September 2004

Wednesday 1 Middlesbrough insist that Steve McClaren is not in the frame for the Newcastle job. Bolton likewise say Sam Allardyce is staying put. “Sam is committed to rewriting the history of this club,” says chairman Phil Gartside. Clive Woodward, who is about to step down as England rugby coach, may be offered a role at Southampton, waving a clipboard and shouting.

Friday 3 Terry Venables is believed to be having talks with Newcastle (keep the receipts, Freddie). “That was real Scottish football,” says beleaguered Berti as his side secure a moral victory in Spain, their friendly being abandoned at 1-1 due to floodlight failure, torrential rain and a plague of boils.

Saturday 4 England blow a two-goal lead in Austria, a David James cock-up gifting the home side an equaliser in a 2-2 draw. Sven won’t be making changes for the next match: “The mood in our dressing room is not good but I am not concerned about David’s mental condition.” Wales also slip up in drawing 1-1 in Azerbaijan, while defensive mishaps gift Poland a 3-0 win in Belfast. The Republic of Ireland beat Cyprus 3-0. In the same group, France are held to a goalless home draw by Israel. European champions Greece lose 2-1 in Albania. League One leaders Luton lose the last 100 per cent record outside the Premiership in drawing 0-0 at Sheffield Wednesday. Scunthorpe stay top of League Two after a draw at Darlington. Chester are still bottom despite their first win of the season, 1-0 v Macclesfield.

Monday 6 “I’m ready for a big challenge and they don’t come much bigger than this,” says Graeme Souness, the surprise choice as new manager of Newcastle. Tony Parkes duly steps in for his sixth stint as Blackburn caretaker (he’s got his own mop).
Wednesday 8 Jermain Defoe scores on his full debut as England, with Paul Robinson in for David James, scramble to a 2-1 win in Poland, a second-half own goal proving decisive. Bottom lips trembling, the England players refuse to talk to the press afterwards in protest at negative reaction to the draw in Austria. Sven is in support: “It is their way of protecting each other and they are right to do it.” In a bizarre first half at the Millennium Stadium Robbie Savage and Michael Hughes are sent off for fighting after nine minutes and are joined by David Healy for allegedly making an obscene gesture to the crowd after putting Northern Ireland two up. (Lawrie Sanchez is incensed at the referee: “It shows sometimes people know the rules but not the game.”) Wales finally equalise through Rob Earnshaw 15 minutes from time. Scotland are held to a goalless draw at home by Slovenia. The Republic of Ireland draw 1-1 in Switzerland.

Saturday 11 When Referees Attack. Mark Halsey awards Fulham a penalty then changes his mind after the Arsenal players persuade him to talk to his assistant. With the game still goalless, Fulham then have an effort ruled out and Arsenal go on to win 3-0. “I kept myself from him because I am too emotional about it,” says Chris Coleman. Didier Drogba is shown a (later retracted) yellow card for diving when he appears to have been brought down during Chelsea’s goalless draw at Villa. José Mourinho comes over all rhetorical: “If a similar situation happens in the future to Thierry Henry or Ruud van Nistelrooy, we will see a similar decision given?” Tim Cahill scores the only goal for Everton at Man City but is then dismissed for a shirt-over-the-head goal celebration: “It was stupid but sometimes the game is stupid,” says David Moyes. Man Utd get an injury-time equaliser from David Bellion in a 2-2 draw at Bolton, who had regained the lead moments earlier through Les Ferdinand. Sir Alex isn’t worried: “The number of times we do it shows it’s not an accident.” Graeme watches from the stands as Newcastle get their first win of the season, 3-0 against Blackburn. West Brom players allegedly fight on their team coach after the 3-0 defeat at Liverpool. It’s looking hairy for Palace, who stay bottom after losing 3-1 at Portsmouth, Tony Popovic contributing a spectacular back-heeled own goal. Paul Jewell’s little round face is forlorn as Wigan miss a chance to go three points clear in the Championship after conceding a 90th-minute equaliser in a 3-3 draw with Wolves. Luton stay seven points ahead in League One following a 1-0 win over Colchester. A 2-1 win at Southend takes Wycombe to the top of League Two; Jan Molby’s unhappy return to Kidderminster continues as they sink to the bottom after a fifth successive defeat.

