September 2001

Saturday 1 Germany 1 England 5, and a hat-trick for Michael Owen after the home team had taken any early lead. “For a non-German it must have been a brilliant spectacle,” sighs Franz Beckenbauer. “I would have been happy with 2-1,” says Sven, containing his excitement. “When we scored the third, fourth and fifth goals we just looked at each other, trying to figure out what the hell was going on,” says a shocked David Beckham. Ireland’s 1-0 win over Holland means they will make the play-offs at least, while their opponents are out, tactical maestro and all. “The pitch was too dry, which made it more difficult for us to pass the ball,” Louis van Gaal explains. Wales and Scotland are held to goalless draws by Armenia and Croatia. Northern Ireland get a 1-1 draw in Denmark. An Englishman also makes the decisive contribution to events in Group 1 as a dubious last-minute penalty gives Slovenia a 2-1 win over Russia – referee Graham Poll is denounced as “a snivelling creep” by Russia’s Alexander Mostovoi. Former ITV commentator Brian Moore dies.

Tuesday 4 Martin Keown is banned for only one game by the FA’s disciplinary committee for his elbow on Mark Viduka back in May (the video machine’s been on the blink, apparently), another light sentence at odds with Adam Crozier’s desire for a get-tough approach. Francis Jeffers scores three as England Under-21s beat Albania 5-0.

Wednesday 5 England lead their World Cup group after struggling to beat Albania 2-0 with goals from Owen and Fowler, the second in the last minute. Sven seems relieved: “We struggled more today than against Germany.” Scotland’s 2-0 defeat in Belgium means they have to beat Latvia by at least six and hope the Belgians win in Croatia. “Our chance has probably gone,” sighs Craig Brown, who may come under pressure to step down. Northern Ireland record their biggest victory in six years, 3-0 against Iceland. Wales stretch their winless run to 11 matches, having Ryan Giggs dismissed in a 3-2 defeat by Norway. Leicester deny reports that they are to offer the manager’s job to Harry Redknapp, who is said to be “bored” with his role as director of football at Portsmouth.

Friday 7 Leeds are to move from their outdated 40,000-capacity stadium next to a motorway to a brand new 50,000-capacity stadium next to a motorway at a cost of £60 million. Peter Ridsdale wants £100 million from a “brand with a global reach” to attach its name to the ground and he’s ready for the gruelling job of locating it. “I am already looking at trips to Japan, North America and some of the European capitals,” he says.

Saturday 8 Middlesbrough take over at the bottom of the Premiership after a 4-1 home defeat against Newcastle. Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer is sent off, Jonathan Greening misses a penalty and Alan Shearer scores twice on his return. “We will be OK and we will prove the knockers wrong,” says Steve McClaren, sounding alarmingly like Bryan Robson. Others to see red cards: Ipswich goalkeeper Matteo Sereni, who learns the facts of Premiership life from Robbie Savage in a 1-1 draw at Leicester; Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, for a disputed elbow on Martin Keown; and the nation’s former favourite Steven Gerrard, for a knee-high assault on George Boateng as Liverpool lose 3-1 at home to Villa. In the First Division, knockabout turn Man City lose 4-0 at West Brom – “There’s no way we’re good enough for automatic promotion if we play like that,” says Kev morosely. Burnley stay top after a 3-0 home win over Rotherham in which Ian Moore scores against his dad’s team. Gordon Strachan is under pressure after Coventry lose 1-0 at home to surprise pace-setters Grimsby. “Stories of Gordon leaving are not true,” says City chairman Bryan Richardson emphatically.

Sunday 9 Tottenham win the Glenn Hoddle grudge match against Southampton 2-0 to leave Saints as the only Premiership team yet to score this season. “Our shortfall is in front of goal,” notes Stuart Gray. Fulham dominate a 1-1 draw at Charlton. “We can hide behind the excuse of our injuries, but I don’t want to,” says Alan Curbishley. “I don’t want to keep on about the injuries, but we won’t complain.” So, absolutely no complaints then. Watford beat Wimbledon 3-0 in the First after goalkeeper Paul Heald is sent off.

Monday 10 “We all wish Gordon huge success in the future and thank him for his refreshing honesty, humour and sheer guts,” says Bryan Richardson with refreshing honesty after Strachan leaves “by mutual consent”.

