Monday 1 September
Sutton United 1:0 Chelsea U18
Behind to an early goal we created more than enough chances to at least equalise but just couldn’t find the finish.
Tuesday 2 September
Deep breath… Marco Alonso leaves us for the Camp Nou, Marcos has been a Chelsea player since 2016 when he joined from Fiorentina. He won everything while at Chelsea and we wish him well. Not officially part of the Aubameyang deal but a mutual-consent transfer.
We have another Denis – Denis Zakaria has joined on loan from Juventus with an option to buy if he is a success. The Swiss international was being considered by Liverpool but they snoozed and we bagged a midfielder dubbed a gladiator in Turin. Importantly the former Monchengladbach defensive midfielder can step back to centre-half.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will wear the number 9, apparently unconcerned about recent history or superstition.
Billy Gilmour will be missed here as he signs for Brighton on a permanent deal. Hopefully with a buy-back clause. The world seemed to be at the young Scot’s feet as he won games against Liverpool and Everton just before the Covid lockdown. Without that break we don’t doubt that Billy would now be running Chelsea’s midfield.
Armando Broja signed a new six-year deal. The young striker who show his class on loan with Southampton last season has already made an impact with the Chelsea first team this. “I’m lost for words really just thinking about it. It’s the club I’ve dreamed of playing for my whole life, the club that I support and the club that I love. I’ve been here since I was a boy so it’s a surreal feeling for me and my family.”
Brendan Rodgers isn’t happy with the comments left by Wesley Fofana. Blaming his representatives for the cheap-shot on social media as he left for Chelsea.
Kenedy also left, this time for Real Valladolid.
Loans on deadline day: Harvey Vale left for Hull where he joins Nathan Baxter and Xavier Simons. Ethan Ampadu is travelling back to Serie A. He joins Spezia having after having spent the previous term at Venezia. Dujon Sterling joined Stoke City where he will find old boy Lewis Baker and new manager Alex Neil.
Saturday 3 September
Chelsea 2:1 West Ham United
Oh, but didn’t they squeal, the first match this season where a VAR decision went on our favour and West Ham complained about an equaliser that was ruled out for a foul on Edouard Mendy.
We dominated first-half possession with a scratch line-up, Fofana and Pulisic came in and Gallagher returned but West Ham are deep and organised and lack ambition away from home. They were tough to break down.
Michael Antonio was lucky to be on the pitch when, already on a yellow card, he pulled back Thiago Silva and then hauled him to the ground in . Last weekend Conor Gallagher was given two yellows for less.
Armando Broja’s introduction, along with Mason Mount, made the difference. Starting with Pulisic and Sterling meant we had two false 9s and no target.
Weirdly West Ham took the lead. Ruben Loftus-Cheek was clearly fouled as Antonio went through him failing to touch the ball. From the break they won a series of corners and from the last West Ham’s new German defender, Thilo Kehrer, bundled Edouard Mendy over on his way the back of the net before Antonio scored. The Chelsea ’keeper was airborne when the Hammer’s defender crashed into him, pulling his jersey as he fell back. It was a foul and a clear and obvious error. VAR said nothing.
Should Antonio still have been on the pitch?
Broja almost levelled immediately as he burst onto Jorginho’s lofted pass.
Thomas Tuchel reacted, brought on Kai Havertz and Ben Chilwell. It took the latter only a handful of touches to strike from a deft touch and tight angle finish to equalise. It was a breathtaking goal.
Cornet hit the post and we scampered up field for Kai Havertz remind many of his class with a. finish from Chilwell’s pass.
It is almost as if we spent all that money on Cucurella to put spark back into Ben’s play.
Maxwel Cornet put the ball in the net almost immediately but the ball broke to him after Jarred Bowen crashed into Edouard Mendy.
We were assured after the Spurs game that there isn’t time to consult the pitchside monitor late in the game but Andy Madley found time to rule a clear foul on Mendy.
The unstoppable Manc Machine slipped up at Villa and Everton earned a creditable draw with Liverpool. Bournemouth bounced back from a drubbing last week, coming from two behind to beat Forest 2-3.
Leeds boss Jesse Marsch was sent off for asking the referee to check his pitchside monitor when Leeds were denied a clear penalty. The Leeds boss said “Of course, I don’t want to show disrespect to referees but when I feel like there is disrespect going in the other direction, I don’t know what else to do.” Brentford beat them 5-2.
