October 2004

Saturday 2 Arsenal rampage past Charlton, 4-0 at Highbury. “He’s the most exciting player anywhere,” says Alan Curbishley of two-goal Thierry. Everton’s good run comes to an end with a 1-0 defeat to Spurs in a bad-tempered game highlighted by Jamie Redknapp’s clogging of Tim Cahill, which may be referred to the FA. “It was a momentous effort,” says Gary Megson, surrounded by streamers and popping corks, as West Brom win a match, beating Bolton 2-1. Wigan top the Championship once more by beating Rotherham 2-0 while Reading are held at home by Burnley. QPR go third by winning at Stoke, but Tony Pulis claims Marc Bircham play-acted to get Gerry Taggart sent off: “Taggart’s a tough warrior. He’s incensed.” “If the fans want me to go then they will keep doing what they have been doing,” says Leicester’s Micky Adams, who is barracked during a 1-1 home draw with Preston. In League One the Arsenal of Bedfordshire drop points for only the second time in a 1-1 draw at Tranmere, who score with a rebound from a twice-taken penalty. Brentford are nine points back in second after beating Oldham. Yeovil top League Two again, but only three points separate the top seven. Kidderminster blow a chance to get off the foot by letting in a 90th-minute equaliser to next-to-bottom Cambridge. Paul Gascoigne is to leave Boston after two months; Scottish club Morton are said to be mustard-keen to offer him their manager’s job. Why, Morton?

Sunday 3 Nicky Butt gets Newcastle’s equaliser in a 2-2 draw at Birmingham, while his old club are held 1-1 at home by Middlesbrough. Sir Alex isn’t concerned about the nine-point gap to Arsenal: “Once we get back off the international break, we can have a decent run at it.” Chelsea grind out another 1-0, Liverpool the victims this time, though goalscorer Joe Cole doesn’t seem to have impressed his manager: “When he scored the game finished for him. He has two faces – one beaut­iful and one that I don’t like.” Does he write these out beforehand, do you think?

Monday 4 Malcolm Glazer, the 244th richest man in America, has sounded out Man Utd’s plc board about a takeover. “We don’t want him sucking the marrow out of Manchester United,” says a Shareholders United spokesman. Crystal Palace are off the bottom with a 2-0 win over Fulham who have Ian Pearce dismissed after six minutes. “Some of our guys need to wake up and smell the coffee,” advises a thunderous Chris Coleman.

Tuesday 5 For the first 17 years of its life, Arsenal’s new ground will be called the Emirates Stadium. The airline will also sponsor their shirts and Herbert Chapman is whirring away. The League Managers Association are “surprised and disappointed” that Steve Wigley will be allowed to stay on as Southampton head coach until he gets the diploma required for all top-level managers.

Wednesday 6 Coach Luis Aragones makes racist comments about Thierry Henry to his Arsenal team-mate José Antonio Reyes during a Spain training session. Adrian Mutu says he wants to leave Chelsea because José Mourinho wants to play his own signings: “Those players are fielded to show that the investment was profitable.”

Friday 8 Jonathan Woodgate will be out for the season after aggravating his thigh injury in training. Real Madrid blame Newcastle’s medical treatment, which chairman Freddie Shepherd counters, in a folksy manner: “The old Geordie saying is ‘buyer beware’.” Malcolm Glazer is in talks with Man Utd shareholders John Magnier and JP McManus about buying them out for £35 million each. Luton go nine points clear in League One with a sixth successive home win, 3-0 against Hartlepool. Swansea take the lead in League Two after beating Mansfield 1-0.