Sunday 12 A goalless draw at Spurs takes Norwich out of the bottom three. Ipswich go top of the Championship after a 2-0 win over Millwall. Troubled times for Alex McLeish as Rangers’ 0-0 draw at Hearts means they are seven points behind Celtic. Anxious at not being in the news for a few days, Sepp Blatter says he disagrees with Tim Cahill’s red card – rules concerning shirt removal will be discussed at a FIFA meeting later in the month.

Tuesday 14 José has no cause for his Posh Spice pout as Chelsea stroll to a 3-0 win at PSG. Didier Drogba scores two, though he is a bit naughty, taunting the home fans. “We’re not used to winning 1-0 recently,” says Arsène after Arsenal edge past PSV. Henrik Larsson scores Barcelona’s third in a 3-1 win at Celtic. Stoke replace Ipswich at the top of the Championship after beating them 3-2. Plymouth’s 11-month unbeaten home run ends with a 1-0 defeat by Leeds. With no right of appeal under FIFA rules, Robbie Savage may take legal action to overturn his red card against Northern Ireland. No laughing at the back.

Wednesday 15 Ruud van Nistelrooy breaks Denis Law’s European scoring record for Man Utd, scoring twice as they recover from two down at the break to draw 2-2 at Lyon. “I don’t think we can ignore what happened in the first half tonight,” says Sir Alex, packing away his thumbscrews. Djibril Cissé and Milan Baros score the Liverpool goals that beat Monaco. The plucky underdogs from Madrid lose 3-0 in Leverkusen; Roma’s match with Dynamo Kiev is abandoned after referee Anders Frisk is hit by an object thrown from the crowd moments after dismissing the home side’s Philippe Mexès. Mark Hughes takes over at Blackburn but will stay in charge of Wales for two games. FAW officials are talking of “a dream team” of Sir Bobby Robson and Gary Speed.

Thursday 16 Middlesbrough’s Viduka-Hasselbaink partnership contributes all the goals in a 3-0 UEFA Cup win over Banik Ostrava. The other European debutants Millwall take the lead at home to Ferencvaros through a Dennis Wise free-kick (“He thinks he’s a specialist but it’s the first I’ve seen him score,” says Ray Wilkins), but concede a late equaliser. Newcastle have Nicky Butt sent off during a 2-0 win over Bnei Sakhnin. “We’ve all been there. I certainly have,” says Graeme Souness, making a scything motion with his right foot. Hearts beat Braga 3-1 but Rangers lose in the other Scotland v Portugal tie, 1-0 away to Maritimo.

Saturday 18 “We looked naive and passive,” says Arsène as Bolton twice level in a 2-2 draw at Highbury. Sam appears to agree: “You can only have got at Arsenal if they let you – and they let us.” Mark Hughes has a winning start at Blackburn, Matt Jansen’s goal beating Portsmouth; Ricardo Fuller appears to win a penalty in the last minute but is instead booked. No end of controversy in Fulham’s 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns: three are sent off and debutant Rob Earnshaw blasts a penalty over the bar when Edwin van der Sar is a good five yards off his line. Chris Coleman thinks the problem stemmed from a “leg-breaking tackle” by Darren Purse that only received a yellow; Gary Megson appears possessed by PG Wodehouse: “It was a bit of a tally-ho, wasn’t it?” “I’ve never been sacked and I’m not going to start now,” says Little Kev, who denies having a training-ground bust up with the benched Robbie Fowler after Man City’s 2-1 win at Palace. Nigel Worthington demands better finishing – “Ruthless is a good word in the Premiership” – after Norwich draw again, 0-0 with Villa. Wigan return to the top of the Championship with a 4-0 win over Sheffield Utd. Stoke are held at home by winless Forest, though manager Tony Pulis is reflective: “Their wage bill is three or four times ours.” In League One, Luton’ s bid to be promoted before New Year continues with a 3-1 win at Stockport, keeping them seven points ahead of Hull. Chris Turner is sacked by Sheffield Wed, whose 1-0 home defeat by Bournemouth leaves them 14th. A 1-0 win at Bury takes Scunthorpe back to the top of League Two, one point ahead of Yeovil who beat Oxford 6-1. Notts County are the latest team to sample being bottom after losing 2-1 to Southend.