England qualified for the World Cup with a 0-2 in Austria. It was a great result for Serina Wiegman’s side considering the English game is still in pre-season. There were some tired legs but Millie Bright did her usual excellent job and Beth England looked busy when she came on as sub.
Lauren James also made a substitute appearance to mark her first England cap. It means that Reece and Lauren James are the first brother and sister to represent their country. Nigel and Emma are their proud parents.
Alessia Russo and Nikita Paris with the goals.
Michy Batshuayi has left the building. The Turkish transfer window is still open and after a rumoured move to Nottingham Forest fell through the Belgian mover to Fenerbahce. He scored 14 goals for Besiktas last term and has always given his all as a Chelsea player. Scoring the goal that won the league at West Brom in 2017.
Sunday 4 September
Everton U21 0:2 Chelsea U21
Both goals early in the second half as we overcame the previously unbeaten Toffees. Mason Burstow scored his first for Chelsea after arriving from Charlton.
Southampton U18 3:0 Chelsea U18
We were a bit unlucky not to get back into this one, striking the woodwork in both halves but Southampton made their chances count.
Scott McLachlan has left the club after 11-years as head of international scouting. Scott has been on gardening leave for the last few weeks. The influential scout has been responsible for most of the transfers in to academy and first team under Abramovich. The move means that most of Roman’s backroom staff have been moved on by the Boehly-Clearlake group with nobody yet appointed as replacements.
Brighton beat hapless Leicester 5-2 and at Old Trafford an Arsenal goal was disallowed for a foul in the build-up… something we were assured couldn’t happen when Tottenham scored at Stamford Bridge.
PGMOL have come out and apologised for a decision going in Chelsea’s favour. They said they’ll make sure it never happens again.
Spezia boss Luca Gotti let slip that Chelsea want him to play Ethan Ampadu at centre-back. The versatile player impressed Thomas Tuchel in the USA tour, his vertical passing and dribbling catching the eye. as they expect him to return to London next year.
The Serie A club’s manager said that Ampadu will play on the right of a back three: “He is not [very tall], but has a strong physicality and the willingness to fight for the ball … Chelsea recommended me to use him [as a centre-back] and the discussions will continue. They think he will return to Chelsea as a centre-back.”
Monday 5 September
Reece James has signed a new five-year contract. He will be a Chelsea player until 2027. Genuinely one of the world class players produced by Chelsea in recent years Reece continues to mature and impress. We will be selling him for £200m a few summers from now.
Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink resigned as Burton Albion boss after a poor start to the season. Even the considerable skills of Michael Mancienne couldn’t help the Brewers to more than one point from seven games.
Diego Costa is moving to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Our old striker has been without a club since leaving Atletico Mineiro in January. He is still only 33 and would terrify defences. Arsenal’s backline still wake at night in cold sweats five years later. A work permit might scupper the move.
Tuesday 6 September
GNK Dinamo Zagreb 1:0 FC Chelsea
A frustrating public training session in Croatia turns out to be a dud.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang made a debut in his protective mask and turned down two early shooting chances, opting instead to try to square for colleagues. It was a strange reticence. We were cutting them apart but overplaying and paid for it.
We didn’t have to wait long for Chelsea to be caught on the break. Mislav Oršić beat Fofana for pace and few had any faith in Kepa to close the angle.
As soon as the goal went in the entire Zagreb side defended deep and what followed was a shocking lack of penetration. Behind after 12-minutes we didn’t have any answers. In fact, Dinamo had the better chances. They almost scored from a freekick and the lax defending that saw the ball not cleared.
When we did get the ball, we failed to play with enough tempo.
After the break you might expect a different approach in the second half but with Ziyech on little changed.
Chilwell set up Aubameyang for an equaliser but was caught offside. There were dozens of niggling fouls and staying down feigning injury but for all the disruptive tactics we didn’t create.
One shining example was when Chilwell threw the ball back to Fofana and the ball trickled out of play.
Kepa earned his corn by tipping a shot onto the bar as Dinamo showed us what direct attacking football was all about.
Havertz was cleaned out in the box but we weren’t going to get a penalty tonight, Mason Mount was booked for asking if the ref was related to Anthony Taylor. István Kovács – whose Wikipedia page alleges is corrupt – can’t be closely related to Taylor because he turned down a perfect opportunity to send Mount off when Ristovski went down like he’d been elbowed in the face. Not even a free kick.