Saturday 9
England see off Wales with an early goal credited to Frank Lampard, but deflected in by Michael Owen, and a second-half strike from David Beckham, who will be out for several weeks with a rib injury . “I’m pleased it wasn’t an ugly game,” says Sven, while Mark Hughes shrugs: “We were just a little bit short.” Northern Ireland draw 0-0 in Azerbaijan, whose charmless coach Carlos Alberto is unimpressed: “We have our limitations but I am sick of having to play these shit teams.” The Republic also get a goalless draw away to France and might have won. Scotland suffer a first home defeat in a World Cup tie since 1985, James McFadden being sent off for handling on the line before Norway’s winning penalty. Berti is bullish: “My only target is the 2006 finals and I do not expect to be sacked.” Worst performance of the day comes from Portugal, who are two up at half-time away to Liechtenstein only to draw 2-2. Luis Aragones says he will fly to London to apologise personally to Henry.

Monday 11 David Beckham could be in trouble after admitting that he deliberately got booked shortly after being injured on Saturday to get the suspension out of the way. “It’s not the behaviour that befits an ambassador of football and fair play,” says Sepp Blatter in his role as head of FIFA’s Pomposity Commission. “I’ve had a horrible time,” says Micky Adams, who resigns as Leicester manager; Howard Wilkinson takes temporary charge. Wayne Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford could face perjury charges after the abandonment of a court case against three men who allegedly tried to muscle in on money made from Rooney deals. “He is a manipulative and dishonest man,” says one of the cleared defendants.

Wednesday 13 Michael Owen marks his captaincy of England with the only goal in Azerbaijan. “I have seen better football matches in my life, but the conditions were difficult,” says Sven, shouting above the 60mph wind. David Beckham makes a public apology for his deliberate booking and may have it summarised in a tattoo. Wales take the lead at home to Poland, but lose 3-2. Robbie Savage warns the Welsh FA that “a few boys will look long and hard at their futures” if the manager’s job is not offered to Gary Speed, who announces his retirement from international football after the match. “The goals are coming in bucketloads now,” says Lawrie Sanchez as Northern Ireland get a 94th-minute equaliser in a 3-3 draw with Austria. The Scotland manager is not expected to heed the cries of “Berti, Berti, get tae fuck” from a section of the travelling support who see their team come from behind to draw 1-1 in Moldova. Robbie Keane beats Niall Quinn’s scoring record for the Republic, getting both their goals at home to the Faroes. Last weekend’s laughing stock, Portugal, produce the best result of the night, a 7-1 thrashing of Russia, and Andorra record their first win in a competitive match, 1-0 against Macedonia.

Thursday 14 Malcolm Glazer’s bid for Man Utd seems to have collapsed after he fails to reach agreement with the Irish horse fanciers. Meanwhile, a group of Turkish businessmen are still interested in buying Fulham, despite Mohamed Fayed denying that the club is for sale and reportedly referring to one of them as “a kebab seller”.

Saturday 16 Man City become the first team to beat Chelsea, a Nicolas Anelka penalty proving to be enough. José has a searing insight: “Scoring a goal a game will not win us the title.” Arsenal concede a goal after three minutes at home to Villa, but go on to win 3-1. Everton stay third thanks to an 88th-minute Leon Osman goal against Southampton. Liverpool come back from two down and having Josemi sent off to get their first away win of the season, 4-2 at Fulham. Man Utd draw again, 0-0 at Birmingham, after which Sir Alex seeks to stir things up before next weekend’s match with Arsenal, suggesting that their Ruud van Nistelrooy group taunt last season was “the worst thing I have ever seen in sport”. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink scores a hat-trick in Middlesbrough’s 4-0 win at Blackburn, who slip into the relegation zone. Mark Hughes blames Tugay’s early dismissal and the effect of international call-ups: “You could see the miles in their legs.” “Victories against teams down at the bottom are our bread and butter,” beams Sam Allardyce after Bolton’s 1-0 win over Palace, still anchored at the foot. Wigan stay top of the Championship, a Jason Roberts double securing a 2-1 win at Plymouth. QPR go third after a seventh successive win, 1-0 against West Ham, their best sequence of results since 1931. With Rotherham seven points adrift of safety after losing 2-0 at Cardiff their new owners, set to take over on November 1, are said to be considering a new management team of – aaarrgghh! – Bryan Robson and Paul Gascoigne. League One runaway leaders Luton finally lose, 2-1 at home to Huddersfield; Prenton Park stages the division’s match of the season so far with Bradford scoring in the 90th minute to beat Tranmere 5-4. Leyton Orient get a turn at the top of League Two after beating Shrewsbury 4-1, while Swansea lose 4-2 at Southend, for whom debutant Fredy Eastwood scores a hat-trick, including a goal after eight seconds. The team with a permanent lease on the bottom of the Scottish Third Division, East Stirlingshire, daringly take the lead at high-flying Gretna, but go on to lose 8-1.

