June 2001

Saturday 2 Germany drop World Cup points in a 2-2 draw with Finland, who had been two up at half-time. Northern Ireland suffer a fifth successive defeat, 1-0 to Bulgaria (“It was Sunday park defending,” groans Sammy McIlroy) while Ryan Giggs misses an open goal in Wales’ 2-1 home defeat by Poland. The Rep of Ireland are held 1-1 at home by Portugal. The two sides’ pre-match sniping is rounded off by Portuguese coach Antonio Oliveira making a rude gesture at Mick McCarthy at the final whistle.

Tuesday 5 Bryan Robson leaves Middlesbrough, who are about to appoint the holidaying Steve McLaren in his place. Chairman Steve Gibson pays accurate tribute: “No one will forget what Bryan Robson and Viv Anderson have done here.” England Under-21s lose 3-1 in Greece and have two players dismissed, one of whom, John Terry, is wearing a very unfashionable headband.

Wednesday 6 Greece 0 England 2, Scholes and Beckham the scorers. Svennis sets a record for a new England manager with his fifth successive win. Wales get a draw in Ukraine, Northern Ireland concede two late goals in losing 3-1 to the Czechs, the Rep of Ireland win 2-0 in Estonia.

Thursday 7 Five Northern Ireland players arrested after a bar fracas in Prague are released without charge. Three England fans face up to 15 months in jail in Greece after being convicted of public order offences, but are allowed to leave the country on bail.

Friday 8 Chuckling all the while, Football League chairman vote almost unanimously against the proposal that two clubs be promoted from the Conference each season. “I don’t know what we have to do to get this idea accepted,” says Conference chief executive John Moules. Third Division clubs agree to drop their planned court action against Chesterfield.

Sunday 10 Publicity hound Terry Venables claims to have been approached about becoming manager of Greece: “It would be mischievous to lead them out against England, wouldn’t it?” The Greek FA deny having had any contact with him. Giovanni Di Stefano, a former associate of Serbian war criminal Arkan, is aiming to buy a minority stake in Norwich City. He has plans: “I would hope to bring in players from the Balkans, Italy and Iraq, with the coach’s permission.” Gus Poyet joins Spurs, saying: “There was no place for me any more at the new Chelsea.”

Monday 11 Preston manager David Moyes rejects an offer from Southampton. Harry Redknapp, clearly not a first choice for the Saints, appears to be angling for a return to West Ham: “Perhaps I was too stubborn in my meeting with the chairman and he was a bit too hasty.” Paul Jewell is the new manager of Wigan. Carrying the can for the Wembley fiasco, Kate Hoey is sacked as sports minister and replaced by Richard Caborn.

Tuesday 12 “The chairman’s vision excited me,” says Steve McClaren on taking over at Middlesbrough, who also confirm that television’s Terry Venables has severed his ties with them. Frank Lampard Jnr will become the latest player to move for a eight-figure sum, joining Chelsea for, ulp, £11 million.

Wednesday 13 Twenty-four referees, and 48 assistants, will go full-time next season under a new FA scheme on a basic salary of £33,000 pa. “I would like to see this improve our match officials’ standing on the international stage,” says Adam Crozier, speaking at the launch of Graham Poll’s male scent range. Impish FIFA president Sepp Blatter avoids a vote of no-confidence at a meeting called to discuss the collapse of marketing company ISL.

Thursday 14 Glenn Roeder is promoted from the coaching staff to be West Ham manager. Joe Cole is thrilled: “All the lads love him.” The aurally enhanced Francis Jeffers joins Arsenal for£10 million. “He’s the fox in the box that we’ve been looking for,” says Arsène. The Conference is to introduce a play-off from next season with the champions meeting the winners of a knockout involving the clubs placed second to fifth. Former QPR director Andrew Ellis makes a bid for the club, which he wants to relocate to Heathrow. Ellis was previously involved with plans to move QPR to Milton Keynes.

Friday 15 Formerly tipped to replace Howard Wilkinson as Under-21 manager, Peter Taylor is instead to leave the England set-up, his place being taken by the other Svennis stand-in, Steve McLaren. Emotional volcano Fabrizio Ravanelli may join Derby on a free transfer. John Moston gets an OBE for services to the sheepskin coat industry.

Sunday 17 Former sports minister Kate Hoey claims that the criteria used to asses work permits for foreign players were relaxed in order to help England’s 2006 World Cup bid. The PFA concur: “The changes that the government made opened the way for cheap labour, with some foreign imports possibly being exploited,” says spokesman Mick McGuire.

Monday 18 Sol Campbell is said to be ready to sign for Barcelona now they have qualified for the Champions League. His would-be team-mate Mark Overmars thinks that this is a good idea: “Sol should not go to Arsenal. He knows that there will be a lot of anger about that.” “He is a leader and still hungry,” says Peter Taylor of his new signing from Chelsea, Dennis Wise. Scunthorpe chairman Keith Wagstaff resigns after publication of a letter sent to a supporter in which he criticises United manager Brian Laws for being “tactically naive”.

