August 1998

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.

Monday 3 Patrick Kluivert turns down a £9 million move to Man Utd – "We were led to believe he wanted to speak to us, but you know what agents are like," sighs Alex. Utd are now expected to up their offer for Dwight Yorke. Exciting, eh? Pierre van Hooijdonk, meanwhile, is refusing to return to Forest for pre-season training, saying that the last straw was Forest's disinterest in his team colleague Wim Jonk, who has joined Sheffield Wed from PSV for £2.5 million. Gillespie's transfer to Boro is called off after he fails a medical due to an ankle injury.

Tuesday 4
Colin Hendry joins Rangers to take their summer spending to £28 million (they'd better get invited to that super league). Kevin Campbell's move to Trabzonspor is called off because their cheque bounced. Ray Mathias is the new manager of Wigan. Paul Gascoigne is omitted from a 29-man England training squad for a weekend get-together in mid-August. "I will be looking closely to see how he starts the season," says Glenn, mischieviously.

Wednesday 5 For the first time, Arsenal and Man Utd publicly admit to having taken part in discussions about a European league, both releasing statements that talk of their "duty to examine any serious proposal that we feel might be beneficial". Reports suggest that the plan would involve a further 50 clubs in a knockout competition in addition to the 32 taking part a two-tier league.

Friday 7 Writs are flying in Italy where Roma coach Zdenek Zeman names Alessandro Del Piero and Gianluca Vialli among several players who he claims have used illegal muscle-building drugs. Vialli in turn describes Zeman as "a terrorist". And there's some queer business afoot here, if Big Ron is to be believed. His new book contains claims that drug use is rife in the Premiership, with "a well known England international" being the main supplier. Ooer. Coventry sign Croatian wing back Robert Jarni for £2.6 million. The nomadic David Unsworth returns to Villa who have been unable to agree a transfer deal with Everton. Forest agree to transfer list Pierre van Hooijdonk who says, "I do not want any animosity at all between me and the club."

Saturday 8 Sunderland draw the biggest crowd on the opening day of the League season, 41,008 seeing their 1-0 win over QPR. The other promotion favourites, Bolton, get a last-minute equalizer in a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. A crowd of over 32,000 see Man City's first match in the Second Division, a 3-0 win over Blackpool, but Macclesfield draw less than 4,000, one-third below their new capacity, for the visit of Fulham who take the points with a John Salako goal. Halifax mark their return to the League with a 2-0 victory at Peterborough. Among the latest batch of foreign imports, the most noteworthy debuts come from Danish striker Soren Andersen who scores both goals in Bristol City's 2-2 draw with Oxford, Belgian goalkeeper Nico Vaesen who is sent off after 11 minutes of Huddersfield's 1-0 defeat at Bury and Reading's new keeper, the unfortunately named Dutchman Peter van der Kwaak, who cocks up twice in a 3-0 defeat at Wrexham. In the second round of the Scottish League Cup, Dundee are beaten 1-0 at home by Second Division Alloa and Dundee Utd need a penalty shoot-out to see off Stirling Albion.

Sunday 9 Arsenal stroll to a 3-0 win over Man Utd in the Charity Shield. David Beckham is booed throughout, while Jaap Stam blunders about at the back. "I didn't want to pick my World Cup players, but had to get them ready for Wednesday," says Alex ambiguously. "I think Beckham will learn from this and until then he must get used to it," Arsene Wenger points out helpfully. "Murderers have been treated better than David," according to Glenn Hoddle's World Cup diary, which recommends a good session with Eileen Drewery for the lad. The FA plan to double the number of drug tests this season – just as well if Big Ron is right when he claims Premiership players have "cocaine, cannabis and all sorts of funny tablets buzzing around in their system".

Tuesday 11 Quite a palaver over the serialization of Glenn Hoddle's World Cup diary in the Sun which includes a description of Paul Gascoigne's tantrum after being dropped from the squad. "It's pathetic the way everyone is jumping on the Gazza bandwagon. I'm not going to get in a slanging match with Glenn, but let's say I'm disappointed," snarls Bryan Robson. Apparently Paul needs to do five things to get back in favour with Glenn, including not drinking and curbing his temper. So, no chance. Rangers look set to progress in the UEFA Cup after beating PAOK Salonika 2-0 in the first leg of their preliminary round tie, but Kilmarnock lose by the same score away to Sigma Olomouc. In the first round first leg of the Worthington Cup (get used to it), Port Vale lose 2-1 at home to Chester, Stockport come back from two down to draw 2-2 at home with Hull City, and Halifax win 2-0 at Wrexham despite being down to ten men for more than half the match. Spurs are to sue David Mellor for claiming in his Evening Standard column that big name players won't sign for Christian Gross . No mercy, Alan.