Sunday 17 Adrian Mutu is “completely shocked” at reports that he has failed a drugs test. More disciplinary problems at St James’, as volatile speedster Craig Bellamy swears at Graeme Souness after being substituted in a 1-1 draw at Charlton. Leeds may knock £15m off their debt with the construction of a casino at Elland Road.

Monday 18 Portsmouth stride up to mid-table after beating Spurs and Jacques Santini is more gloomy than ever: “Tonight we played for just 20 minutes and it is not enough.” Malcolm Glazer spends £17m on shares in Man Utd and is now close to passing the 29.9 per cent mark that would oblige him to bid for the lot. Adrian Mutu’s advisors say he will come clean about taking cocaine.

Tuesday 19 Goalless in the Champions League for Man Utd away to Sparta Prague and Liverpool at home to Deportivo, where Djibril Cissé throws a strop after being subbed. Michael Owen is off the mark, though, with the only goal of Real Madrid’s match with Dinamo Kiev. Wigan beat Crewe 4-1 to extend their Championship lead to three points, while Reading are held 1-1 at home by Leeds. Luton lose again, 2-1 at Walsall, and are only five points ahead of Brentford. Swansea leapfrog Leyton Orient to regain the League Two lead after beating them 1-0. The day after Graeme Souness says: “I’m determined to stamp out non-football stories at this club,” he and Craig Bellamy have to be separated after another set-to in training – perhaps they should go paint-balling. Arsène responds to Sir Alex’s outburst about last year’s game at Old Trafford by waving the hand: “I hope that he will calm down. I can guarantee that it doesn’t influence us at all.”

Wednesday 20 “It’s difficult to win anywhere in Europe, whoever you are,” sighs Arsène as Arsenal twice take the lead in their Champions League tie at Panathinaikos only to draw 2-2, with Jens Lehmann at fault for both goals. Chelsea are almost certain to reach the knockout stage after two first-half strikes see off CSKA Moscow but José is still fretting about goals: “If I could bring Carlton Cole back from loan tomorrow I would.” Celtic lose 3-0 in Donetsk. Paul Gascoigne announces that he wants to be known as “G8”, Gazza having been his slave name or something.

Thursday 21 Newcastle and Middlesbrough both win 1-0 in Greece in the UEFA Cup, an Alan Shearer penalty beating Panionios while Stewart Downing scores against Aegaleo. Rangers beat Amica Wronki 5-0 in Poland; Hearts lose 3-0 to Feyenoord. Deliberate-foul-suspension-man David Beckham won’t be disciplined by the FA due to “insufficient evidence” (really, that’s what they said).

Friday 22 José Mourinho admits he requested the drugs test that caught Adrian Mutu: “When you see a player who is tired, finding it difficult to concentrate, changing moods, you put the question mark.” Jimmy Quinn resigns as manager of Shrewsbury, bottom of League Two after eight winless games.

