg of the Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich. Alan Shearer will stay on for a further season at Newcastle in a player-coaching role. Jermaine Pennant is released from prison, but will have to wear an electronic tag while playing for Birmingham for the next two weeks. Disappointingly, Carlos Alberto apologises to Michael Owen for their misunderstanding: “None of us needs this argument to continue.”
From WSC 219 May 2005. What was happening this month