Wednesday 12 Man Utd stroll to a 2-0 win over LKS Lodz in their Champions League preliminary round tie with goals from Ryan Giggs and Andy Cole. The Lodz players got £2,000 for shaving their heads as part of a deal with their sponsor, who makes wig glue. This would be an example of what is meant by the phrase "a two-speed Europe". Also in the Champions League, Celtic beat Croatia Zagreb 1-0 at Parkhead. Glenn Hoddle's agent defends the revelations about Gascoigne by referring to the player's exclusive interview with the Sun the day after he was dropped: "As a result of that article, Mr Hoddle decided that it was absolutely neccesary to insert in his book the facts of what had taken place." Woooh, get him.

Thursday 13 Gordon Taylor joins in the chorus of criticism over the Hoddle book, saying, "I don't think it is the sort of thing you expect from the England coach. The players will be very wary of Glenn now." The FA have dropped their disciplinary action against Brian Clough for allegedly taking bungs because Clough is said to be too ill to defend himself. Leicester pay a club record £2 million for Frank Sinclair, who predicts that more home-grown players will be leaving Chelsea: "They've got 16 or 17 internationals now and that makes it incredibly difficult for youngsters to get into the side." In the Cup-Winners Cup Hearts win 1-0 in Estonia.

Friday 14 Man City settle down to life in the Second Division with a 3-0 defeat at Fulham. Following the third goal, before half-time, hard rockin' Noel Gallagher has to be restrained by stewards after emerging from an executive box to discuss the pattern of play with a group of home fans.

Saturday 15 A wobbly start for Man Utd, who come from two down to draw 2-2 at home to Leicester, David Beckham getting the equalizer in injury time. United are believed to have offered £10 million for Alen Boksic of Lazio, who won't be wanting Andy Cole in part exchange. Charlton have Richard Rufus sent off in the first half at Newcastle but hold out for a goalless draw. "I've survived Portakabins and things like that. Tonight I will walk out here with a lump in my throat," croaks Alan Curbishley. John Collins misses a penalty on his debut for Everton against Villa in another scoreless game but Ian Wright has a happier start, scoring the only goal of the game for West Ham at Sheffield Wed. "Enger-land, Enger-land" chant Coventry fans during their team's 2-1 win over Chelsea. In the First Division Bradford and Port Vale are the only teams without a point after two games while Wolves, Norwich and Watford all have a maximum six. "The players are in the real world now," says Barnsley boss John Hendrie, after his team are beaten 3-1 at Crewe. In the Second Division, Reading, forced to play away until their new stadium is ready, lose by three goals again, this time 4-1 at Bristol Rovers. Nearly 4,000 turn out to see Halifax's first League game in five years, a 1-0 win over Brentford. FIFA are to investigate Nelson Vivas's transfer from Lugano to Arsenal after Arsene Wenger admits that Arsenal "asked" Lugano to buy the player from Boca Juniors in February. Arsenal gave Lugano almost £1 million more for Vivas than they had paid to Boca. And Arsene seemed like such a nice man, with his glasses.

Sunday 16 Michael Owen gets a pop star's welcome at Southampton and the decisive goal in Liverpool's 2-1 win, scored after his marker Jason Dodd is refused permission to come back on after being injured. "Somebody will have to explain the rule to me because I don't understand it," says David Jones. Aberdeen are the only team with maximum points in the Scottish Premier after a 3-2 defeat of Celtic, who miss two penalties.

Monday 17
Arsenal beat Forest 2-1 with a late winner from Marc Overmars. "We had good ball circulation but not enough penetration," says Arsene, who looks up from his notebook long enough to confirm that Arsenal still hope to sign Patrick Kluivert before the Thursday deadline for the Champions League. For the same reason, the world's most boring transfer saga may be coming to a conclusion with Man Utd increasing their bid for Dwight Yorke to £12 million. Coventry will make a profit of around £500,000 on Croatian defender Robert Jarni, who is to move to Real Madrid less than a fortnight after coming to Highfield Road.

