Monday 11 June
The women have been ranked as top ten seeds for the next Champions League. The progress is based on national and club performance over five years.
Eden Hazard is in sparkling form as Belgium warned up with a 4-1 win over Costa Rica. Michy Batshuayi scored one for the Red Devils but then hobbled out of the action.
Wednesday 13 June
New pre-season fixture announcements as we will now be playing Internazionale in Nice (July 28), Arsenal in Dublin (August 1) and Lyon (August 7). With Manchester City at Wembley in the Community Shield we will have three sinew-testing matches within a week. Perhaps in preparation for the Uefa Cup.
No news yet as to who will be in charge of the team for these matches. If this goes on any longer then Antonio might just be back.
Gemma Davidson has left at the end of her contract. Gemma has been a central part of the multiple trophy winning women’s set up and is the fifth major name to leave the women’s squad. We wish her well.
Thursday 14 June
The fixtures and the World Cup on the same day – what a treat. We start and finish away from home with Huddersfield Town first up at the start of August and finishing with Leicester City away.
Arsenal visit for our second match as we play all of last season’s top five at home before Christmas with the exception of our visit to the new White Hart Totten-dome towards the end of November. Fulham fans will have circled the match at the Bridge in early December and the return at the Cottage at the start of March.
As always fixtures are moveable feasts and we will not be able to put anything in the diary until BT, Sky and now Amazon have slugged out the schedules.
We are away from home after nearly every Uefa cup round but then when did the fixture computer ever take into consideration anyone but Sir Alex Ferguson.
Laura Ingle is back at the club after a few years away writing Little House on the Prairie… erm… and playing at Bristol and Liverpool. Laura is a versatile defender and with Gemma Davidson leaving yesterday could fill her wing-back role.
The World Cup in Russia got underway with a simple half-hour ceremony so up-to-date it featured Robbie Williams and a twenty-year-old song. Vladimir Putin and Gianni Infantino gave short speeches. One is the leader or an internationally mistrusted, sexist, homophobic, corrupt regime and the other is president of Russia. Infantino’s speech managed to make it sound like football was going to overthrow the Russian state and then make a move on world domination but his words might have been meant to be more conciliatory.
Martin O’Neill wasn’t on the panel to give his opinion on how Robbie’s career has progressed since France ‘98.
Russia 5:0 Saudi Arabia
If they were playing down the bottom of my garden, I’d draw the curtains … the two lowest ranked teams at the tournament kicked-off and very few stayed to watch beyond the first ten minutes. Yuri Zhirkov played a sporadic part for Russia but Saudi Arabia were abject. Two goals in injury time lent a lopsided look to the scoreline; this was such dull match that twelve goals couldn’t have enlivened things.
Friday 15 June
Egypt 0:1 Uruguay
At least we had goals yesterday, today started with a nil-each until it wasn’t at the death when Jose Gimenez headed in a late corner. Egypt announced the availability of Mohammed Salah yesterday only for him to sit on the bench throughout.
Morocco 0:1 Iran
Another last minute winner hands the Iran a surprise win as Aziz Bouhaddouz put past his own goalkeeper with seconds left on the clock, with a diving header as well.
Portugal v Spain
Ronaldo spread his stain from Madrid to Sochi as he dived for an early penalty. The BBC panel, who are all mates with Ronaldo – or would like to be, declared that it was a penalty but the cheating twat dragged his leg to ensure contact with a defender who was trying to get out of the way. If the striker initiates the contact it is not a penalty.
If we are to teach children that there are ethics in football and that, on the highest stage, it is a game of honesty and skill we need referees, and commentators, who can call out cheats. Instead, here again, the VAR backed up his on-field colleague who had been duped by the dive.
The referee refused to issue yellow cards while Portuguese players hauled back players trying to break. Time and time again he issued warnings but failed to take the required action.
As if to prove the laws of the game don’t apply to Ronaldo he berated the referee, waiving an imaginary card and effing and blinding. Dissent that should have seen him booked.
The wiry little prick then dived to win a free-kick that he finished well. The BBC commentators were falling over themselves to praise Ronaldo. After ten-minutes of sucking Ronaldo’s ego Danny Murphy actually said: “it is hard to find the right words do him justice” – well it is if you overlook his cheating.
Between the cheating there was some really good football from Spain who deserved to win. Diego Costa scored two and Nacho skimmed in a cracking strike for the winner.
Saturday 16 June
France 2:1 Australia
A tricky little test for N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud but ultimately a assured start. Australia were only at the races when a bizarre hand-ball handed them a penalty. French goals from Karim Benzema, the first World Cup spot-kick awarded by the VAR, and a deflected effort from Paul Pogba sealed the win.
Argentina 1:1 Iceland
Losing to this lot in the last Euros isn’t looking as bad a result as it felt at the time. Messi missed another penalty that would have made things comfortable for Argentina. As it was Alfred Finnbogason equalised for the Icelanders after Sergio Aguero had given the South American’s the lead.
Peru 0:1 Denmark
A missed penalty helped the Danes win an even contest. Christian Cueva ballooned his spot kick high over the Danish bar while Yussuf Poulsen finished neatly at the near post from a Christian Eriksen through ball. Andreas Christensen played solidly until limping out with cramp near the end.
Croatia 2:0 Nigeria
Victor Moses really put himself about, popping up first in attack and then covering back deep in his own penalty area but it availed his team little. Nigeria had plenty of the ball but couldn’t break down a well organised defence to create any real chances.
Oghenekaro Etebo deflected in a header for the opener and Luka Modric netted a second-half penalty as Croatia made the most of their chances.
Nigeria had Obi John Mikel running the midfield and Moses raiding down the right didn’t really achieve cohesion. The best that can be said is they had a couple of half-chances smothered. It was a poor start to the tournament and a dreadful match to watch.
Sunday 17 June
Costa Rica 0:1 Serbia
Aleksandar Kolarov’s free-kick was the difference this morning as old boys, Nemanja Matic and Branislav Ivanovic enjoyed an easy introduction to the tournament as Costa Rica struggled to mount a meaningful attack.
Brazil 1:1 Switzerland
Watching Brazil on ITV is the worst torture available to the armchair fan. Not for any football reason but because the commentators cannot stop themselves blathering on about the beautiful game and how skilful the Brazilians are. Art and rhythm, flair and natural ability spews forth from their microphones all the way through the match. Each misplaced pass is prefixed with descriptions of genius, each smothered shot a class apart.
Sadly for those forced to listen to this crap the Brazilians ceased o joga bonito in 1982 and started to play a far more agricultural brand of football, this squad is harking back to the sides of the seventies but getting there slowly.
The Swiss equaliser tonight was greeted like a fart in a lift, a father in a batman suit at a feminist convention. Don’t the Swiss understand they are the Washington Generals to Brazil’s Globetrotters?