Tuesday 11 A poor start to the Champions League for Liverpool, held 1-1 at home by Boavista (“We are still conceding silly goals,” says M Gérard) and Arsenal, who have Ashley Cole dismissed for giving away the penalty by which Real Mallorca win 1-0. Unusually, Arsène saw the relevant incident: “Maybe it was a penalty but a red card was very harsh.” West Ham suffer their annual cup embarrassment, losing on penalties to Reading in the Worthington second round. Fulham get a shock too, equalising in the last minute of extra time at Rochdale before squeaking through 6-5 on penalties. Newcastle’s Peruvian international Nolberto “The Greek” Solano is questioned by police investigating allegations over false EU passports. Rangers’ attempt have their UEFA Cup tie with Anzhi Makhachkala switched from Dagestan is rejected by the International Court for Arbitration in Sport.

Wednesday 12 All European club matches are cancelled in response to the attacks in the US. PSV Eindhoven ask that yesterday’s Champions League game with Nantes, which they lost 4-1, be replayed because “our players were not psychologically prepared”. Sunderland go out of the Worthington 4-2 at Sheff Wed and Everton lose in a shoot-out to Palace. After a turbulent couple of years John Hollins is sacked by Swansea. Terry Burton hints that he might not be sticking around at Wimbledon, saying: “This place stinks at the moment.” His mood is not helped by the team surrend­ering a three-goal lead to draw 3-3 at home to Portsmouth.

Thursday 13 FIFA is to mediate in a coats-off shoving match between the French FA and Premier League clubs who don’t want to release players for France’s friendly in Australia in November. “Clubs are flexing their muscles and it’s important that FIFA doesn’t allow itself to be pushed around,” says Australia’s coach Frank Farina. Arsène Wenger claims he won’t sign a new contract with Arsenal until the club get the go-ahead to build a new 60,000 stadium. Other reports, however, suggest his reluctance is linked to a row over his tax status. West Ham sign Czech defender Tomas Repka from bankrupt Fiorentina for £5.5 million. Colin Addison, recently at Yeovil, is the new manager of Swansea.

Friday 14 The Football League announce that Rangers and Celtic may be invited into next season’s Worthington Cup. UEFA are unimpressed: “Clubs are just not allowed to pick and choose to play in different competitions in different countries,” says a spokesman. Don Hutchison warns his new team-mate Trevor Sinclair against a move to Sunderland: “They are very route one. My football started to deteriorate a little bit up there.” Earlier in the week Don had professed surprise that Peter Reid hadn’t spoke to him since his move.

Saturday 15 Roy Keane and Robbie Savage (who would have guessed it?) are the central figures of a bad-tempered day. Keane is sent off for lashing out at Alan Shearer at the end of Man Utd’s 4-3 defeat at Newcastle, though, as Sir Alex points out in mitigation: “He didn’t actually cut his head off.” Savage wins a last-minute penalty at Derby, giving Leicester a 3-2 win and sparking an all-in rumpus in the tunnel. “Something has to be done about Savage,” says Jim Smith, possibly capturing the mood of a nation. Bolton, who lose 1-0 at home to Southampton, are knocked off the top by Arsenal, 3-1 winners at Fulham. Liverpool come from behind to win the Merseyside derby 3-1 at Goodison. “When you lose three games in a week, you struggle to find many positives,” says Walter Smith in Eeyore-ish fashion. Lancashire clubs lead all three Nationwide divisions in the form of Rochdale, Oldham and Burnley, who thrash Walsall 5-2. “I suppose that was a terrible substitution,” says sarcastic Clarets manager Stan Ternent after Lee Briscoe comes on to boos from the home fans before scoring twice in three minutes.

Sunday 16 After the obligatory Premiership penalty incident, red card, last-minute goal and post-match argy-bargy, Chelsea stretch their unbeaten run against Tottenham to 25 matches with a 3-2 win at White Hart Lane. Frank Lampard is sent off, but Hasselbaink is again the misunderstood man at the centre of it all. “At times I felt I needed somebody to hold myself back,” says an enraged Glenn Hoddle. Leeds go top thanks to a 2-0 win at Charlton for whom Graham Stuart is sent off. “We’re not playing that well,” admits David O’Leary, though he still manages to be aggrieved at “the so-called experts” who say Leeds aren’t playing that well.

