July 2005

Friday 1 Sir Bobby’s interpretation of the Glazers’ outlook is rejected by Mark Longden of Man Utd fans group IMUSA: “I would like them to explain how they intend to pay off £500 million-worth of debt on profits of £19m. You do not need to be a financial expert to realise something big has to happen.” Middlesbrough’s new signing, Austrian defender Emanuel Pogatetz, may receive a six-month ban for an exceptionally violent tackle while on loan with Spartak Moscow; Boro reject Spurs’ £6m offer for Stewart Downing. George Burley is the new manager of Hearts. Good news for Wayne Rooney and Dennis Wise among others as FIFA scrap the ten-yards dissent rule. Greater Manchester Police reignite their old row with Wigan over an unpaid policing bill of £273,000, threatening to withdraw the JJB Stadium safety certificate unless it is paid by August.

Saturday 2 Liverpool buy Boudewijn Zenden from Middlesbrough but may be set to lose Steven Gerrard who withdraws from contract talks and supposedly has a public row with Rafa Benítez over the club’s failure to make him an improved offer. Man Utd reject a Real Madrid approach for Cristiano Ronaldo with no-mates Michael Owen again suggested as a makeweight. Argentina win the World Under-20 Championship for the fifth time, beating Nigeria 2-1.

Monday 4 Craig Bellamy is given a week off by Newcastle to organise a move before he has to turn up for training and be punched by Alan Shearer. Goalkeeper Jose Reina is among Liverpool’s three new signings from the Spanish league. Midfielder Darren Carter finally goes from Birmingham to West Brom, his protracted move apparently held up by a row between Bryan Robson and WBA chairman Jeremy Peace over agents’ fees. Harry Redknapp clarifies the role assigned to Sir Clive Woodward once he is done with the British and Irish Lions’ worst ever overseas tour: “He will coming in as technical director, not director of football – I certainly don’t feel threatened by him.”

Tuesday 5 “We don’t need more money,” says Rafa Benítez as Liverpool reject a £32m Chelsea bid for Steven Gerrard, who is said to have turned down £100,000 a week and requested a move. Hammers fan Paul Konchesky joins his boyhood team from Charlton and will be joined by Cardiff centre-backs Danny
Gabbidon and James Collins. After a four-year
investigation, Northumbria police decide that Nolberto Solano has no case to answer over acquiring a Greek passport, which enabled him to get EU citizenship in 2001. Veteran Nigerian defender Taribo West, said by some to be in his mid-40s, joins Plymouth. Police will not charge George Best over recent assault allegations.

Wednesday 6
Steven Gerrard decides to stay at Liverpool because, according to Rick Parry, “he realises how much the club means to him”. Sepp Blatter says FIFA would not oppose a Great Britain football team taking part in the 2012 London Olympics. “I always said I was proud to wear the black-and-white stripes,” says Hugo Viana who will return to Newcastle because Sporting Lisbon, with whom he was on loan, can’t afford his fee. Hernan Crespo is also expected back at Chelsea but will probably want to train in an AC Milan tracksuit.

Thursday 7 “This is about Craig Bellamy being happy and me showing people I’m not a destructive influence,” says the eponymous slack-shouldered Welshman on joining Blackburn in preference to Celtic, Villa or Everton. Luis Figo’s agent claims that Real Madrid’s demand for a £2m fee is holding up a transfer to Liverpool. Frank Arnesen will start his job as Chelsea’s sporting director and canteen washer-up on September 1.

Friday 8 Juventus stand in for the customary Real Madrid as Patrick Vieria’s summer suitors but this time it seems that Arsenal are fully prepared to sell. Meanwhile, they may be reported for making an illegal approach to Sevilla’s Brazilian striker Julio Baptista who met David Dein and Arsène Wenger behind a privet hedge in São Paulo last weekend. Julian Joachim drops down two divisions to join his hometown club Boston United who deny reports that he will be
paid £4,000 a week. Newcastle sell Darren Ambrose to Charlton. Stockport County are taken over by their supporters’ trust.

Saturday 9 Liverpool are to spend £5m on Valencia’s Malian midfielder Mohammed Sissoko who had seemed bound for Everton. Meanwhile, Steven Gerrard is relieved to be cheered during his side’s friendly at Wrexham: “I was worried about the fans’ reaction but it was understandable, they were close to losing their best player.” Xabi Alonso declined to comment. Ronaldinho may be offered £300,000 a week to stay with Barcelona after reports that Chelsea are prepared to meet his contract buy-out clause of £100m.

Monday 11 Harry Redknapp is annoyed with Celtic’s Gordon Strachan for apparently trying to get several of his Southampton team on the cheap: “How many more players and when does this end? I’m getting the needle.” Wigan may have to sell striker Nathan Ellington who has turned down a new contract with one year left on his deal. The SPL uphold their ban on Dunfermline’s plastic pitch but the club could take the issue to court.

