July 2001

Sunday 1 Liverpool might enter the Vieira bidding war – “Of course we’d be interested in a player like him,” says M Gérard – though Arsenal continue to insist through collectively gritted teeth that he’s not for sale. Man Utd chief executive Peter Kenyon denies claims that United have been snubbed by several transfer targets. “Listening to all the speculation you'd think we were a club on the precipice. We’ve not had one rejection.” Brazil lose another World Cup tie, 1-0 in Uruguay, which leaves them barely hanging on to South America’s fourth automatic qualifying place.

Monday 2 Stan Collymore blows his chances of a call-up for the England semi-professional squad by declining to join Boston Utd. Ipswich replace Arsenal-bound Richard Wright with Norwich keeper Scott Marshall who believes, in the time-honoured fashion, that he is joining “a massive club”. George Weah says he will retire from international football after being booed by Liberian fans following the team’s 2-1 home defeat by Ghana in a crucial World Cup qualifier. Former Liverpool manager Joe Fagan dies, aged 80.

Tuesday 3 Sol Campbell joins Arsenal, saying: “I could have earned more money by going abroad but I felt this was the place to be.” Despite having his bags packed and ready in the hallway, Sol’s new team-mate Patrick Vieira insists that he will turn up for training: “I am a profes­sional and would not let Mr Wenger or the club down.”X

Wednesday 4 “I hope this can put me in the frame for the World Cup,” says a very optimistic Jason Euell on joining Charlton from Wimbledon for £4.5 million. Arsenal threaten to contact UEFA’s busy complaints hotline if Man Utd attempt to reach a deal with Patrick Vieira’s agent, Marc Roger, who doesn’t hold a FIFA licence.

Thursday 5 FIFA unveil new transfer regulations to be implemented in September, with players being permitted to move after the end of the third year of their contracts. They will, however, face automatic four-month bans if they break contracts, a proviso that the international players’ union, Fifpro, is said to be ready to challenge in the European Court of Human Rights. This year’s Copa América in Colombia, variously called off, moved to Brazil and rescheduled for 2002 within the last week, is now back on again, but without Argentina and Canada, whose players have gone on holiday.

Saturday 7 Sven-Goran Eriksson suggests to a Swedish newspaper that he won’t see out his contract with England: “I don’t think I will be here for five years. I would love to go to Spain. Barcelona? Why not?” David Dein insists Patrick Vieira is not for sale: “He will be wearing an Arsenal shirt on August 18. Otherwise Arsène Wenger, myself and our board are wasting our time.” Hosts Germany win the women’s European Championship, beating Sweden 3-0 in the final.

Monday 9 An FA spokesman corrects the comments attributed to the England manager, who has just been named “Swede of the Year” by his government: “What Sven actually said was that he hoped to survive in the job and see out his contract, but in football you never know.” Zinedine Zidane joins Real Madrid from Juventus for a world record £48 million. Middlesbrough pay £42 million less for a seemingly embittered Gareth Southgate, who says: “Look at all the players Villa have let go since I joined. I think that says a lot.” Southampton sign Derby’s Rory Delap for £4 million.

Tuesday 10 Juan Veron arrives in Manchester to complete his medical and causes high excitement by wearing “7” shorts, David Beckham’s number. Calm, stay calm, breathe out: it’s just his training kit. “It was clear that my cast of supporters at Villa Park was clearly diminishing,” says David James on signing for West Ham. Barry Town record their best European result, beating Shamkir of Azerbaijan 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League first round tie. Celtic’s largest shareholder Dermot Desmond claims that the club is discussing a move into the English Premier League: “It makes economic sense. The ball is already rolling.”

Wednesday 11 Juan Veron is made official, for £28 million. “I have always been aware,” he says, “that Manchester United are one of the best clubs in the world.” It’s a red nose day at Villa Park as Peter Schmeichel arrives on a free from Portugal. David Platt leaves Forest to become England Under-21 manager. “I’m delighted for him,” says technical supremo Howard Wilkinson, suppressing a twitch. Carlisle manager Ian Atkins resigns and goes to Cardiff. The FA block the proposal to use play-offs to decide promotion from the Conference.

Friday 13 A 59-year-old Scot with a chequered disciplinary record receives a new five-year contract from Man Utd. “I’m delighted to be staying on as a consultant,” he says, aiming a discreet two fingers at alleged opponents on the board. Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic signs a short-term contract for his favourite club Hajduk Split, who claim that he’ll play in their Champions League qualifier against Ferencvaros.

Saturday 14 In the Intertoto, Villa score a goal in the last minute then concede another in losing 2-1 at Slaven Belupo. Newcastle beat Lokeren 4-0 in Belgium. Boudewijn Zenden confirms that he won’t be coming to Tyneside: “I have known Bobby Robson for a long time, but Newcastle are not the sort of club I am looking for.”

Monday 16 Patrick Vieira returns to Arsenal for pre-season training. Firm but fair Uncle Arsène is in forgiving mood: “I did not speak to Patrick about what happened because as far as I’m concerned it was just a story in a newspaper.” Anfield outcast Christian Ziege agrees to join Spurs, saying: “The fact that they play in London was decisive.” Wolves’ hopes of signing Stan Collymore receive a setback when his last club, Real Oviedo, claim that a buy-out clause in his contract means they’re entitled to £7 million.