For all that we camped on the edge of their box and flashed in a handful of crosses w didn’t manage to hurt them.
The only time the we looked like scoring Ljubičič deflected Havertz head behind for a corner.
To be honest it isn’t surprising. Aubameyang is new, Koulibaly and Fofana have only played together once before, Neither Kovačić nor Jorginho are fully fit, Pulisic and Ziyech both need a run of games to find their form and Mason Mount can’t do it all on his own. It is almost as if we are still going through pre-season in public.
Thomas Tuchel was booked, again, and bemoaned our performance, again, after a bright opening we conceded too easily again. Clearly tetchy, Tuchel’s taciturn post-match interview was almost entirely drowned out by celebrating home fans. To the press later he said “I did not see that coming, so obviously I was in the wrong movie.”
GNK Dinamo Zagreb U19 4:2 FC Chelsea U19
A poor start couldn’t be rectified. We gifted a two-goal head start and Leo Castledine’s flying header only cut the deficit for a few minutes before we shipped another. 3-1 down at half time was grim.
We’d fallen further behind, it seemed like every time we fashioned a chance they broke up the other end and scored, before Leo headed in a second after missing a penalty.
We had enough chances to win this, not just earn a point, but missed a hatful of good opportunities. The chance to make amends is against Salzburg at Cobham next week.
Wednesday 7 September
Thomas Tuchel has been sacked. The man that won the European Cup and kept the show on the road throughout the uncertainty and torment of sanctions has been shown the door.
It is an incredibly short-sighted and precipitous move. Tuchel acted with honour and intelligence during his time at Chelsea and his leadership ensured the wheels didn’t come off in February when sanctions almost stopped the club from functioning.
Under those pressures he secured the Club World Cup and got us to within a whisker and a couple of dodgy refereeing decisions of beating eventual winners in the Champions League.
This summer has been chaotic. The Boehly-Clearlake group sacked everyone who had experience running a football club and dealing with transfer negotiations. Bruce Buck, Marina Granovskaia, Petr Cech and, just this week, the head of international scouting, Scott McLachlan.
A consortium that had no experience of transfer talks, the market or the sport then leaned heavily on Tuchel’s knowledge and experience. The effects of sanctions were still being felt at we lost two of our most important players in Rüdiger and Christensen to free transfers. The delays and mistakes made by Todd Boehly over the summer as, at first, no business appeared to be happening and then targets slipped through our fingers, meant we started pre-season in the States without any defensive recruits. Koulibaly did fly out to join the group but dithering over Jules Koundé meant we lost him to Barcelona and the Wesley Fofana saga dragged on so long he has been training with Leicester’s U21 instead of a proper pre-season under Tuchel.
The recruitment we did manage brought new faces to the club but with all the departures the squad is actually smaller than last season and Tuchel has been given precisely one game to integrate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. A striker so temperamental it was felt he could only operate effectively under one coach – Thomas Tuchel.
Thomas had an open and communicative nature. We all learned so much from listening to his analysis and sympathise with his plight. It seems Todd is flexing his new muscles in charge of Chelsea possibly without any real understanding of the club or the sport. He seems to have asked someone what Roman would have done instead of asking what he should do.
Thomas Tuchel was in charge 100 games in charge saw 49 clean-sheets and a 60% win ratio.
The lack of gratitude is staggering. It is a dreadful mistake to rob Tuchel of the chance to build a dynasty at Stamford Bridge. Tuchel has been under a lot of pressure and could possibly do with a break. Other managers might well come in and do well. Under Tuchel we could have been dominant.
Graham Potter has been approached about replacing Tuchel. It is a big step from Brighton to Chelsea and the guy’s head is probably spinning because he was sitting in the middle of their official team photo only this morning.
Chelsea have clearly agreed to pay whatever Brighton have asked and negotiations are expected to be swift. Potter is widely respected but has no experience in Europe. On the plus side he turned down the chance to talk to Tottenham about the vacancy there last season.
Thursday 8 September
Graham Potter had first a verbal agreement to take over and then arrived at Cobham to sign a contract. We are paying Brighton and Hove Albion about £16m to buy out his contract making Graham one of the cheapest transfers this summer.
Potter is 47 and started in management in 2010 when he took Östersund FK in Sweden through three promotions and into the Europa League beating Arsenal along the way. He switched to Swansea in 2018 and from there to Brighton in 2019 where he saved them from the drop.