Tuesday 12 “Is José Mourinho the only one who can look at the fixtures and find something very strange?” asks the Chelsea manager, unhappy his team will have to play away after several European ties this season while Arsenal have mostly home games. Mourinho may also be in bother for suggesting that David Dein should not hold a position within the FA. Southampton tell Liverpool that they want £8m for Peter Crouch. In a rare instance of cash being flashed outside the Premiership, Reading spend a club record £1m on Bristol City striker Leroy Lita.

Wednesday 13 Olympique Lyon’s president says they have turned down an “extraordinary offer” from Chelsea for midfielder Michael Essien but the latter is sat by the front door with bags packed: “In my head I am already at Chelsea. I am dreaming about it.” The FA describe José’s comments yesterday as “unnecessary, unhelpful, bad for the image of the game and inaccurate”. “I don’t think I had to prove anything,” says steely-eyed Steven Gerrard as he single-handedly destroys Total Network Solutions’ Champions League dream with a hat-trick in the Anfield aces’ 3-0 romp. In the all-Irish tie, Glentoran lose 2-1 at home to Shelbourne.

Thursday 14 Patrick Vieira joins Juventus for £14m and says: “I had the feeling I needed to grow and meet a new challenge.” And, you know, we’ve all been there. Newcastle immediately attach a £20m price tag to Jermaine Jenas (behind his right ear) in anticipation of an approach and, after a whole lot of faffing about, they finally sign Inter’s Turkish midfielder Emre. Rhyl and Cork City both smite Lithuanian opponents in the UEFA Cup; Linfield win too, 1-0 against Ventspils of Latvia, and Longford Town beat Camarthen of Wales 2-0.

Friday 15 Chelsea offer £18m for Shaun Wright-Phillips but Staurt Pearce is hoping to hang on to him: “When I mentioned the bid he just asked me what time we kicked off tonight at Tranmere.” Mikel Arteta finally leaves Real Socieded for Everton. Charlton borrow Alexei Smertin for the season. FC United of Manchester will play their league fixtures at Gigg Lane, Bury rather than Droylsden. Dunfermline call off the lawyers and agree to install a grass pitch. The start of Serie A may be delayed if Messina and Torino appeal against being relegated for the poor state of their finances.

Saturday 16 Ashley Cole will force himself to agree a one-year contract extension with Arsenal that will nudge his weekly wage up to a piffling £60,000. Sir Alex agrees with José’s complaint about the fixture list suiting Arsenal: “I’ve been saying that for seven years and no one ever listened to me.” Graeme Souness has apparently heard that Nicolas Anelka is “desperate” to join Newcastle from Fenerbahce, though he has been taken in by hoax callls before, of course. Rio Ferdinand, still holding out for £120,000, is barracked by Man Utd fans throughout their friendly at Clyde. Owen Hargreaves turns down a move to Middlesbrough. Everton are nearly into double figures for summer rejections after being turned down by Spanish striker Javi Guerrero and Israeli midfielder Yossi Benayoun, who is to join West Ham.

Sunday 17 Newcastle win 3-1 away to Dubnica of Slovakia in their first Intertoto match. “I’m a little frustrated with Shaun,” says Stuart Pearce after the player changes his mind about joining Chelsea, who will buy him for £21m. City immediately snap up Andy Cole from Fulham and are expected to bid for Freddie Kanouté. Portsmouth’s new Zambian striker Collins Mbesuma can’t wait to get started: “I will work hard to make an impact to ensure I move on to play for Manchester United.”

Monday 18 Spurs offer £14m for Julio Baptista but Sevilla won’t be selling. Liverpool are set to offload Jerzy Dudek and Milan Baros who are left out of their Champions League tie in Wales but they may face competition for Peter Crouch with Middlesbrough and Charlton likely to bid. Sir Alex receives a formal warning from the FA – it will be detention next time – over his comments in April that United’s lack of penalties was “sinister”. Cambridge United will be able to come out of administration after reaching an agreement with creditors.

Tuesday 19 Liverpool sign Peter Crouch for £7m (“It was nothing to do with me,” says Harry Redknapp) then complete a 6-0 aggregate Champions League win over TNS. Celtic fans may be surprised to hear that they’ve acquired full-back Adam Virgo from Brighton. The player himself is shocked: “When the manager told me what club it was my jaw hit the floor.” Man Utd round off an odd day in the transfer market by buying 22-year-old Stoke goalkeeper Ben Foster who has never played a first-team game. Livingston take the Scottish FA to court over their investigation into the club’s signing of Hassan Kachloul outside the transfer window, for which they were recently fined.

Wednesday 20 Sir Alex is unhappy as Rio is again booed by Man Utd supporters, this time at Peterborough. “Our fans have been the bedrock of this club and we need their support unilaterally behind everyone.” Wigan will stage home games at the JJB after paying, “under protest”, their outstanding police bill. Spurs defend their involvement in the Peace Cup tournament in South Korea, which is being organised by the the religious cult known as the Moonies. Everton finally manage to sign someone – full-back Alessandro Pistone whom they let go last month. Having been linked with Manchester United, Michael Ballack announces that he intends to stay at Bayern. Shelbourne knock Glentoran out of the Champions League 6-2 on aggregate.