Tuesday 18 A bad night for First Division clubs in the Worthington Cup with West Brom crashing 3-0 at Brentford, Stockport being knocked out by Hull City on away goals, Watford losing 2-1 on aggregate to Cambridge after a draw at Vicarage Road, and Port Vale going out 4-3 to cash-strapped Chester, whose players' travelling expenses were paid by the club's independent supporters' association. Eric Cantona makes his final appearance in a Man Utd shirt in a testimonial for the families of the Munich air disaster victims and says that he retired because "I lost my passion for the game". It's a sentiment a few might sympathize with on a day when UEFA announce that they intend to restructure the three European club tournaments, which is likely to involve an expanded Champions League and a merger of the Cup-Winners and UEFA Cups.

Wednesday 19 "Maybe he knows something. He's supposed to be able to see into the future, isn't he?" cackles Terry Venables in response to the latest revelations from Glenn Hoddle's book, in which it is suggested that Terry has been frosty with Glenn because he wants the England job back. Week-old Worthington Cup records are shattered by Man City, who beat Notts County 7-1. In the Scottish League Cup, Celtic's stumbling start continues with a 1-0 defeat at Airdrie and Third Division Ross County beat Dundee Utd 2-0.

Thursday 20 Man Utd sign Dwight Yorke for £12.6 million, the second largest transfer deal between two English clubs. "Two weeks ago, Dwight openly stated to me that he wanted to play for Manchester United. That really hurt me, and if I had had a gun I would have shot him," says John Gregory, keeping it in perspective. Doug Ellis, meanwhile, may risk a shy smile at the news that the Yorke sale, plus the departure of David Unsworth to Everton, boosted Villa's share value by £2.5 million. Blackburn flash Jack Walker's cash again to sign Christian Dailly from Derby for £5.3 million.

Saturday 22 Three more goalless draws in the Premiership today, taking the total to seven out of 18 games. A few weeks in the same vein and the pay-per-view zealots will be taking to their beds. No goals at Anfield, where Arsenal field a defence with an average age of 97, nor at Upton Park where the Beckham detractors are drowned out by cries of "Argentina!" from the away end. Charlton are top after Clive Mendonca hits a hat-trick in a 5-0 thrashing of Southampton. "We'll come back down to earth when we walk into Highbury," says Alan Curbishley, doing the one-game-as-it-comes number. Spurs' 3-0 home defeat by Sheffield Wed ends with a fan demo calling for the resignation of Alan Sugar, who is said to have had talks with prospective buyers including, ulp, Rupert Murdoch and multi-millionaire Joe Lewis, who already owns several European clubs and a couple of planets. Norwich head the First Division after a 4-2 win over QPR, from Birmingham who win 2-0 at Sheffield Utd. In the Second, Stoke stay top after coming back from two down to win 4-3 at Preston, while Bristol Rovers' match with Gillingham ends with two players from each side being dismissed after a mass brawl in the last minute. FA inquiry coming up.

Sunday 23 "There are a lot very talented lads left at this club," says John Gregory as Villa beat Middlesbrough 3-1. Some of the Dwight cash may be spent on Emile Heskey, for whom Leicester have turned down a bid of £9 million. To the surprise of no one, apart from possibly Alan Sugar, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer announces that he does not want to leave Man Utd for Spurs, who have offered £5 million.

Monday 24 Media Partners, the company behind the projected European league, stage another "productive" meeting in London with representatives from leading clubs, including Arsenal and Man Utd. Rodolfo Hecht, president of Media Partners, claims that the league will begin in 2000 with two divisions of 16 clubs, plus a knockout cup for a further 60-plus teams. Steady Rodolfo, we're starting to feel sick again. In the quaint old domestic league, Leeds beat Blackburn 1-0.