Sunday 19 José Mourinho is mightily disgruntled by Tottenham’s defensive approach in a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge: “In Portugal you expect it when a little team comes to do that. But I didn’t expect it in England.” Thoroughly recovered from Rooneyitis, Everton go third, a Marcus Bent goal being enough to beat Middlesbrough. Newcastle win again, 2-1 at Southampton, who once more dismiss stories linking Glenn Hoddle with the manager’s job. Celtic drop league points for the first time in a 2-2 draw with Hibs. José Camacho resigns as Real Madrid coach amid rumours that Raúl and his gang don’t want stinky Michael Owen in the team.

Monday 20 Mikaël Silvestre, no less, scores twice as Man Utd beat Liverpool 2-1, the latter’s equaliser coming from a John O’Shea own goal. “I am not looking back any more, only forward,” says the returning Rio. Steven Gerrard breaks a bone in his foot and will be out for two months. Fulham receive several FA charges for their part in Saturday’s bundle at West Brom. Chris Coleman is also charged for comments about referee Mark Halsey after the Arsenal match. Sven insists he has not been approached about the Real Madrid vacancy – no denials from Gordon Strachan yet. Legendary manager Brian Clough dies of cancer aged 69.

Tuesday 21 Colchester cause the main surprise in the Carling Cup, a 118th-minute goal seeing off West Brom 2-1. (Gary Megson is coping: “As a manager you’re under pressure all the time. You just have to deal with it.”) Crystal Palace need extra time to beat Hartlepool by the same score while Ipswich lose 2-0 at Doncaster. Man City prepare for the visit of Arsenal by thrashing Barnsley 7-1. Sergei Rebrov’s first goal for West Ham helps them to squeak past Notts County, 3-2. Roy Keane is charged with assault after an incident near his home. The FA are to consider introducing sin bins for next season. It will be timeouts next, then breaks for tea.

Wednesday 22 Just over 7,000 see a classic at Ewood Park, where Blackburn get a last-minute equaliser against Bournemouth then go into a 3-2 lead in the first minute of extra time before being taken to penalties, which the visitors win 7-6. “We had a team that should have been able to see that game out,” says a thunderous Mark Hughes. Everton’s woeful Carling Cup form nearly continues at Bristol City, who come back from two down to draw but lose 4-3 on spot-kicks. “I was never twitchy,” says David Moyes, looking even paler than usual. Spurs take down their anti-Mourinho fortifications to win 6-0 at Oldham.

Thursday 23 Paul Sturrock takes over at Hillsborough with a guarantee from Wednesday chairman Dave Allen: “Promotion has to be the target but I’m not going to chop his legs off if he doesn’t do that.” Birmingham loanee Mikael Forsell is ruled out for six months after knee surgery.