Tuesday 19 Arsenal pay £8.5 million for Rangers’ Dutch midfielder Giovanni van Bronkhorst. “Villa have bigger potential than Ipswich,” says Hassan Kachloul on deciding which team to leave Southampton for. Norwegian midfielder John-Arne Riise signs for Liverpool in preference to Fulham. Stuart Pearce is Kevin Keegan’s first buy for Man City. “He’s a competitor,” chirps his new boss, miming a waist-high tackle.

Wednesday 20 Paolo Di Canio criticises the West Ham board for “going against my advice” in appointing Glenn Roeder. However: “This is Glenn’s big chance and I will be fighting tooth and nail alongside him.” Newcastle are allowed into the fabled Intertoto after Spanish club Malaga withdraw. “Everyone’s buzzing,” says Bobby Robson, tapping the side of his head.

Thursday 21 Patrick Vieira insists that he will leave Arsenal this summer: “They have had great players before me and some will come after me. It is is not the end of the world.” Wimbledon shelve plans to redevelop the greyhound stadium in their home borough of Merton. “I haven’t come here to retire,” says Harry Redknapp on becoming Portsmouth’s director of football. The FA deny that they are looking to replace Howard Wilkinson as Under-21 coach, insisting that the removals van turned up by mistake.

Saturday 23 No successes for the British and Irish clubs competing in the first qualifying round of the Intertoto Cup, though Dundee are aggrieved by their 5-2 defeat by FK Sartid of Yugoslavia, which included a contentious penalty and the dismissal of midfielder Fabian Caballero. “The referee was the worst ever. We will complain to UEFA,” says manager Ivano Bonetti. Aston Villa demand £5 million for the unsettled David James. Feyenoord goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek threatens legal action against new crisis club Arsenal after they pull out of a deal to buy him, in favour of going after Ipswich’s Richard Wright. Eric Cantona denies he is about to take up a coaching role at Old Trafford: “I am very happy travelling the world and playing beach soccer.”

Sunday 24 Patrick Vieira stamps his foot. “Arsenal have tried to renegotiate my current contract but I have told them repeatedly that I’m not interested.” Juventus are said to have agreed a pre-contract with Vieira’s agent pending their sale of Zinedine Zidane to Real Madrid. An investigation into credit schemes operated by Premiership clubs reveals that Leeds are the only ones not to charge interest on season tickets paid for in instalments. Villa and Middlesbrough are the worst offenders, charging 29.8 per cent annually.

Monday 25 Chelsea beat off a late bid from Man Utd to sign Emmanuel Petit for £7.5 million in what managing director Colin Hutchinson describes mysteriously as a “bomb-proof” deal. FC Copenhagen, lately deserted by Roy Hodgson, are interested in appointing Bryan Robson: “We’re in Europe and need a big name,” says a club official. Should someone have a word? Stan Collymore may be about to revive his career with Conference club Boston Utd. “We are optimistic,” says their chairman.

Tuesday 26 “Gordon was disappointed,” sighs Craig Bellamy on leaving Coventry for Newcastle. The world’s worst post-match interviewee, Gerry Francis, will soon be muttering at the floor on behalf of Bristol Rovers, whom he rejoins as manager ten years after quitting for… QPR. A dozen Serie A players are banned for a year for carrying forged passports. Juan Veron is cleared but still faces charges of knowingly submitting false papers to obtain an EU passport. Still no news on the FA’s enquiries into the alleged Greekness of Nolberto Solano.

Wednesday 27 The Copa America, due to start in Colombia on July 10, is suspended following the kidnapping of the tournament co-ordinator, Herman Mejia. England women’s team lose 4-0 to Sweden in the European championship. The forgotten prisoner of Villa Park, Gareth Southgate, now hopes to be sprung by Celtic.

Thursday 28 The Copa America is to be moved, possibly to Brazil, despite the release of the hostage. “Taking away the tournament from Colombia is the biggest terrorist act,” says the country’s president. Swinging bachelor Dwight Yorke retires from playing for Trinidad after being left out of their World Cup squad for the match with Jamaica. West Ham dismiss a “laughable” bid from Fulham for Frédéric Kanouté.

Friday 29 Howard Wilkinson agrees to step down as England Under-21 manager but will stay on as FA technical co-ordinator. “These changes are about ensuring that the FA is focused on providing the best coaching possible,” says Adam Crozier, putting the gun back in his drawer. Stuart Gray is given the Southampton manager’s job. “A comparable appointment to this one would be David O’Leary at Leeds,” says his chuffed chairman Rupert Lowe. Man Utd are said to have agreed a fee with Lazio for Juan Veron, who seems unsure: “I’m not ruling out staying in Italy.” Mustapha Hadji joins Villa with Julian Joachim going to Coventry in part exchange.

Saturday 30 Bayern Munich announce that Sol Campbell is “too expensive” for them, leaving Inter as his most likely destination. Spurs deny reports that they might offer £30 million for Milan’s Andrei Shevchenko. England’s women bow out of the European Championship, losing 3-0 to Germany. The poor old Copa America is to be put back to 2002, but will still be staged in Colombia, giving potential kidnappers a whole year to cook up a plan.

From WSC 174 August 2001. What was happening this month