April 2007

Sunday 1 “As the beaten team, you think all kinds of sinister motives,” says Steve Coppell, one step away from blaming the CIA for Robbie Keane’s disputed penalty as Spurs move up to sixth with a 1-0 home win against Reading. DJ Campbell scores twice as Birmingham defeat Coventry 3-0 to go back into second in the Championship. Hearts beat Hibs 1-0 at Easter Road.

Tuesday 3 Liverpool stride towards the Champions League semis with a 3-0 win away to PSV. Coventry striker Kevin Kyle gets community service for fighting in the street while celebrating Scotland’s win over France last October. QPR’s 1-0 win over Preston takes them four points clear of the Championship relegation area; Burnley end a winless run of 19 games by beating Plymouth 4-0. Man Utd’s advice to travelling fans about places to avoid in Rome prompts indignation from the city’s mayor: “This risks creating a climate of bad feeling.”

Wednesday 4 “Considering we played with ten men mostly against 12 men, it’s a good result,” says Sir Alex as Paul Scholes is sent off in Man Utd’s 2-1 defeat by Roma. Eleven Man Utd fans are hospitalised, mostly as a result of being hit by riot police after clashes following Roma’s opening goal. Didier Drogba gets Chelsea’s equaliser in a 1-1 home draw with Valencia. José couldn’t care less: “If I do not go to the semi-final, then I will go to the wrestling at Earls Court with my kids.”

Thursday 6 Man Utd criticise the Rome police for “a serious over-reaction” at yesterday’s match, while UEFA spokesman William Gaillard says: “We are in favour of soft policing, which is the use of stewards who can handle a difficult situation probably better than riot police.” Several Spurs fans are involved in clashes with police during the team’s 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the UEFA Cup quarter-final. Stan Kroenke, billionaire owner of basketball and ice hockey teams in the US, is to buy ITV’s 9.9 per cent stake in Arsenal.

Saturday 7
“We will keep on coming,” cackles José as Chelsea close the gap to three points with a 1-0 win at home to Spurs. Man Utd are beaten 2-1 at Portsmouth, the winner a comical Rio Ferdinand own goal. At the bottom, West Ham make up some ground with a 1-0 win at Arsenal, who have 30 shots. “It’s a disease we’ve had all season. Create, create, create,” sighs Arsène. Sheffield United stay 18th after a 2-1 defeat at Newcastle. Birmingham miss out on a chance to go top of the Championship, losing 1-0 at Burnley. Mick McCarthy and Roy Keane perform more awkward handshakes for the cameras as Sunderland beat Wolves 2-1. Leeds climb out of the relegation places for the first time since November with a 2-1 win at home to Plymouth. In League One, Gary Johnson is sent off for running on and kicking the ball as Bristol City draw 0-0 at home to Swansea – promotion rivals Forest also slip up, losing 1-0 at Millwall. League Two leaders Hartlepool lose 2-1 at Barnet to end their 23‑game unbeaten run. Walsall stay second with a 2-1 win at Torquay. Dagenham & Redbridge are promoted as Conference champions after beating Aldershot at home.

Monday 9 European hopefuls Bolton and Everton draw 1-1 in a bad tempered game at the Reebok. “There’s no looking back, let’s look forward,” suggests Alan Pardew as Charlton go a point clear of Sheffield United with a 0-0 at home to Reading. “When you’re in a relegation dogfight you’ve got to fight like dogs,” Chris Coleman says as Fulham continue to slide with a 3-1 home defeat by Man City. Paul Jewell’s not happy after Wigan’s 1-1 draw at Villa: “A penalty, offside not given, I sound like Neil Warnock.” Sunderland go top of the Championship, coming from behind to win 2-1 at Southampton. They overtake Derby, who draw 1-1 at home to Coventry, while Birmingham lose 1-0 at Barnsley with both sides having a player sent off in a post-match scuffle. Leeds drop into the bottom three after losing 2-1 to a 90th-minute goal at Colchester. League One leaders Scunthorpe lose 2-1 at Northampton, scorer Bradley Johnson being sent off for celebrating in the crowd. Second-placed Bristol City also lose, 2-1 at Gillingham. Brentford are the first team relegated this season after a 3-1 defeat at Crewe. “I don’t think the players are good enough,” says manager Scott Fitzgerald, possibly a touch too late. Hartlepool, Walsall and Swindon all win at the top of League Two, opening up a four-point gap in the automatic promotion spots. Boston beat Macclesfield 4-1 to move three points clear of Wrexham, who lose 1-0 at Notts County, in the final relegation spot.