Since that first season Brighton have improved each year to a ninth-place finish last term.
Potter bring with him Kyle Macaulay, who is his scout and recruitment analyst as well as assistants Billy Reid and Bjorn Hamberg. Ben Roberts arrives as goalkeeping coach.
Macaulay is the interesting move. Chelsea have been looking to approach a director of football and now have a chief scout and recruitment specialist who is appointed by their new employee.
We are traditionally sceptical about the appointment of new managers but for once feel that Potter might be a good medium-term bet. Inexperience at the highest level isn’t a disqualification if you show promise and Potter’s Brighton sides have been catching the eye.
He hasn’t long to adjust with a derby against Fulham on Saturday morning.
Somewhat overshadowed today Charlotte Wardlaw signed a new contract and went to Liverpool on loan. Charlotte is a midfielder who made most of her senior appearances on loan at Liverpool.
Friday 9 September
Graham Potter will not have the chance to test himself as the new Chelsea manager at the weekend – all fixtures, in an already torturously cramped season, have been cancelled.
Other sports, as indeed, Manchester United and Arsenal did in the Europa Plate-Runners-Up-League last night, are holding two-minute silences and wearing armbands.
Manchester City announced that they will pay all casual staff in full and donate perishable food – hot-dogs for tea in M11 – we hope Chelsea follow their lead.
It seems the football authorities thought they were taking a moral stance the rest of sport would follow. Only to misread the public mood. Again. The calls to the BBC and Sky Sports to return to normal programming are proof of that. Respect yes, cancellations, no.
There are even fears that a massive policing operation around the late queen’s funeral Monday week might mean fixture have to be cancelled next weekend too. Liverpool are due that Sunday.
Saturday 10 September
The Oval and England cricketers came out to a respectful silence and then the first rendition of God Save the King. It could have been football but the FA, EFL and Premier League stepped aside and allowed cricket to have the honour.
Multiple stories of fans who have flown in from abroad for fixtures only to be thwarted by football’s authorities and their exaggerated patriotism.
Monday 12 September
Our game against Liverpool at the weekend has been pulled because of police numbers. Arsenal’s game on Thursday against PSV was the first casualty of Tory cuts.
Police are being hauled off usual duties to police the queen’s funeral on Monday. Given that £700m has been cut from the Metropolitan Police’s budget since 2010 it is understandable that the thin blue is thinner than ever before but it highlights the stupidity of cancelling fixtures last weekend. The Salzburg game on Wednesday goes ahead but with the international break starting next week too, we will not have played a league fixture in September. The World Cup starts in November so when the Fulham and Liverpool games will be rescheduled is a mystery.
Manchester United against Leeds and Crystal Palace and Brighton will also be kicking their heels.
Police in Manchester aren’t expected to be on the streets of London instead they are on alert. Security forces dialled the terrorism threat to maximum – an attack very likely – among the people queueing to bow their heads in the rain.
They’ll put in for overtime for anything but a terrorism threat during the funeral? Security chiefs said it was the biggest operation since the London 2012 Olympics – so we’ll be paying G4S to organise it and then calling in the army to provide cover when minimum-wage work-experience kids turn out to be incapable of deterring a modern-day Guy Fawkes.
The women’s first game is now away to Liverpool on Sunday.
Diego Costa is a wolf. He said he would need a few weeks to get sharp again but he has an international break to do some pre-season work. We play a home game against Wolverhampton Wanderers on the 8th of next month – put some money on it.
Tuesday 13 September
Cancellations due to police numbers are starting to look random and unplanned. Our game on Wednesday goes ahead, while Arsenal’s on Thursday is cancelled, then our game at the weekend is off but their trip to Brentford goes ahead. It seems local safety advisory boards have been sniffing glue.
Lucy Watson has had ACL surgery and returns from her loan with Charlton. It is awful news for the young striker and we wish her a speedy recovery.
Wednesday 14 September
Chelsea 1:1 RB Salzburg
Against the weakest team in the group this was a shambles. Graham Potter has to do better.