Monday 17 Middlesbrough score twice in the last five minutes to win 2-1 at Leicester in the battle of the cursed England coaches. In the First Division, Bradford go second after a 1-1 draw at Sheff Wed, while Rotherham lose again, 2-0 at Forest. “They footballed us to death,” says Ronnie Moore. Charlton are proposing that the Premiership should get a second division because too many Football League clubs are running up huge debts to try to get into the elite.

Tuesday 18 Late drama in the Champs League: Man Utd beat Lille with a last-minute goal from David Beckham; Celtic concede a controversial 90th-minute penalty in losing 3-2 to Juventus. A “shocked” Martin O’Neill is sent to the stands for protesting. In the First Division, Burnley stretch their lead to five points with a 3-2 win at Birmingham; Brighton’s 1-0 win over Stoke puts them top of the Second; Rochdale still lead the Third despite losing 3-1 at Hull. Rangers’ UEFA Cup tie with Anzhi is to be a one-off match in a neutral venue. Their opponents are unhappy: “This is discrimination against Russian football,” says a club spokesman. Billy Davies steps down as manager of Motherwell, currently bottom of the SPL.

Wednesday 19 Arsenal ride their luck, beating Schalke 3-2, one goal a penalty won by a tumbling Patrick Vieira – “I’m not ashamed, it’s part of the game.” Liverpool grind out a draw in Dortmund and confirm that Michael Owen is to sign a four-year contract worth more than £10,000 a day. Bolton return to the top of the Premier with a 1-1 draw at Blackburn. In the Exciting Division, Man City concede a last-minute goal to lose 4-3 at Coventry – “We can score, but we’re letting them in,” notes Kev.

Thursday 20 Chelsea are the only British winners in the UEFA Cup, beating Levski Sofia 3-0. Ipswich miss a penalty in drawing 1-1 at home with Torpedo Moscow, while Villa lose 3-2 to Varteks Varazdin – “They did not surprise me, it’s what we did that surprised me,” snarls John Gregory. Leeds lose 1-0 away to Maritimo. David O’Leary remains ungracious in defeat: “Thank goodness it’s only the UEFA Cup and not the Champions League.” Kilmarnock draw at home with Viking Stavanger, Hibs lose 2-0 to AEK in Athens. Wimbledon owner Kjell Rokke claims to be ready to sell up following a huge drop in the share price of his main company following the World Trade Center attack. Set to join Spurs for £8 million, Dean Richards says: “They have paid over the odds because the Southampton chairman was trying to price me out of a move.” QPR admit the Unification Church, aka the Moonies, approached them about a takeover bid. The club is now in talks with a consortium whose main backer is a mysterious businessman referred to as “JR”.

Saturday 22 Bolton stay top after drawing 1-1 at Arsenal despite having Ricardo Gardner dismissed in the first half. Arsène is, frankly, a bit sniffy: “They only had 35 per cent of possession. They won’t finish in the top four.” The nation’s sweetheart will miss England’s match with Greece next month after the hamstring pings again dur­ing Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Spurs: “It is like the rain, it is inevitable,” declaims Gérard. Man Utd rest nine players but still get a 4-0 win over Ipswich, who were prevented by a TV deal from moving their UEFA Cup match forward a day. Sunderland come back from two down to draw at home to Charlton. Norwich move into second place in the First after beat- ing leaders Burnley 2-1. The Man City road- show pitches up at Hillsborough where the home side are beaten 6-2– there have been 40 goals in City’s eight league games so far. The FA will investigate crowd trouble that held up play at Coventry’s match with Portsmouth, won 2-0 by the home side, their fourth straight victory since Gordon Stra­chan left. Odd, that. Brighton are four points clear in the Sec­ond, Shrewsbury a point ahead of Hull in the Third. Bot­tom club Exeter, 4-0 losers at Darl­ington, part com­pany with manager Noel Blake. The PFA are to ballot mem­­bers on strike action over their cut of the current TV deal.