Thursday 21 Football League chairman Brian Mawhinney is to call for a regulatory system to govern football agents in the wake of an official report showing that the 72 League clubs spent £7.8m in intermediaries’ fees last season. The FA will refuse to follow FIFA’s new interpretation of the offside rule, which states that players will be flagged for interfering with play only if they touch the ball. Suddenly short of an aggressive, balding Frenchman, Arsenal may replace Patrick Vieira with Olivier Dacourt, who is available from Roma. Dutch goalkeeper Sander Westerveld joins Portsmouth from Real Sociedad while Paul Telfer, no less, becomes Gordon Strachan’s sixth signing for Celtic.

Friday 22 Joey Barton is sent home from Man City’s trip to Thailand after an altercation in a bar with a 15-year-old Everton fan (whose team are also taking part in the Premiership Asia Cup). Newcastle have bids for Luis Boa Morte and Nicolas Anelka rejected but if you think Freddy Shepherd will back down now, you’ve got a surprise coming, buster. Gazing southwards with a wistful expression, Rangers manager Alex McLeish claims that TV networks may demand that the Old Firm be allowed into the Premiership: “Global television could dictate an immediate change of direction if they were to threaten to withdraw financial support.” No Millwall fans will be at Elland Road for the televised match on the first Championship weekend – the club return their tickets after Leeds say they will only admit away supporters who have travelled on official coaches.

Saturday 23
Internazionale cancel their pre-season tour of England, on which they were apparently planning to travel by London bus and Underground train as far as Leicester. “I want to make Bolton a giant, like Real Madrid,” says ambitious Mexican striker Jared Borgetti after completing a medical at the Reebok. In the Intertoto, two goals from Alan Shearer give Newcastle a 5-1 aggregate win over Dubnica. A sell-out crowd of 3,300 sees AFC Wimbledon beat FC United 1-0.

Sunday 24 Roy Keane is said to have been excluded from Man Utd’s Asian tour after a public row with Sir Alex over the facilities at the club’s training camp in Portugal. Inter reverse their decision to scrap their tour after discussions with the sports minister Richard Caborn and his Italian counterpart, though Francesco Toldo and Juan-Sebastian Veron will still stay away. Harry Redknapp denies reports that he is set to resign: “Suddenly, there’s a headline saying ‘Harry must obey Sir Clive’, it’s all rubbish.”

Monday 25 Darius Vassell, who would have been out of contract next summer, is to leave Villa for Man City. Newcastle confirm that they have received an offer for president Sir John Hall’s 28.5 per cent stake in the club. If the unnamed bidders succeed they will be near to the 30 per cent required to institute a takeover. Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon wants to share his theory as to why Arsène and Sir Alex are prone to criticising: “It is born out of hypocrisy and fundamental insecurity. They are trying to blow us away from our plans and stop us winning.” During Real Madrid’s tour match in Japan against Tokyo Verdy, David Beckham and two colleagues pile into their opponents’ dressing room at half-time to complain about being spat on. “Only handbags,” says David  later.

Tuesday 26 Liverpool concede an early goal in their Champions League qualifying tie away to Kaunas of Lithuania but go on to win 3-1. Spurs’ immense first team squad is to be swelled further by the arrival of Edgar Davids: “We need his 100 per cent winning mentality,” says Martin Jol. The Iranian national team’s match at Millwall is called off after fears that it was to be targeted by extreme right groups. Welsh Premier League side Carmarthen Town sign a convicted hooligan, Craig Hughes, who is serving a jail sentence for football violence in Cardiff but will get a release permit to play matches. Having apparently turned down reality TV shows, Ron Atkinson is to make a media comeback as a sports phone-in host on Yorkshire-based Real Radio. “He’s a colourful character and will get stuck into some lively debates,” says a station spokesman.

Wednesday 27 “This is the worst night of my football career,” says Gordon Strachan, a shadow of his usual chippy self, as Celtic are humiliated 5‑0 by Artmedia Bratislava in the first leg of their Champions League tie. Irish champions Shelbourne draw 0‑0 with Steaua Bucharest. Newcastle lose 2‑1 in La Coruña in the Intertoto. Steve Claridge is sacked by Millwall, seemingly after a row with stand-in chairman Theo Paphitis; Colin Lee takes over. Joey Barton is fined two months’ wages by Man City for his hotel altercation in Thailand.

Thursday 28 Carmarthen and Rhyl are the first Welsh sides to win European ties since 2001 after UEFA Cup victories over Longford Town and Atlantas of Lithuania, respectively. Linfield and Cork City are also through. Man City fans may set up a new club, Fans’ Football Club City, in protest at escalating admission costs.

Saturday 30 Michael Owen’s hopes of rescue from the Real Madrid bench appear to rest with Man Utd, who may offer £12 million. The opening day of the SPL turns into another lively occasion for Celtic, who take a 3‑1 lead at Motherwell but then go behind, only to equalise in the last minute for a 4‑4 draw. Three of Hearts’ new overseas signings score in their 4‑2 win at Kilmarnock.

From WSC 223 September 2005. What was happening this month