Monday 2 October
Jack Whitley’s grave marker was unveiled just before the City game. Jack, you’ll remember, spent several years as our ’keeper from ’07 before serving the club as a trainer until 1939. Bruce Buck and Jack’s family attended a small ceremony.
Tuesday 3 October
Alvaro Morata will be out for four to eight weeks with a hamstring tear. Doctors with the Spanish squad assessed him today and he will certainly miss Crustal Palace, the first match against Roma and Watford.
Wednesday 4 October
Chelsea 1:0 Bayern München
He women have settled in to their new home nicely as Champions League matches came to Kingsmeadow for the first time. Drew Spence rewarded a lot of expectation by netting early and while there were some moments in front of goal at our end the Bavarians didn’t dominate.
It is a slender lead to take to Germany but no away-goal means we have a strong advantage.
Thursday 5 October
England 1:0 Slovenia
Watching paint dry has more charms; certainly a slow drip of vinyl matt has more midfield movement than England managed tonight. Starting with two square refrigeration units in midfield in Henderson and Dier didn’t help. Continuing to give opportunities to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Raheem Sterling as the side outlets smacks of desperation. Liverpool really took the bullet for us in the summer by signing the £40m misfit Oxlade-Chamberlain on this evidence he couldn’t see a pass if he has climbed up to it with the aid of crampons and oxygen.
It was down to just Rashford and Kane to carry the entire team. Kane’s late goal confirmed the least satisfying qualification for a World Cup in the history of the game. Perhaps, if the tournament were not being held in a proto-fascist country that routinely attacks both its neighbours and internal dissidents, we could get excited about handing our booking information over to the All-Russia Extraordinary Committee to Combat Counter-Revolution and Sabotage or what ever the KGB are called these days.
However picky we might be the Scots would sell a kidney to be in the World Cup even is it was held in the seventh circle of hell. They beat Slovakia by the odd goal and need a win in Lithuania to secure a play-off slot.
Germany qualified with a thumping win in the Six Counties but Antonio Rüdiger sat on the bench throughout. As did Andreas Christensen as Denmark beat Montenegro to all but guarantee a play-off spot.
Friday 6 October
Italy are struggling toward Russia but they did book a play-off spot after a sloppy 1-1 draw at home to Macedonia Davide Zappacosta played the full match as a wing-back.
Spain are through but our boys were either injured or on the bench as they beat Albania 3-0. The Spanish fans booed Gerard Piquet throughout for his support of Catalan independence.
Excitingly, Wales and the Republic will play-off for one play-off slot in Cardiff next week. A draw would be good enough for Wales while the Irish need to win.
Saturday 7 October
The sad news that Ian McNeill died reached us today. Ian was assistant manager under John Neal and later John Hollins as the club were reborn in the early eighties. Ian’s scouting role has often been overlooked but he brought in the likes of Steve Clarke and Pat Nevin. He will missed.
Chelsea 1:0 Liverpool
We could have had a few more goals but that would be greedy as the women continued their 100% start to the season. Maren Mjelde scored the early goal. Liverpool tried to confuse our girls by playing six former Chelsea players.
Nigeria and Victor Moses booked their place in Russia with a win against Zambia. Worse news for N’Golo Kante as he limped out of France’s easy 1-0 over Bulgaria.
Belgium with Courtois, Hazard and goal scorer Batshuayi played out a thrilling 4-3 with Bosnia.
Sunday 8 October
England left Gary Cahill on the bench for the match in sunny Lithuania and knowing they were under the microscope for reinventing walking football they put in another stinker of a performance and won courtesy of a penalty. Oddly the rain was so heavy the match appeared to be being watched by two-and-a-half thousand bin liners.
Scotland, on the other hand, managed to shoot themselves in the foot by drawing two each in Slovenia leaving Slovakia in the runners-up slot behind England on goal difference.
Denmark are in the play-offs and Andreas played the full match, a 1-1 with ten-man Romania.
Toni Rüdiger scored off the bench as Germany tonked Azerbaijan 5-1.
Monday 9 October
N’Golo Kante and Eden Hazard have been nominated for the Ballon D’Or. The annual chance to see Ronaldo blub like a self-regarding, narcissistic, conceited, egomaniac when he loses and Messi just shrug and say thanks when he wins will have two Chelsea players at the ceremony. Eden is often nominated and N’Golo was on the shortlist last year… sadly, the prize goes to the richest clubs in Spain every year by tradition. Although PSG are now so wealthy they might have a shout with Neymar.
Pedro and Cesar both played as Spain beat Israel by the only goal while Davide Zappacosta managed half and hour against Albania as Italy’s campaign stumbled to a 0-1 close. They will be seeded in the play-offs.
Ireland beat Wales (who they haven’t been Ronaldoishly preening since last summer). Cardiff visibly deflated several inches after the final whistle. Ireland will have to go again in play-offs that have been cruel to them in the past.