Sunday 23 Middlesbrough get a last minute penalty in a 2-2 draw at Chelsea, four of whose players have been fined two weeks’ wages for “stripping, swearing and vomiting” at a Heathrow hotel on the night that the team’s UEFA Cup match was postponed because of the deaths in the US. Leeds return to the top after a 3-0 win over Derby but Peter Ridsdale wants to go shopping: “We have three play­ers in mind and will step up our efforts to prise them away from their clubs.” So don’t expect him to complain if some- one ever tries to tap Mark Viduka. Norwich apolo­gise to Ipswich for a scoreboard message on Saturday an­noun­cing that Man Utd had taken the lead against “Scum”.

Monday 24 Brian Flynn, the third longest serving manager in all divisions, leaves Wrexham after 12 years, along with his assistant Kevin Reeves. Rory Delap and Dion Dublin are controversially sent off (stifle that yawn) in Aston Villa’s 3-1 win at Southampton, still yet to take a point in their less-than-intimidating new stadium. John Gregory is upset with Tahar El-Khalej. “He committed a disgraceful act in the way he fell to the floor and rolled over six times. It was embarrassing.” St Johnstone, bottom of the SPL, sack manager Sandy Clark.

Tuesday 25 Deportivo La Coruña score twice in the last three minutes to beat Man Utd in the Champions League. “I think we had done almost 100 per cent of the job,” says Fergie, with uncharacteristic incompleteness. Celtic bravely overcome Martin O’Neill’s touchline ban to beat Porto 1-0. In the First Division, leaders Burnley come from two down to draw 3-3 with Crewe, while a last-minute goal against Forest puts Wolves second. Luton go back to the top of the Third with a 3-1 win at Leyton Orient, thanks to another goal from the allegedly Ginolaesque Jean-Louis Valois.

Wednesday 26 Arsenal fall to their sixth away defeat in seven Champions League games, one goal being enough for Panathinaikos. Thierry Henry, angered by the home team’s diving, is involved in a scuffle after the final whistle and says: “That’s not football. You have to be a man.” Liverpool beat Dynamo Kiev with a Jari Litmanen goal. Kevin Wilson is dismissed as manager of Second Division stragglers Northampton Town.

Thursday 27 Ipswich are the star performers in the UEFA Cup, winning 2-1 way against Torpedo Moscow. Leeds make up their one-goal first-leg deficit with a 3-0 win over Maritimo, Chelsea win 2-0 away to Levski Sofia. Villa, however, go out on away goals despite a 1-0 win in Croatia. “There’s no point in me complaining,” says John Gregory uncharacteristically. Hibs take AEK to extra time before losing 4-3 on aggregate. Kilmarnock go out to Viking Stavanger. Rangers beat Anzhi Makhachkala 1-0 in neutral Warsaw.

Friday 28 Prosinecki-inspired Portsmouth win 4-1 at Barnsley to move into the First Division promotion pack. The boxing promotor Stephen Vaughan takes over Chester City, ending the eccentric reign of Terry Smith. The FA are to remove title sponsorship from the FA Cup from next season. “Eventually the FA faxed us a letter. It’s staggering really,” says a spokesman for current sponsors AXA.

Saturday 29 Man Utd come from 3-0 down to win 5-3 at White Hart Lane, much to the dismay of the Spurs fan who put £10,000 on his team at half-time at odds of 1-16. “God help the rest of us when United start getting clean sheets,” says Glenn Hoddle. Everton lose Paul Gascoigne early on, but then put five past West Ham. Wolves are the new First Division leaders after a 3-0 win at Rotherham, overtaking Burnley, who lose 1-0 at West Brom. “When you come to Man City I don’t think anyone would expect to win 4-0,” says shocked Wimbledon manager Terry Burton, who obviously hasn’t kept a close eye on events at Maine Road this season.

Sunday 30 Fulham and Chelsea draw 1-1 at Craven Cottage in their first league encounter since 1984. “We have a problem with concentrating all the game,” says Claudio Ranieri after his team give away a lead for the fourth time this season. Aston Villa, Leeds and Liverpool all win, the latter 2-0 at St James’ Park. “That back line was like four oak trees,” says an impressed Bobby Robson. “We just couldn’t get the ball over them.” Celtic win the Old Firm match 2-0 at Ibrox. Leicester sack Peter Taylor, following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat at Charlton. Harry Redknapp is the favourite to take over: “A return to the Premiership is a very tempting proposition so I have to say I am interested.”

From WSC 177 November 2001. What was happening this month