Tuesday 10 Man Utd 7 Roma 1. “That’s absolutely the best night of European football we’ve had here,” says Sir Alex, whose side were three up inside 20 minutes. Several fans from both sides are arrested after pre-match scuffles. A Michael Essien goal in the last minute gives Chelsea a 2-1 win at Valencia. Afterwards José again hints that he’ll be off soon: “It is harder to achieve results for a club that is not at peace.” Fulham sack Chris Coleman; Lawrie Sanchez will be caretaker while keeping his job with Northern Ireland. Scott Fitzgerald is dismissed by Brentford: “The best thing we can say about this season is it is now effectively over,” says Greg Dyke. Rotherham caretaker Mark Robins is promoted to full-time manager.

Wednesday 11 Liverpool progress in Europe after beating PSV 1-0. Rob Kelly is sacked by Leicester who have gone eight games without a win; Nigel Worthington takes charge until the summer. Andy Ritchie is the new manager of Huddersfield. A sponsorship deal with a betting firm means that the Conference will be renamed the Blue Square Premier. Luton chairman Bill Tomlins resigns – the club’s recent transfer dealings are currently being investigated by the FA.

Thursday 12 Spurs’ European season is over after they concede twice in the first seven minutes against Sevilla, eventually drawing 2-2. The Premier League’s Richard Scudamore calls for international matches to be played in two blocks of a few weeks, one after Christmas and one in the summer: “It would be better than the stop-start, stop-start situation we have now.”

Saturday 14 Manchester United beat Watford 4-1 at Villa Park to reach the FA Cup final, Wayne Rooney scoring twice. “I’ve complained to the players,” says Alan Curbishley as West Ham are beaten 3-0 at Sheffield United, who move out of the bottom three. “I’ve proved the impossible is possible,” says Lawrie Sanchez after Fulham lose 1-0 at Reading. Arsenal look safe in fourth spot after a 2-1 defeat of Bolton. Sunderland lead the Championship by four points with a 2-1 win over QPR. “They’ve got that devil in them,” says John Gregory. Second-placed Derby lose 2-1 at Ipswich; Birmingham are a point back after beating Southampton. Luton lose 2-1 at home to Plymouth but escape relegation as Hull draw 1-1 with Colchester. Scunthorpe clinch promotion with a 2-0 win against Huddersfield. Bristol City beat Yeovil by the same score to go four points clear in second. Rotherham are relegated after defeat to Carlisle. In League Two, Hartlepool are promoted with a 1-0 win at Wycombe. Walsall also go up by beating Notts County. Torquay drop out of the League after 79 years through a 1-1 draw at home to Peterborough. “I made a mega-mistake,” says chairman Mike Bateson, putting the club up for sale. Wrexham move above Boston in the last relegation spot with a 3-0 win at Lincoln. Celtic beat St Johnstone 2-1 to reach the Scottish Cup final.

Sunday 15 “He is a player loved by his manager,” swoons José as Michael Ballack scores the winner in a 2-1 extra-time defeat of Blackburn in the second Cup semi at Old Trafford. Charlton stay 18th after losing 2-1 at Everton, James McFadden scoring a spectacular winner in the 92nd minute. “We have one more point than we had on Saturday,” reasons Paul Jewell, fiddling with his abacus after Wigan’s 3-3 draw at home to Spurs. Hibs and Dunfermline draw 0-0 in their Cup semi.

Tuesday 17 Man Utd march on with a 2-0 win over Sheffield United, who rest several players with the next match against Charlton in mind. Neil Warnock swipes at referee Rob Styles for not giving his side a penalty: “I know people don’t like upsetting Sir Alex.” Birmingham’s 2-1 win at Leicester takes them up to second in the Championship. Rafa Benítez claims to have turned down an offer to take over Real Madrid: “I would say the future is better here than over there.”

Wednesday 18 Shaun Wright-Phillips gets his first two league goals for Chelsea in a 4‑1 win at West Ham that keeps them three points behind Man Utd. The visitors’ team bus is hit by a brick outside Upton Park: “It happens because there are emotions,” says Frank Lampard. Poland-Ukraine beat favourites Italy to become hosts of Euro 2012. David Dein quits as Arsenal vice chairman but is expected to be part of a takeover bid by US investor Stan Kroenke.