Saturday 25 Chelsea and Arsenal march on with 1-0 away wins at Middlesbrough and Man City respectively (“Jesus, what a relief!” says José of Drogba’s late winner). A penalty is enough for Man Utd at Spurs; Jacques Santini, enraged by the award, may be called in by the suits for claiming to have seen the referee in the visitors’ dressing room at half-time. “All I’ve got to do is stand there and take the flak,” says Steve Wigley as Southampton fans boo their team off after a 1-0 defeat at Fulham. The newly promoted clubs remain in the bottom three places, though Palace manage a draw at Villa, Andrew Johnson giving them the lead before Lee Hendrie equalises and becomes the latest player to be booked for his celebration. Darren Purse is dismissed in West Brom’s 3-1 defeat at Newcastle; Norwich lose 3-0 at Liverpool. Reading are top of the Championship, their highest ever league position, after a 1-0 win at Watford, while Wigan are held 1-1 by Derby. “The discipline side of the club has gone haywire,” says Micky Adams as Leicester lose a two-goal lead after having David Connolly sent off in a 3-2 defeat at QPR. Ipswich also come back from two down, with a man sent off, to beat Plymouth by the same score. Rotherham score only their third goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with Millwall that keeps them bottom. A 2-1 defeat of Peterborough allows Luton to stretch their League One lead to nine points. “I’m not to going to quit, I have been through enough,” says Paul Merson after Walsall drop into the bottom four with a 1-0 defeat by Brentford. Kidderminster return to the bottom of League Two but only two points separate the bottom eight. The BBC’s Barry Davies retires from football commentating in protest at being given fewer high-profile matches. And really, one has to say, that is so unfair.

Sunday 26 Everton are four points clear in third place after beating Portsmouth with a late goal from Tim Cahill, celebrated in a restrained way (“I almost put my own shirt over my head,” says David Moyes). The Brian Clough memorial day in Nottingham ends in spectacular fashion with Marlon King getting Forest’s first win of the season, 2-1 against West Ham, with the last kick of the match.

Monday 27 “I have been calling for some ‘Charlton-like basics’ and they all responded,” says Alan Curbishley after his team go seventh with a 1-0 win over Blackburn. Liverpool receive government backing for their planned 67,000-capacity stadium in nearby Stanley Park, due to be completed in 2007. Billy Davies is named Preston manager after winning four of his six games as caretaker.

Tuesday 28 Wayne Rooney scores a hat-trick on his Man Utd debut, the first player to do so in 99 years, in a 6-2 Champions League win over Fenerbahce. “What you saw tonight is the reason why we signed him,” beams Sir Alex. Liverpool lose 1-0 to Olympiakos with Rafa Benítez echoing the traditional complaint of English club managers: “We gave the ball away too easily.” In Joe Royle’s 1,000th match in management, Ipswich miss a chance to go top, drawing 1-1 with Championship leaders Reading. The demanding Paul Jewell accuses his Wigan players of “complacency” as they stay second, and unbeaten, with a goalless draw at Watford. In the Conference, Northwich move on to minus five points after having ten deducted for going into administration.

Wednesday 29 José Mourinho is spat at by travelling fans during Chelsea’s 3-1 home win over his old club, Porto. “I can understand that some people will love me and others will not love me,” he says. Celtic concede twice in the last two minutes to lose 3-1 in Milan. Arsenal take the lead away to Rosenborg but concede a second-half equaliser, which apparently triggers a bundle on the team coach between Lauren and Patrick Vieira. Forest slip back into the Championship’s bottom three after a 1-0 home defeat by Brighton. Rare drama in the LDV Vans Trophy, where coach Bobby Gould walks out on Peterborough at half-time against Bristol City.

Thursday 30
Newcastle stroll into the group stage of the UEFA Cup after a 5-1 win in Israel against Bnei Sakhnin, whose combative approach worries Graeme: “Our football in England is meaty, but there are more aggressive countries.” Middlesbrough survive the dismissal of Franck Queudrue to get a 1-1 draw away to Banik Ostrava. Millwall go out after losing 3-1 to Ferencvaros. Four of their fans are hospitalised with stab wounds after pre-match fighting in Budapest; the club will also complain to UEFA about lax security in the stadium. Hearts knock out Braga 5-3 on aggregate and Rangers are through, too, after winning a penalty shoot-out against Maritimo.

From WSC 213 November 2004. What was happening this month