July 2004

Thursday 1 Ottmar Hitzfeld turns down the job of German national coach. Bradford survive: their administrators are in talks with “interested parties”. MK Dons, meanwhile, prepare for their headlong dive through, uh, League One by coming out of administration. James Milner is set to join Newcastle while his ex-team-mate Mark Viduka completes a medical at Boro (peevishness may not show up in the tests).

Monday 5 Chelsea withdraw from the Rooney bid race – “We already have players with those qualities,” says José Mourinho – leaving Manchester United with a free run. Tipped to join first Spurs then Liverpool, Edgar Davids now seems set for Stamford Bridge. Boston Utd may offer Paul Gascoigne a coaching job.

Tuesday 6 In the wake of signing up Wayne Rooney as a columnist, the Sun attempts an apology for its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster in 1989, which led to a huge drop in its sales on Merseyside. Meanwhile Rooney’s representatives stir on their sunbeds and claim they will “respond soon” to Everton’s offer of a new five-year deal worth £50,000 a week. Amazingly Glenn Hoddle is on a four-man shortlist for the job of France coach, though Jean Tigana is favourite. Holland are gaffer-less, too, after Dick Advocaat resigns.

Thursday 8 Arsène Wenger says he turned down an approach to become Germany’s new coach. After terrifying rumours that Bryan Robson might be getting the job, Peter Taylor is reappointed as England Under-21 coach but stays as Hull City manager. Peter Crouch leaves Aston Villa for Southampton.

Friday 9 Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink joins Mark Viduka and Michael Reiziger at Middlesbrough. Spurs are to sign Sean Davis from Fulham and Porto midfielder Pedro Mendes, in part-exchange for misfit striker Helder Postiga. Chelsea offer £22 million for Marseille’s Didier Drogba.

Saturday 10 Fulham’s first pre-season friendly back at Craven Cottage is held up in bizarre circumstances, as referee Peter Walton walks out at half-time in protest at the number of substitutions – 28 by the end – rather than break new FIFA guidelines restricting both sides to six changes. The game, reclassified as an “exhibition match”, resumes with Fulham’s kit man running the line. Ricardo Fuller’s move from Preston to Portsmouth falls through after he fails a medical.

Sunday 11 The News of the World claims that Wayne Rooney has written to the Everton board demanding to see their financial records before agreeing to sign a new five-year contract, suggesting that, besides football, he also has a prodigious mastery of balance sheets and FSA accounting procedures. José Mourinho’s new code of conduct for his Chelsea players appears to include fines for lateness, a clause stating that players cannot smoke in the dressing room and a ban on ordering hotel room service, the brute. Patrick Vieira seems to have emerged as the latest love interest for Florentino Pérez, after the Real Madrid president is voted in for another term.

Tuesday 13 FIFA announce that the substitutions rule limiting teams to only six changes per game will only apply to international friendlies. Steve Bruce calls Everton’s £2.5m bid for Robbie Savage “laughable and derisory”. Marseille turn down Chelsea’s initial bid for Didier Drogba.

Thursday 15 Alan Shearer threatens to leave if not guaranteed a first-team place at Newcastle, who have been linked with James Beattie and Patrick Kluivert: “I don’t want my last season to be an anticlimax.” Teddy Sheringham joins West Ham. Hernán Crespo goes on loan to AC Milan from Chelsea. Robbie Savage signs a new deal with Birmingham, saying: “Other than the top five, I don’t see any other team progressing like we are.”

Friday 16
Trevor Birch resigns as Everton chief executive, seemingly after the board rejected his proposal that they consider selling up to new investors. As expected, Patrick Vieira is being firmly linked with a move to Real Madrid, though Arsène insists he is not for sale: “The idea of a football club is not to have massive amounts of money in the bank but to have a good team on the pitch.” Firmly out of favour with Graeme Souness, Andy Cole is to leave Blackburn for Fulham.

Sunday 18
Colonel Gaddafi may make a bid for Crystal Palace, according to the club’s owner Simon Jordan. As if a multi-millionaire with a dubious past would be allowed to buy a Premiership club – ha ha! Chelsea are to pay £8m for Benfica midfielder Tiago. Dunfermline hope to sign Diego Maradona’s son, Diego Jr, from Napoli. The News of the World claim that Sven-Göran Eriksson had an affair with Faria Alam, the secretary of FA director David Davies.

Monday 19 Chairman Bill Kenwright may face a challenge for control of Everton from director Paul Gregg who says: “You can’t run a multi-million pound business on passion. We need an opportunity to bring in fresh investment.” A “drug-crazed maniac carrying petrol” is arrested outside David Beckham’s Hertfordshire mansion, possibly having mistaken it for a flash garage. Gary Speed leaves Newcastle for Bolton with his agent claiming that he’s been “swayed by the feel-good factor”.

Tuesday 20 The Football Association’s lawyers issue a statement on behalf of Faria Alam saying that there is “no truth whatsoever in the suggestion that our client and Mr Eriksson are having, or have had, a sexual relationship”. Djibril Cissé, a long-agreed arrival from Auxerre, finally checks in at Anfield.

Wednesday 21 “It’s an honour to play for such a passionate audience,” says Patrick Kluivert about Newcastle, after Barcelona agree to continue paying half his weekly wage of, ulp, £80,000. Alan Pardew is hopeful of signing Sergei Rebrov, still under contract to Spurs but recently with Fenerbahce: “He wants to come. He has a feel for the club.” A Celtic fan is to sue El-Hadji Diouf for spitting on him during Liverpool’s UEFA Cup match at Parkhead last year. “It’s ridiculous,” says a Liverpool spokesman. Sven appears to have split up with Nancy, who’s had more than enough of his two-timing ways, dammit.