Saturday 21 “We cannot feel sorry for ourselves,” says Sir Alex as Man Utd drop two points at home in a 1­‑1 draw with Boro, who are also denied a clear late penalty. Arsenal and Spurs draw 2-2, Jermaine Jenas scoring a last-minute equaliser. Reading come from behind to win 3-1 at Bolton. “At 1-0 I’d have ripped someone’s arm off for a point,” growls Steve Coppell. At the bottom Watford are relegated after a 1-1 draw with Man City. “Nobody has died,” Aidy Boothroyd points out. West Ham’s 1-0 win over Everton leaves them two points from safety. “I think our percentage chances have gone down,” calculates Alan Pardew as Charlton and Sheffield United draw 1‑1. Fulham are only three points off the drop after a 1‑1 draw at home to Blackburn. Sunderland lose for the first time this year, 3-1 at Colchester, but stay top of the Championship by a point. Leicester end their relegation worries by beating Preston 1-0. “He sets a wonderful example to the kids,” says Phil Brown as Nick Barmby scores in the last minute to give Hull a 1-1 draw at Stoke. Leeds are back in the bottom three after a 1-0 defeat at Southampton. In League One, Oldham lose 2-1 at Crewe and are level in the last play-off spot with Swansea, who beat Brighton. At the bottom Bradford lose to Leyton Orient and are four points off safety; Chesterfield look doomed after losing at home to Blackpool. League Two automatic-promotion chasers Swindon and MK Dons both win, the Dons 2-1 at Stockport, who are four points clear of Peterborough in the final play-off spot. Boston, facing eviction from their ground over unpaid bills, beat Chester 1-0 to stay two points behind third-bottom Wrexham, who also win, at home to Torquay. Macclesfield could still be in trouble after a 5-0 thrashing at Rochdale – Paul Ince may turn out in their final match “if we need somebody to calm things down”.

Sunday 22 Chelsea fail to take advantage of Man Utd’s slip-up against Boro, drawing 0-0 at Newcastle. “If somebody punishes me because I tell the truth it is the end of democracy,” declares José, unhappy about not being awarded a penalty. Portsmouth draw 0-0 at Villa, David James setting a new record for Premiership clean sheets – 142 matches. “He’s got the body of an 18-year-old. It’s frightening,” blushes Harry Redknapp. Birmingham are top of the Championship after a 3-2 win at Wolves, who miss an injury-time penalty. Celtic wrap up the SPL title with a 2-1 win at Kilmarnock. “I’ve never taken drugs but I wonder if it’s a bit like this,” says Gordon Strachan. Cristiano Ronaldo wins the PFA player of the year and young player of the year awards.

Monday 23 West Brom stay fifth in the Championship, losing a two-goal lead in a 3-2 defeat at Burnley. Man City receive a takeover bid from a group headed by former player Ray Ranson. Michael Essien is arrested for drink-driving at 5am.

Tuesday 24 A Wayne Rooney goal in the 90th minute gives Man Utd a 3-2 win over AC Milan, who had led at half time, in their Champions League semi-final first leg. Sir Alex is sensing an all-English final: “I think given our speed that we’ll score over there too.” Wrexham go three points clear of relegation in League Two after a third successive win, 1-0 at play-off-chasing Shrewsbury. Terry Butcher is the new manager of Brentford – pre-season training on sand dunes is likely. Dunfermline reach the Scottish Cup final, winning their replay with Hibs 1-0.

Wednesday 25
Joe Cole scores the only goal of a dire Champions League semi against Liverpool at Stamford Bridge. José has another whine about not being given a penalty but has to recant after seeing a replay. World Cup-winner Alan Ball dies aged 61 – he’ll get a minute’s applause at weekend matches. Portsmouth are to build a 36,000-seat dockland stadium, pending council approval.

Friday 27
West Ham are fined £5.5m, but escape a points deduction, for what the ruling panel see as “an obvious and deliberate breach of the rules” over the signings of Carlos Tévez and Javier Mascherano. Roma and Man Utd receive small fines for the trouble at their Champions League tie. Sunderland tighten their hold on a promotion place, beating Burnley 3-2.

Saturday 28 Man Utd are five points clear after coming back from two down to win 4-2 at Everton while Chelsea are held 2-2 by Bolton. “United can come to Stamford Bridge, lose, and still be champions,” says a horror-struck José. West Ham draw level with 17th placed Wigan after beating them 3-0; Paul Jewell is among those fuming over the tribunal decision: “We know Wigan or Watford would have had the points taken off.” Charlton slip back to second bottom with a 4-1 defeat at Blackburn; Sheffield Utd’s 1-0 defeat of Watford takes them three points clear. Leeds will drop to the third level for the first time after letting in an 88th-minute equaliser for a 1‑1 draw with Ipswich while Hull win 1-0 at Cardiff; the end of the Leeds game is delayed for 30 minutes after a pitch invasion. Chesterfield beat Bradford 3-0 but both go down from League One because rivals Cheltenham win at Rotherham; Forest, Bristol City and Blackpool can all get the final promotion spot. The last relegation place in League Two rests between Macclesfield, Boston and Wrexham, the latter two playing each other next week. Gretna are promoted to the SPL, a 90th-minute winner at Ross County keeping them a point above St Johnstone.

Sunday 29 Derby’s 2-0 defeat at Palace means that Sunderland and Birmingham are promoted. Fulham are only a point clear after losing 3-1 at Arsenal. Sam Allardyce leaves Bolton; Sammy Lee will replace him. Leeds may go into administration but it needs to be
before May 6 – or they’ll start League One with minus
ten points. Hurry, Ken.X

From WSC 244 June 2007. What was happening this month