He made a bold selection for his first match as head coach. Kepa Arrizabalaga returned on goal for the injured Mendy. Potter selected one centre-half in Thiago with Cesar Azpilicueta and Cucurella alongside him. Reece James with Raheem Sterling were wing-backs with Jorginho in front of a back four and Mount and Kovačić making up a midfield. Havertz and Aubameyang up front in a disjointed but potentially fluid looking side. There was no fluidity. The first hint of pressure and Cucurella looked uncertain of his positioning. And then Kepa pinged a ball into Jorginho who bought a foul on the edge of his own box when they looked to score from the mistake.
Kepa had to come forty-yards to clear when Thiago looked to be caught for pace on the break. With Cucurella and Azpilicueta getting forward it sometimes looked like Thiago Silva was playing as the only defender.
It was a flat first-half performance. We played as if we’d never seen each other before. Almost as if Potter, in trying to pick a side that was distinctive in his first game, had confused and pissed off his squad. With little understanding of their new positions Red Bull’s closing was more effective than they could have hoped. In possession no Chelsea player seemed to have a passing option, let alone two, and we played the whole half across the front of their defence.
Great round of applause in the 21st minute for Thomas Tuchel for his contribution, He started in 2021 with a dreadful and disjointed draw with Wolves.
Raheem Sterling took less than two minutes to open the scoring in the second as Reece James’s turn opened up the pass for Mount down the wing and as an Austrian boot failed to clear the former City striker curled his effort back across the goal.
We then went to sleep for the rest of the half. The equaliser had been coming when Thiago and Azpilicueta were exposed and Kepa let the softest deflection to beat him in slow motion.
Armando Broja had more energy up front than the rest of the attack had mustered in the first 80-minutes and his running set up Ziyech for a chance well saved. But blasted his own late effort over. In truth we didn’t deserve the win and sit bottom of the group.
It was a bungled debut by Potter. It does seem that we will be playing Wimbledon every week as referees allow tougher and persistent fouling by teams seeking to disrupt rhythm but we will have to put up with it. Potter’s selection looked casual, a statement that suggested that, despite a week on the training ground, he doesn’t know his players or a system that we can use. Luckily the game at the weekend is cancelled and our new boss has a few weeks to try to sort out the mess.
Your heart sank listening to Graham Potter at full-time “disappointed with the result in the end…the boys gave everything, they really did. Attacked… quite well.” The stumbling barely coherent platitudes contrasted very poorly with the eloquence in a second-language of his predecessor.
Chelsea U19 1:1 RB Salzburg U19
We should have had this one as we created by far the better chances and led through Lewis Hall’s finish but a stubbornly defensive Salzburg side nicked a goal back on the break and then settled for the draw,
Todd has been acting out again. After sacking Thomas Tuchel and not content with being a major shareholder at Chelsea he has expressed embarrassingly American plans for the future of the British game.
We apparently need a north versus south all-star game – no, we are not making it up – speaking in New York at the Salt Thought Leaders conference he said “Ultimately I hope the Premier League takes a little bit of a lesson from American sports … why don’t we do a tournament with the bottom four sports teams, why isn’t there an All-Star game?
“People are talking about more money for the pyramid; in the MLB All-Star game this year we made $200m from a Monday and a Tuesday. So, we’re thinking we could do a North versus South All-Star game for the Premier League, for whatever the pyramid needed quite easily.”
“Easily”, there just aren’t enough ways to explain that football is not gridiron. Jorgen Klopp was dumbfounded but explained it neatly: “He doesn’t wait long. When he finds a date for that he can call me. In American sports these players have four-month breaks. Does he want to bring the Harlem Globetrotters as well?
“I’m not sure people want to see that – United players, Liverpool players, City players, Everton players all together. It is not the national team. Did he really say it?”
Thursday 15 September
A fan on his way out of the match last night was quoted in the press – “Graham Potter is a good coach but Thomas Tuchel is a great coach.” Potter is going to have to make an impact to change that feeling.
Ben Chilwell, Reece James, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling all make the England squad. They could face Jorginho in the San Siro. Conor Gallagher and Levi Colwill are in the U21 squad.
Saturday 17 September
Brighton & Hove Albion 1:2 Chelsea
Graham Potter called his old mates and arranged a friendly – with Liverpool off on Sunday and Brighton’s game against Crystal Palace also cancelled – the Chelsea side made up of players who didn’t feature on Wednesday. Carney Chukwuemeka scored both of our goals with Armando Broja, Trevoh Chalobah, Christian Pulisic and Denis Zakaria all playing a part.
The first team don’t actually play until a trip to Selhurst Park on Saturday 1October. After that we have eight more matches in the month.