Tuesday 17 Newcastle chairman Freddy Shepherd insists Kieron Dyer is not for sale despite the player’s plea to be allowed to join Leeds: “I reiterate that our ambitions more than match those of Kieron.” Canadian striker Tomasz Radzinski becomes the first person in a while to say “I’m excited about joining Everton” after completing a £4.5 million move from Anderlecht. From behind his sunglasses Fabrizio Ravanelli agrees “in principle” to join Derby. Bob Stubbs, one of the rare people to be described as “a close ally of Ken Bates”, is dismissed as chief executive of Wembley National Stadium Ltd.

Wednesday 18 No doubt to the dismay of their fans, Crystal Palace are considering a commercial tie-up with the Disney Corporation which would involve their becoming “Disney’s official soccer club in the UK”. Just think of the mascot possibilities. Shares in Leicester City go up and down like the fiddler’s elbow as a former director Gilbert Kinch (great name) announces a takeover bid for the club, then withdraws it. Millwall’s pre-season tour of Germany is likely to be cancelled after two matches are called off due to fears of crowd trouble; several travelling fans are arrested in “drink-related incidents”. Swedish defender Olof Mellberg is hailed as “a superb replacement for Southgate” by his new manager on joining Aston Villa for £5 million. Christian Karembeu leaves Middlesbrough for Olympiakos. “I need to be in the Champions League,” he says. Barry Town complete a 3-0 aggregate win over Shamkir and will now play Porto in the Champions League second qualifying round.

Thursday 19 Racehorse owners JP McManus and John Magnier, both close friends of keen punter Sir Alex, buy a 6.7 per cent holding in Man Utd and are believed be planning to acquire more. “This could be the beginning of a significant shift in power,” says a spokesman for the supporters’ group, Shareholders United. Glenn Roeder alleges that Newcastle are trying to unsettle Trevor Sinclair, for whom they have bid £6 million: “I have a great affinity for the club having played there but I’m very disappointed in them.” Patrick Vieira’s agent meets money-printing Real Madrid for transfer talks, while Arsenal file an official complaint with the FA alleging that Man Utd made an illegal approach. The FA are to give trials to a machine designed to help assistant referees spot offsides by use of prismed lights. Next up: referees with jetpacks.

Friday 20 Celtic will play Ajax in the Champions League third round qualifiers (“It’s a test,” says Martin O’Neill). Rangers face Maribor, then Fenerbahce (“Quite a test,” says Dick Advocaat) while Liverpool will play either Finnish or Israeli opponents. Former Crystal Palace defender Darren Pitcher loses his case for damages against Huddersfield Town, who were the opponents when a broken leg ended his career five years ago.

Saturday 21 Two goals from Lee Hendrie take Villa past plucky Slaven Belupo. Rennes of France will be their next Intertoto opponents. Eyal Berkovic leaves Celtic for Man City, his fifth home in six seasons. “I am pleased that I am finally going to a club that is warm and really wants me,” he says.

Sunday 22 Newcastle will face Munich 1860 in the next round of the Intertoto after completing a 5-0 aggregate win over Lokeren before a tournament record crowd of nearly 30,000. Preston’s pre-season training in Austria takes an odd turn when manager David Moyes is involved in a punch-up with two of his own players.

Monday 23 Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein denies that the signing of midfielder Junichi Inamoto from Japan is primarily a commercial move (“The team always comes first”) though the club hope to sell Japanese TV rights to their reserve matches for £10 million. Brazil’s atrocious run continues with a 2-0 defeat to Honduras in the quarter-finals of the Copa América.

Tuesday 24 Frank Leboeuf finally wrenches himself free from sobbing Chelsea team-mates and leaves for Marseille. Fabien Barthez once again shows that he’s a character with a capital “C” by playing as an outfield substitute during Man Utd’s tour match against Singapore. Fabien’s new understudy will be Northern Ireland international Roy Carroll, signed from Wigan.

Wednesday 25 A good day for Newcastle, who agree a deal for striker Laurent Robert from PSG and win 3-2 in Munich in the first leg of their Intertoto “semi-final”. Villa get a last-minute goal in losing 2-1 at Rennes, Darius Vassell set up by love handle-free David Ginola, of whom John Gregory says “he’s got that extra something about him” as though surprised. In the Champions League, Rangers win 3-0 in Maribor. Barry Town lose 8-0 to Porto.

Friday 27 Gérard Houllier claims that he may not release Liverpool players for England’s “stupid” friendly with Holland three days before the start of the season. Having reduced Derby fans to nervous wrecks with his indecision, Fabrizio Ravanelli finally signs up. Luke Young joins Charlton from Spurs for £4 million. Everton try to sell Michael Ball to Middlesbrough and are keen on Paul Ince in part exchange: two reasons for season tickets to be returned. Players’ agent Dennis Roach could lose his licence after being charged by the FA with accepting unauthorised payments from transfers.

Saturday 28 Livingston win their first match in the Scottish Premier League, beating Hearts 2-1. Celtic and Rangers both win 3-0, the latter with an all-foreign starting XI.

Sunday 29 Colombia win the Copa América for the first time, beating Mexico 1-0 in the final. Another one of Sir Alex’s pals, Formula One owner Eddie Jordan, may take a stake in Man Utd. He says: “I’m always interested in things that have a bit of flair and fun. And football is fun.” Hold that thought.

From WSC 175 September 2001. What was happening this month