Tuesday 25 UEFA announce that they have rejected an offer to work with Media Partners. "We reject this private project. We do not feel it deserves out attention," sniffs vice president Antonio Matarrese – and will shortly reveal their own plans for making a great big mess of European club football. A goalless draw in Salonika takes Rangers through to the first round proper of the UEFA Cup, Kilmarnock are out, though, after a 2-0 home defeat by Sigma Olomouc. Crystal Palace are taken to extra time by Torquay in the Worthington Cup, but are about to be reinforced by two really tall Chinese lads.

Wednesday 26
Celtic exit from the Champions League at the preliminary round stage after losing 3-0 in Zagreb. They'll now move into the UEFA Cup, as one does. Celtic's players, in dispute with the club over win bonuses, have lifted their ban on media interviews but they will only answer questions about football. A shame, as Jonathan Gould and Regi Blinker are know to hold firm and opposing views on the financial crisis afflicting the tiger economies of the Pacific rim.

Thursday 27 Kenny Dalglish is sacked by Newcastle and will be replaced by Ruud Gullit. "Someone told me late Wednesday night but I thought were winding me up," says Kenny, whose lawyers will dispute the club's claim that he wanted to resign on August 18 but was persuaded to stay until a replacement was signed. "The Newcastle fans are noisy and wild and that is what I like," says Ruud, possibly unwisely. He seems to have been promised a stack of spending money by the returned prodigals, Douglas and Freddy. Early days, of course, but this looks like a right old cock-up and could get a deal worse. As if that was not enough excitement for one day, Sky's headhunters return from another lightning raid on the BBC and discover, on opening the sack, that they've somehow ended up with Jimmy Hill, who will be presenting a new sports discussion show. Hearts complete a 6-0 aggregate Cup-Winners Cup win over FC Lantana.

Friday 28 UEFA announce the creation of a taskforce (hurrah!) which will report in October (yes, yes) on ways in which the European competitions could be reformed (bite that Silvio!), which might include former winners being given "wild card" entries into the Champions League. "We must honour what the big clubs have done for us, but we can't be threatened by private proposals," says Lennart Johansson, quivering like a big Swedish jelly. Wolves keep up their 100 per cent record in the First Division with a 2-0 win at Watford.

Saturday 29 The first relegation six-pointer of the season in the Premier League sees Spurs win 1-0 at Everton thanks to an early goal from Les Ferdinand. "I am convinced I will be here for the next two games," says Christian, getting ironical. Villa are top after winning 1-0 at Sheffield Wed, Southampton remain bottom after a third successive defeat, this time 2-1 at home to Forest. Emmanuel Petit is sent off as Arsenal are held to a 0-0 draw at home by Charlton. Coventry's match with West Ham also finishes goalless, taking the season's total to ten. Super. In the First Division, Sunderland are top after winning 2-0 at Ipswich. Norwich's unbeaten record goes at West Brom, where sub Fabien De Freitas (recommended to Albion by…Bruce Rioch) scores twice, the first within seconds of coming on. Wycombe are the only League team without a point after losing 3-0 at York. Rangers go top in Scotland after beating St Johnstone while Celtic draw at Dundee.

Sunday 30 "I know now where things are going wrong," says Ruud, so shocked he neglects to add "also", after watching Newcastle lose 4-1 at home to new leaders Liverpool, for whom Michael Owen gets a first-half hat-trick. Now's your chance to buy Tranmere – disgruntled chairman Frank Corfe wants to sell his controlling interest for £7 million. (If you have that amount of spare cash, though, be sure to call us first.)

Monday 31 Still smarting at being strongly tipped for relegation by WSC's pre-season pundits, Bury go third in the First Division after a 3-0 win over Swindon. "You can't say that we are not entertaining," chirps Denis Smith as West Brom miss a chance to go second in the First Division by crashing 5-1 to a Grimsby side containing four former Albion players. Ipswich get their first goals of the season at the fifth attempt, winning 3-0 at Port Vale, who remain bottom. Stoke, are now the only League club with a 100 per cent record after a 1-0 win at Colchester keeps them top of the Second Division. Brentford mark Ron Noades's election as Third Division manager of the month ("It only sets you up for a bigger fall when things go wrong," he sighs) by moving up to second in the Second Division behind Rotherham. In the Conference, Rushden & Diamonds' 5-0 win over Hayes gives them maximum points from six matches and an indecent goal difference.

From WSC 140 October 1998. What was happening this month