Crystal Palace U21 3:3 Chelsea U21
Omari Hutchinson wrote his name across this one. He scored two, the first as he worked space for himself on the edge of their box early on the second tucking in a rebound, and hit the post with a 25-yard freekick. Being 0-2 up and then 1-3 up when a Lewis Hall shot deflected in, wasn’t enough. There was time for two late Palace goals.
Chelsea U18 0:1 Norwich City U18
A sucker punch at the end robbed us of even a point. We have said this before recently but we created enough chances but couldn’t find a goal. Chances included a mistake inside their box and a point-blank header saved and clearance off the line. Frustrating.
Sunday 18 September
Liverpool 2:1 Chelsea
That wasn’t in the script. The two penalties awarded to Liverpool were soft but we didn’t look a coherent attacking force. Missing Pernille Harder, replaced by Sophie Ingle in the warm up, and the departed Ji So-Yun in midfield we were short of clever balls forward and having been gifted a penalty in the first minute couldn’t build on it.
Sam Kerr scored a really good second but an erroneous flag had her offside.
Their equaliser came when a ball was kicked at Millie Bright from less than a yard and struck her arm. Nobody actually knows what the handball regulations say from one day to the next but it looed harsh under any interpretation.
An update from Mike Riley before the season stressed “The proximity of the player whose hand or arm makes contact with the ball to where the ball was struck from will still be an important consideration for officials when making a decision to award handball or not. Unless it is a Chelsea player.”
Their second came when Kadeisha Buchanan tried to reach around the legs of the Liverpool player to get the ball. It was naïve of the former Lyon defender. Anywhere else on the pitch she would have been adjudged to have won the ball under the new kick-them-up-in-the-air refereeing standards but this ref wanted to make the headlines. Liverpool had no shots at the Chelsea goal that weren’t awarded by the referee.
Emma’s squad lost the first game last season and still prevailed. She will have to get them up for the same trick this time, she was taciturn after the game “I know this team has the ability to recover quickly” was about all she wanted to say.
Tuesday 20 September
Red Bull Salzburg’s Christoph Freund will not be joining as sporting director. Rumours about a done deal seem to have pushed the German club to insist they want to keep Freund and him to have a change of heart.
Wednesday 21 September
We are short one commercial director as Damian Willoughby, appointed to the role earlier this month, has his contract torn up after sending inappropriate messages.
Texting a female agent asking her to be ‘naughty’ is grossly offensive anywhere and the club are making a stand.
Thursday 22 September
Todd’s caretaker portfolio grows again as Chelsea sacked another competent staffer from the backroom. Steve Atkins was director of communications and public affairs was widely admired and leaves the club for Mclaren.
Football Policing Lead chief constable Mark Roberts continues his misguided personal campaign to have all football fans banned for life.
His latest comes as Home Office figures are released showing an increase in arrests. Predictably, if police forces target fans, they are likely to arrest more of us. Some trends are prevalent – smoke flares are far more common than they were before lockdown and hate crimes are actually being taken seriously. There is a worrying new trend of trying to crack down on drugs by using sniffer-dogs and searches among packed crowds. Ask yourself is drugs have ever been a serious problem in football crowds or if a deluded police chief are looking for more offences to justify their bailiwick?
Handing out banning orders has been regressive and are often overturned on appeal. Policemen are just a likely to lie through their teeth about football fans now as they were in 1989.
There were some worrying incidents when fans invading the pitch came into confrontation with players and coaches at the end of last season. It should be possible for senior fans and the police to work together about educating younger supporters. There are huge stresses in society at the moment and having a Football Policing Lead who continually misinforms the press and tells lies about supporters doesn’t help. How this clown keeps his job is a mystery,
Roberts has made a string of inflammatory, incorrect and irrational claims about supporters in recent years. He hates fans and the idea that they might stand up, drink alcohol or otherwise be treated like adults.
In Scotland Roberts was charged with a review of policing which was accused of showing disdain for the Scottish fans and was ridiculed for ignoring the mistreatment of Scottish supporters by the police.
On safe standing he actually said: “People often cite Celtic’s standing area as a success but it has coincided with the growth of the Green Brigade, who bully their own supporters as well as others and almost create a no-go area for sections of the ground that you usually see abroad.” All of which is bullshit.
Standing in Scottish grounds has been a success and the no-go area slander is an actionable lie.