Saturday 23 Chelsea finally unblock their goal tube, Eidur Gudjohnsen getting his first hat-trick in a 4-0 thrashing of Blackburn, and Arjen Robben makes a belated debut as a sub. “We don’t claim to be a great team but we are a good one now,” says David Moyes as Everton stay third after Duncan Ferguson secures a 3-2 win at Norwich, who come back from two down. Spurs concede more than one for the first time, Henrik Pedersen securing Bolton’s 2-1 win. Afterwards Jacques Santini is criticised for not talking about his famous predecessor, Bill Nicholson, who has died aged 85. “We’ve a lack of confidence which I find frightening,” says the perma-frowning Chris Coleman after Fulham’s third straight defeat, 2-0 at Villa, which leaves them two points above the relegation zone. Palace charge up to 15th after thumping West Brom 3-0 (“That’s the most angry I’ve been after a performance,” quivers Gary Megson) with two goals from Andy Johnson, the leading English scorer in the Premiership with seven. Wigan continue to dominate the Championship, beating Coventry 4-1. Gillingham are stuck fast in the relegation zone after a seventh straight defeat, 3-1 at West Ham – “Andy Hessenthaler is going nowhere,” says his new assistant John Gorman, though he didn’t mean it like that. Luton lose for the third time in a week, 3-0 at Hull, and now lead League One by four points from Bradford. Scunthorpe return to the top of League Two with a 1-0 win over Yeovil – the first time the latter have failed to score. Leyton Orient are second after coming back from behind three times at Lincoln and winning 4-3 in the final minute. Rochdale’s Daryl Burgess doesn’t enjoy a return to his former club Northampton: within 20 minutes he has scored an own goal, conceded a penalty and been sent off; his side lose 5-1.

Sunday 24 Arsenal’s unbeaten run ends at Old Trafford as Wayne Rooney wins a dubious spot-kick, converted by Ruud, then scores a late second. “We got the usual penalty when we come to Manchester United and they are in difficulty,” snaps Arsène, who also felt Rio should have been dismissed for shoving Freddy Ljungberg. Tempers erupt in the tunnel after the match, with an unnamed Arsenal player chucking soup (probably organic, on their wages, with wholemeal croutons) at Sir Alex. All the goals in Newcastle’s 4-3 win over Man City come in the second half with Craig Bellamy getting the winner in the 89th minute. Little Kev is another one fuming: “My players are livid but I’ll be their spokesman. The referee had a bad day.” Southampton fail to score for the fourth successive match, but luckily are playing Birmingham – the draw lifts them off the bottom at Blackburn’s expense. Gaizka Mendieta will miss the rest of the season after injuring a cruciate ligament in Middlesbrough’s 1-1 draw with Portsmouth, whose scorer Diomansy Kamara is booked for the second match running for taking his shirt off in celebration (tell him, Harry, Jim, someone).

Monday 25 Man Utd tell the Stock Exchange that negotiations with Malcolm Glazer have been called off as his intentions are not in the club’s best interests (no shit, Sherlock). Spillage from Soupgate (pizza slices involved too, apparently): Ruud is charged by the FA for a tackle on Ashley Cole not punished at the time and Arsène must explain his post-match criticism of Mike Riley. Little Kev is likewise asked to account for turning the air blue in the ref’s room at Newcastle. In the Championship Rotherham are nine points adrift of safety after losing 1-0 to Sunderland.

Tuesday 26 “I am disgusted by my players,” says David O’Leary as League Cup specialists Aston Villa are knocked out, 3-1 at Burnley. The FA will investigate the crowd violence during Liverpool’s 3-0 win at Millwall, which it is claimed was triggered by chants about Hillsborough from a section of the home crowd. Today’s Soupgate update: Ruud admits to having assaulted Ashley Cole (who has now been fingered as the pizza thrower) and will serve a three-match ban; Arsène denies having called Van Nistelrooy “a cheat” despite having said it on camera. Gary Megson is sacked by West Brom shortly after announcing that he would leave when his contract expires next summer, a comment described as “extremely unhelpful” by a spokesman. The Scottish FA postpone a meeting to discuss Berti Vogts’ future, seemingly because they are still negotiating a pay-off (possibly without a leaving card).