Thursday 22 Today’s moves include Ray Parlour to Middlesbrough, Claus Jensen and Tomasz Radzinski to Fulham, and Norwich getting Thomas Helveg from AC Milan. Sir Alex is mightily displeased that Cristiano Ronaldo and Gabriel Heinze have been called up to their countries’ Olympic squads. Of the latter he says: “Here’s a lad who may be denied an opportunity for a career at Manchester United. He may never get a game.”

Friday 23 Warming up for a season of mind-numbing bitchfests, José Mourinho responds to Sir Alex’s earlier comment that money wouldn’t buy success for Chelsea: “Porto, with ten per cent of Man United’s budget, beat them. So he’s absolutely correct. Money buys players but not a team.” Everton dismiss as “totally ridiculous” a claim by Portugal coach Felipe Scolari that he was approached about becoming their manager after Euro 2004.

Saturday 24 Real Madrid target Patrick Vieira arrives for pre-season training with Arsenal in Austria “set to slam down a transfer request” according to the Mirror. FIFA tell Alex Ferguson to stop complaining about his players going to the Olympics. “Famous players play in lots of competitions,” reveals a waspish spokesman. “That is why they are famous. We will leave Ferguson to his mind.” Frank Lampard signs a new contract at Chelsea, featuring a new kind of image-rights clause that could earn him up to £160,000 a week including merchandise and sponsorship rights. Frank Lampard action figure, anyone?

Sunday 25 No badge-kissing yet for Alan Smith as he misses a penalty on his Man Utd debut against Bayern Munich in the ChampionsWorld Series in Chicago. In the News of the World, emails from Faria Alam show that she did in fact have affairs with Sven-Göran Eriksson and FA chief executive Mark Palios, despite denials. Former Arsenal player and recent Newcastle target Marc Overmars retires from football due to persistent knee problems. Brazil beat Argentina on penalties in the Copa America final in Peru, after Adriano’s late equaliser.

Monday 26 Rafael Benítez makes his first signing as Liverpool manager, defender Josemi joining for £2m from Málaga. Bill Kenwright and Paul Gregg meet at Goodison Park for “showdown talks”, presumably over which of them gets to leave next and who has to lock up the boardroom. Steve McClaren seems to be favourite to replace Sven if the FA decide it might be a convenient time to get the England coach off the payroll. Wayne Rooney’s fiancée Coleen McLoughlin is reported to have broken off their engagement after newspaper claims that Rooney had sex with a prostitute in December 2002.

Tuesday 27
The FA are to stage an inquiry into the “misleading information” that led to their denying reports of Sven’s latest affair. A conversation Sven had with Faria Alam’s boss, David Davies, is thought to be key. Newcastle are to pay £2.5m for Nicky Butt. Fulham sign Senegal midfielder Pape Bouba Diop from Lens. Chelsea take their pre-season spending to £70m with the signing of defender Ricardo Carvalho from Porto for £20m. Paul Gascoigne becomes a player-coach at Boston. “It’ll be great to have him at the club because he is the type of person everyone can learn from,” says manager Steve Evans, wearing a pair of comedy breasts and burping into a microphone. The government announces that the inquiry into plans for Brighton’s new stadium will be reopened. Council leader Ken Bodfish says: “If we have to do it all again to convince Mr Prescott, then we’re happy to do so.” Players sent off this season will receive an immediate one-match ban.

Wednesday 28 Several senior Man Utd players fly out to the America after ChampionsWorld Series organisers express unhappiness at the under-strength team fielded against Bayern. Sven adjutant Tord Grip is amazed that there might be a sacking over the Faria Alam Affair affair: “It’s ridiculous. This has nothing to do with football.”

Thursday 29 Gaze firm, specs adjusted, Sven goes on the attack, issuing a statement claiming, contrary to the words of an FA spokesman, that he had not “categorically confirmed or denied” a relationship with Faria Alam. Spanish newspapers continue to claim that Patrick Vieira is to sign for Real Madrid. Marco van Basten, currently on the staff at Ajax, is to be the new Dutch national coach.

Friday 30 Bill Kenwright calls off an Everton board meeting at which he was to be asked to step down. “The continuing delay is frustrating the club’s future,” says his board rival Paul Gregg, who promises to provide David Moyes with transfer funds if he takes over. Sky are to show extended highlights of every Premiership match on their digital service on Saturday evenings as well as a game of the day show in full, before the BBC’s Match of the Day. Liverpool will face Grazer AK of Austria in their Champions League qualifier. Man Utd play Dinamo Bucharest or Zilina of Slovakia. Rangers face CSKA Moscow or Neftchi Baku, champions of Azerbaijan. Championship-refusenik Henri Camara joins Celtic on loan from Wolves.

Saturday 31 It is claimed that the FA communications head Colin Gibson offered details of Sven’s private life to the News of the World in exchange for their not writing about chief executive Mark Palios’s involvement with Faria Alam. Sol Campbell will miss the first six weeks of the season with an Achilles injury which Arsène claims had gone undetected by England medical staff. Newcastle announce they will not be renewing Sir Bobby’s contract, which expires at the end of this season: “We fervently hope he can bow out with a trophy,” says chairman Freddy Shepherd.

From WSC 211 September 2004. What was happening this month