Monday 1 Glenn Hoddle refuses to step down as England coach, but Tony Blair and, more importantly, the Nationwide building society come out against him. "He has a responsibility to ensure that his personal views shouldn't be confused with those of the England team, the FA or its sponsors," says Mike Lazenby, Nationwide's marketing director. "I'm not some crackpot who comes out with stupid remarks to cause controversy," Hoddle insists, despite all evidence to the contrary. John Hartson is fined £20,000 and given a three-match ban by the FA for his training-ground attack on Eyal Berkovic. "I have to control my aggression," Hartson says, which will be unwelcome news to his manager.
Saturday 2 FA Cup headlines are made at Rushden, where Leeds are held to a goalless draw, Forest, who lose 1-0 to Portsmouth – Dave Bassett’s non-attendance at a post-match press conference fuelling speculation that he may be about to quit – Upton Park where Swansea are minutes away from beating West Ham before a Julian Dicks goal forces a replay, and at the Dell, where metropolitan fat cats Fulham are denied victory by a last-minute equaliser from Southampton’s Egil Ostenstad. Yeovil also concede a late goal in a draw at Cardiff but the other non-League team, Southport, are beaten 2-0 at home by Leyton Orient. This week’s FA inquiry will look into an incident during Chelsea’s 2-0 win at Oldham when referee Paul Durkin was struck by a hot dog (tomato sauce, no onions) though stewards claim it was only a sausage roll.
Sunday 3 Man Utd recover from a goal down to beat Middlesbrough 3-1 with the help of a penalty decision, given for Neil Maddison’s “trip” on Nicky Butt, that Alex is happy with for once: “If Graham Barber gave it must have been a penalty.” Another questionable spotkick, acquired and scored by Michael Owen, sets Liverpool on the way to a 3-0 win over Port Vale. In Scotland Rangers go four points clear at the top, and ten points ahead of Celtic, after the Old Firm “New Year’s Day” match ends 2-2. There are 50,000 Scots in the crowd and eight on the pitch.
Monday 4 A Cup shock looks on the cards for half an hour at Preston, where the home team race into a two-goal lead against Arsenal, before eventually going down 4-2. Controversy surrounds Arsenal's third goal, which is preceded by Preston defender Ryan Kidd being laid out by an elbow from substitute striker Fabian Caballero (don't ask). "I think there was an elbow incident and that was disappointing," says home manager David Moyes. "We don't need to start fights to win matches," snaps Arsene.
Tuesday 1 Home wins in the Worthington for Sunderland, who score two in the last minute in beating Luton 3-0, and Wimbledon, where the holders Chelsea suffer their first defeat in 19 games. Gianluca becomes the 1,000th defeated manager to say: “We tried to play football, not long ball like Wimbledon,” while Joe Kinnear virtually writes his own invite to an FA disciplinary hearing by announcing that his players “had a nice few bob” on themselves to win the tournament at the start of the season.
Wednesday 2 In the Worthington Spurs beat a Man Utd team featuring nine changes from their last match. “Some clubs may treat this tournament lightly but we’re not in a position to do so,” says George. “Even the best teams can’t win all the time,” sniffs Alex. In the other tie, recent cup specialists Leicester plough on with a 1-0 win over Blackburn , who announce that they have been given permission to talk to Brian Kidd about their managerial vacancy. “I just hope he decides to stay,” whispers Alex, being brave for the sake of the kids.
Sunday 1 Middlesbrough miss a chance to go third by conceding a last-minute equalizer at home to Forest. Pierre van Hooijdonk doesn't play but Paul Gascoigne does, having discharged himself from the addiction clinic. Paul will still undergo treatment but intends to move in with with his Dad: the latest in a long line of smart moves by the troubled Geordie. Sunderland, the League's only unbeaten team, return to the top of the First Division after a 3-0 win at Bolton.
Tuesday 3 A mixed night in the UEFA Cup (English clubs used to win it, you know). Villa lose 3-1 at home to Celta Vigo to go out 3-2 on aggregate, and Leeds are eliminated too after a goalless draw with Roma at Elland Road. Liverpool go through, however, on away goals after a 2-2 draw in Valencia, though they end the game with nine men after Steve McManaman and Paul Ince (no, really) are sent off in a general fracas towards the end. Celtic are out too, beaten 4-2 in Zürich.
Wednesday 4 In the Champions League, Man Utd thrash Brondby 5-0 and are now looking a good bet to win their group – “the first half was one of the best I’ve seen,” says Alex, hopping from foot to foot. Arsenal, though, drop to the bottom of their section after a 3-1 defeat in Kiev and will need to win both their last two matches to qualify for whatever stage comes next (look it up if you must).
Thursday 1 Chelsea progress to the second round of the Cup-Winners Cup after a goalless draw at Helsingborgs, but Newcastle are out on away goals after conceding a penalty at Partizan Belgrade. Hearts are also eliminated despite a 1-1 draw in Mallorca, but will appeal to UEFA because the goalposts were higher at one end than the other. Worth a try. George Graham is the new manager of Spurs. "I will tell the players of my beliefs. I won't change but some of them might have to," he says, all stern and Presbyterian. ""We must never sit on the edge of our seats again wondering if we will be relegated," says Alan Sugar, who seems to have revised his view about bungs and the people who take them. Martin O'Neill looks to be favourite to succeed Graham at Leeds. "It would be stupid of me to say I would never leave Leicester because I was close to walking out in the summer," he says before dashing off to sit by the phone.