Wednesday 27 No Carling Cup surprises aside from possibly Southampton winning 3-2 at home to Colchester with a hat-trick from teen sub Dexter Blackstock. West Ham fans fight with police at the end of their 1-0 defeat at Chelsea, whose scorer Mateja Kezman is hit on the head by a coin. Arsenal have a happy return to Manchester with a reserves and youth-team XI beating City 2-1 (“This was their third team. Of course I’m embarrassed,” says Kev). Palace also make ten changes from Saturday and get their first away win of the season, 2-1 at Charlton. Spurs go crazy mad for goals with a 4-3 extra-time victory at Bolton, whose Senegal midfielder Khalilou Fadiga, operated on for heart trouble in the summer, is taken to hospital after collapsing in the warm-up. Celtic lose for the first time this season, 3-2 at home to Aberdeen. Rangers are only four points adrift having beaten Dundee Utd 2-1. Soupgate update: Highbury warlord David Dein makes a peace visit to his counterpart David Gill saying: “We get on famously – there is no problem there at all.”

Friday 29 “Chelsea has a zero-tolerance policy towards drugs,” says a club spokesman, announcing that Adrian Mutu has been sacked. A consortium led by a member of the Sainsbury family is making a takeover bid for Leeds; the duo set to take control of Rotherham on November 1 have decided to pull out. Jan Molby resigns as Kidderminster manager; unusually, Gérard Houllier
is not in the frame for this one. Craig Levein is to leave Hearts to take over at Leicester. Wrexham, where fans have been protesting about chairman Alex Hamilton, face closure after having their bank account frozen.

Saturday 30 “To lose today would have put us in a confidence crisis,” says Arsène after Robin van Persie’s injury-time goal secures a 2-2 draw with Southampton, for whom Rory Delap had scored twice in the previous ten minutes. Chelsea draw level on points by thrashing West Brom 4-1: “We live in a brutal world,” sighs Baggies caretaker Frank Burrows. Man Utd slip further back, losing 2-0 at Pompey, with Harry Redknapp praising the home crowd in a way they might not appreciate: “This place is like the old Dell isn’t it? One of those tough places to go.” Meanwhile, Soupgate still simmers, with Sir Alex demanding that Thierry Henry be brought before the FA for a supposedly terrible foul on Gabriel Heinze. Djibril Cissé will be out for the season after breaking his leg in Liverpool’s 2-2 draw at Blackburn. Andy Johnson does it again, getting Palace’s only goal in a 1-0 victory at Birmingham, who have won only one of their past 19 Premiership matches. In the Championship, Reading miss a chance to draw level with Wigan by losing 3-2 at Coventry. The usually verbose Joe Kinnear refuses to talk to the press for the second week running after Forest stay third from bottom following another home defeat, 2-1 at home to Watford. One place below, Gillingham increase the pressure on Dave Jones by beating Wolves 1-0, despite playing with ten men for nearly 80 minutes. Rotherham equal the League record for winless games from the start of a season, 16, after a 3-2 defeat at Derby where they had been two ahead. Luton take a five-point lead in League One after beating nearest challengers Bradford 4-0. At the top of League Two, Scunthorpe stay two points ahead of Leyton Orient after drawing 1-1 at Brisbane Road.

Sunday 31 Bolton are fourth after beating Newcastle 2-1, thanks to what Graeme Souness sees as “bullying” tactics. Sam Allardyce isn’t having that: “Graeme is knackered because little old Bolton have beaten him.” Wigan go six points clear in the Championship with a 2-0 win in their first League game at Leeds. Sir Alex adds Dennis Bergkamp to the list of players he wants to see charged over that match. It’ll be the Arsenal coach driver next, for dangerous parking. And there are confident reports that Berti Vogts will quit as Scotland manager in the next 24 hours.

From WSC 214 December 2004. What was happening this month