Reporting the latest figures the BBC managed to quote Jordan Henderson and Eric Dier saying fans behaviour had got worse. They cited The Euros final at Wembley and last season’s Champions League final – both of which were catastrophic failures of policing not, certainly not in the latter case, fan behaviour.
Italy U21 0:2 England U21
Conor Gallagher won a penalty as England secured a decent win in Italy. Rhian Brewster scored both goals.
Friday 23 September
Italy 1:0 England
Perhaps Gareth Southgate doesn’t want the responsibility any more. Selecting a back three consisting of a right-back, an incompetent midfielder and a centre-half with the lowest self-confidence since records began. Kyle Walker, Eric Dier and Harry Maguire played so badly they relied on Declan Rice to cover back from midfield. With Bellingham making up the favoured two in midfield they couldn’t find a route through the Italian midfield. Bukayo Saka was left wing-back, with Ben Chilwell left out of the matchday squad.
You’d think they were professionals who practice together every day. Instead, there was little penetration, poor communication and plenty of misplaced passing.
We fell behind when Kyle Walker laydown as Giacomo Raspadori rasped his shot into the far corner and never looked like responding. This against one of the weakest Italy sides in a generation – they are not going to the World Cup.
It was a shockingly incompetent selection and performance. We are relegated from the group without a win in five and with only one goal.
If you are in the mood to sack Gareth Southgate, Thomas Tuchel is free at the moment.
Saturday 24 September
Thiago Silva set a caps record for the Seleção as they beat Ghana 3-0 in Paris. The game was his 108th the most for a centre-half and Tuesday is his chance to close on Cafu’s 142 when Brazil meet Tunisia. Richarlison (two) and Marquinhos with the goals
Sunday 25 September
Chelsea 2:0 Manchester City
Sam Kerr almost got us off to a flier but chose to square her chance instead of shooting, the pass was then just behind Fran Kirby’s run so we had to weather some City pressure. That amounted to an attempted dive for a penalty that the ref didn’t buy, a loose back pass that led to a shot from narrow angle. City looked fitter and faster at the start but Guro Reiten burst forward and her pass was right in Kirby’s stride for 1-0.
Ann-Katrin Berger, returning from cancer treatment, was lively to keep City from an immediate equaliser and was sharp and confident in her every touch.
Lauren James, in her second start, was direct and lively one chance almost rebounding to Kirby before a string of shooting chances led to a handball. Maren Mjelde, on her return from a knee, swept the ball into the top corner. 2-0.
October is going to be the busiest week ever in Chelsea’s history. The men’s team have nine fixtures, the women five, U21s ten and the U18s add a women’s international fortnight there will be at least 22 competitive games involving Chelsea players
Monday 26 September
Boris Johnson lied to us. It shouldn’t come as a surprise but he repeatedly said that the UK government had nothing to do with the Saudi Arabian takeover of Newcastle United when it was up to its neck in it.
The appalling human-rights abuses, murders and war crimes of the Saudi government meant they should never have been allowed to buy an English football team. Public distaste for the takeover saw the government stating that it was a matter for the FA when Lord Gerry Grimstone was acting as an intermediary.
Grimstone was the UK’s investments minister, on Boris’ payroll, when he asked the FA for sight of their legal advice in an attempt to find a ‘way forward’.
Constantly liaising between the government, the Premier League and the Saudis, a sting of emails link Grimstone with government officials and British ambassador in Saudi Arabia.
His intention was made clear in one of the unredacted sections of memos released to Open Democracy under freedom of information legislation, in that he said “Hopefully, we are helping to inject some clarity into a very muddled situation to allow the parties to bring this to the point of decision.”
The takeover was only nodded through when the Premier League said it had “legally binding assurances that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will not control Newcastle United”. Yeah, right. Have you seen Jordie Arabia’s away kit this season?
(more details at: www.opendemocracy.net)
England 3:3 Germany
For all the excitement of the last fifteen minutes, Gareth Southgate’s cry for help – please, please relieve me of the England job before I fuck up the World Cup – was again in evidence.
Tonight, he made few changes – Jude Bellingham was the only standout performance against Italy and he kept his place – despite the previous car-crash Southgate kept the goalkeeper and defence only taking out Kyle Walker for John Stones . Obviously they spent the week working on misreading each other’s intentions, slowing down and telegraphing passing to optimise the German press. Stones, back from suspension, almost passed the ball to Hoffman in front of goal and was replaced by Walker before half time.