Saturday 3 A six-point lead for Villa who win 2-1 at Coventry with the help of a dozy referee's assistant who fails to flag for offside before their second goal. "I hope he will apologise to my family when I can't feed them because I got the sack," bristles Gordon Strachan. Man Utd move to second after a 3-0 win at Southampton, ahead of Wimbledon and Derby, beaten at home by Everton and Spurs respectively. "We are not all pansies at Spurs, I think we can be a tough side to beat," says David Pleat, in charge for the last time. Huddersfield return to the top of the First Division after beating Oxford Utd 2-0, while Sunderland are held at home by Bradford. Stoke's lead at the top of the Second Division is cut to two points after defeat at Reading, while Scunthorpe stay top of the Third despite crashing 4-0 at home to Halifax. Kilmarnock are top in Scotland for the first time since the days of Beatlemania despite only drawing at home with Dunfermline.
Tuesday 1 Tony Adams's autobiography, Addicted, serialized in the Sun , lays into Glenn Hoddle's preparations for France 98 - "A lot of what Glenn was doing and saying did not impress me. He seemed quite nervous and was whistling a lot – not the sign of a relaxed man," and his mishandling of Paul Gascoigne's axing from the squad - "Gazza was an ill man and Glenn did not properly understand the illness of addiction." Apparently, Glenn's nickname among England players is "Chocolate" because he think he's good enough to eat. What times they must have.
Wednesday 2 Millionaire pranksters Media Partners announce a rejigging of their European league plans, with two extra clubs added to each of the two super league divisions (you remember) and an extra 32 to be involved into the knockout Pro Cup, thereby including every country in Europe, which would be lovely. Glenn and Tony hold a press conference at which Glenn denies, in characteristically sticky fashion, that he was upset by Tone's comments about him. "He is entitled to his opinions, many of which are positive. In a strange way I think it has brought us closer together." "I've got total respect for the man, not because he's sitting next to me, but because I have," adds Tony, improvising nicely. Man City are to be invited to become tenants of the new 45,000 capacity multi-sports stadium to be built in Manchester for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Lottery funding, however, seems to be dependent on City moving in.
Saturday 1 It emerges that the clubs planning a European super league are to meet with the European Commission to establish whether UEFA or FIFA would be able to prevent a new competition being set up outside their control. Meanwhile, Alex Ferguson joins in the debate, saying: "There's been a lot of panic in every quarter about this. But when you assess English football with all the great matches you can get, does anyone really want it broken up?" Keith Gillespie looks set to be Newcastle's first sale of the summer, joining Middlesbrough for £3.5 million. Boro are also said to be in competition with Aston Villa to sign Juninho from Atletico Madrid. Celtic begin their defence of the Scottish Premier by thrashing Dunfermline 5-0.
Sunday 2 Pierre van Hooijdonk asks to be transfer-listed in the wake of Kevin Campbell's departure for Trabzonspor, saying, "I'm not prepared to let my career go down the pan. Right now the team is not good enough to survive in the Premiership." Dave Bassett responds: "Once again Pierre's lack of control has surfaced. He's got four years left on his contract." In the Scottish League match held over from yesterday, Hearts beat Rangers 2-1. There'll be another 16 English and Scottish league matches broadcast on Sky before the end of August. Spoilt, we are.
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.
Tuesday 2 Sir John Hall resigns from the board of Newcastle Utd and its parent company. Two directors of the plc stepped down last week, apparently in protest at the impending return to the club board of Freddie Shepherd and Douglas Hall. Stan Ternent leaves Bury to become manager of Burnley. Romario is out of Brazil's World Cup squad having not recovered from injury. "We had a similar situation with Gary McAllister so things have evened out," says Craig Brown.
Wednesday 3 Terry Venables criticizes Glenn Hoddle's decision to drop Paul Gascoigne: "I think I would have been a little more patient."
Saturday 6 Hoddle summons Teddy Sheringham for a chat after the tabloids find him drinking in a nightclub in Portugal. "If people read that I was out until 6am I admit that it sounds disgraceful," says Teddy. Slough Town are thrown out of the Conference for failing to upgrade their ground. Telford, who finished in the third relegation spot, are reinstated.
Saturday 2 "I hope it's not too late," says Colin Todd as Bolton move out of the bottom three with a 5-2 home win over Palace, managed for the day by Ron Noades, who may become Brentford's new owner next week. Barnsley are down after a 1-0 defeat at Leicester – "The first half of the season was a steep learning curve for us," says Danny Wilson. Spurs are almost safe after thrashing Wimbledon 6-2 at Selhurst Park with J®πrgen Klinsmann getting four. Newcastle are in the clear after a 3-1 win over Chelsea, though the FA are likely to charge Alan Shearer with misconduct over the Neil Lennon incident. In the Second Division, Watford are champions after a 2-1 win at Fulham, who just squeak into the play-offs . At the other end, Brentford drop down to the bottom division for the first time in 20 years after losing at Bristol Rovers, Burnley stay up through beating Plymouth 2-1. In the Third, Lincoln take the third automatic promotion place after beating Brighton while Torquay lose at Leyton Orient. In Scotland, Rangers cock up again, losing at home 1-0 to Kilmarnock.
Sunday 3 Arsenal are champions after beating Everton 4-0 at Highbury. "I thought I had to keep my emotions until now in case we did not win the title," says Arsene. And you thought he was just shy. Everton now need to beat Coventry next week and hope that Bolton don't win against a probably under-strength Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Man City go down to the Second Division, despite winning 5-2 at Stoke, who are also relegated. Middlesbrough are back in the Premiership. Celtic miss a chance to wrap up the Scottish title, conceding a late equaliser at Dunfermline. Justin Fashanu is found dead seemingly having committed suicide.