The front three were unchanged and didn’t seem to understand when to drop into midfield to help, Bellingham and Rice both worked really hard but were overrun time and again and the complete lack of work on structure or passing was staggering. Everyone was tentative, unsure of how to play football.
It happens to the best of teams from time to time but the manager insisting that he needs to stick to what he has always done
When we did manage to break, Foden and Sterling and Kane all clumsily shanked the ball into touch. Sterling had a couple of shots on target but so far apart he faded out of the half.
Germany dominated possession, had a few personnel changes of their own due to covid, and while not cutting our deep block open, but confidently attacked with five or six players throughout the half while the home side relied on the occasional break.
Maguire hacked down Musiala with almost casual clumsiness. The ex-Chelsea man read the slow predictable pass Maguire lazily played and then the England man hacked him down in the box. Gündogan wrongfooted Pope for 0-1.
Some argue that Maguire, for all his confidence and competence issues at United, hasn’t let England down. That is debateable but what has been lost is any chance to build a younger, more imaginative and more solid defence. Fikayo Tomori won Serie A with AC Milan last season, Marc Guehi made a huge impression at Crystal Palace both are experienced playing in a three and yet haven’t started together for England.
We had to stop ourselves from jumping out of our seat as Kai Havertz lashed in a cracking second. Mason Mount and Bukayo Saka came on with the novel idea of running and playing direct football. Saka worked well for Reece James to cross as Shaw nicked one back and from the kick off the pair again combined to find Mason Mount for the equaliser.
The referee then pulled play back to reassess a penalty, ignored the defender getting to the ball first and awarded the kick for the contact on Bellingham. If it was given against Chelsea we would have been up in arms. Harry Kane scored.
To burst Wembley’s bubble, because England stealing three goals in the last fifteen minutes of a disastrous, relegation-campaign means we are going to win in Qatar – Kai Havertz tapped in when Pope couldn’t hold Sane’s shot
Italy beat Hungary in the other match and progress to the finals next summer.
Tuesday 27 September
Conor Gallagher scored as England U21 came back from a goal down to beat Germany 1-2.
Thiago Silva won his 109th cap and played the full 90-minutes as Brazil thrashed ten-man Tunisia 5-1 in Paris.
Obi John Mikel announced his retirement from football. The player, whose name we never did get right, arrived as a 19-year-old in 2006, amid allegations from Manchester United of kidnapping, and played 249 times. He saved his best for the Champions League final in 2012, where he spent 120 minutes thwarting Bayern at every turn. His name was always a confusion. It appeared in all variations of Mikel John Obi, John Obi Mikel, Obi Mikel John on official documents from the start. Sky Sports always called him John Obi Mikel, his Wikipedia page has him as Mikel John Obi and we always called him Obi John because we have been Star Wars fans since 1977.
Wednesday 28 September
Chelsea 3:1 West Ham United
Behind to a goal scored from a corner awarded when new-girl, Kadeisha Buchanan, was fouled it took most of the rest of the half to grab the equaliser. Sam hit both posts with raspers, and we had chances cleared off the line before Fran Kirby finished neatly.
West Ham were organised enough to frustrate but Sam Kerr’s, possibly offside, second and Millie Bright’s header from a corner gave us a decent margin. Even if Lauren James missed a penalty that would have added gloss.
We are not often on the BBC on a Wednesday night. It felt special.
The squad are still getting up to fitness and gelling. The process might take a few more weeks but we know how formidable they are when it happens.
Chelsea had the most injuries in the Premier League last season and England the most in Europe.
Thomas Tuchel repeated complained that being the only league that didn’t continue with five substitutes had disadvantaged English teams in Europe. With 97 injuries he probably had a point.
The research, carried out by an insurance brokerage, probably to help them sell insurance, also showed that more younger players were picking up injuries in a season where the FA and leagues ignored advice to prioritise the health of players. Given the continuing covid absences and the stress of playing in reduced squad the Premier League insisted on Chelsea fulfilling fixtures other clubs were allowed to postpone – many until after they had strengthened in January – the record number of injuries was probably the result.
Ramires announced his retirement from playing in an Instagram message the day after Obi John. Scorer of the most important goal in Chelsea’s history – ask your dad – Ramires scored 34 goals in 251 appearances between 2010 and 2013. We wish him well on his retirement.