Saturday 1 August
Arsenal 2:1 Chelsea
F. Referees. The second cup final we have had stolen by the officials in four years. Last time they contrived to find no fault in a ‘goal’ that was handball, offside and obstructing the goalkeeper’s line of vision. The incompetent cheat on that occasion was Anthony Taylor.
The incompetent cheat on this occasion was Anthony Taylor.
Taylor was the referee who allowed Harry Maguire to stay on the pitch after he kicked his boot into Michy Batshuayi’s balls back in February.
It is staggering that given his clear bias and incompetence that he was given charge of this match.
The FA Cup final is supposed to be a once in a career game for referees. Especially when they screw up the event as spectacularly as Taylor did in 2017.
This time he awarded a penalty for an offence outside the box. Aubameyang was impeded but not enough to cause him to fall until he dived once he reached the area.
Already hampered by losing Azpilicueta and Pulisic both of Mateo Kovačić’s cards where harsh but the second was for an imaginary offence and killed any chance we had of a comeback.
Grudgingly, Arsenal played well and we shouldn’t have tried three at the back and a high line. It was playing into Arsenal’s strengths.
Wembley is a big pitch to play a smothering game but they have little answer to it.
Pulisic’s goal was one to grace any Wembley occasion and his injury came as he looked to finish another chance in the second-half.
Pedro’s last match for Chelsea ended on a stretcher but word is he is ok.

Being cheated by referees was supposed to stop with VAR. The multiple and chronic failings of that system have been exposed this season. Referees cannot be trusted. The stipulation that a fault has to be clear and obvious has given them the leeway they need to never criticise their colleague on the pitch.
None of today’s failures were the worst we’ve seen this season but if a player is to be sent from the field in a cup final then it should be for something.
Taylor booked Dani Ceballos presumably for trying to get Kovačić sent off and then sent off Kovačić.
Replays of the tackle are clear. No offence has taken place, Kovačić clearly played the ball and made minimal, if any, contact with Xhaka who made the most of it.
To be fair to the BBC the dubbed crowd booed every time the camera was on Taylor for the rest of the game.
Two cup finals ruined by gutless cheat.
Arsenal claim to have won the cup 14 times but two of those will forever be Anthony Taylor’s.

The only good news on a shit day is that Arsenal’s reward is a season of toil in the Europa League. So, fuck them too.

Eddie Howe has left Bournemouth. You would have thought the Cherries would fight tooth and nail to keep the best manager they’ve ever had. The mutual consent might just mean he needs a break. In his statement, after 25-years as player and manager, Howe talked about new a direction. If Bournemouth don’t have firm plans their direction could be down.

Sunday 2 August
Frank has slammed the decision to restart the league on Saturday 12 September. If we beat Bayern Munich, no, it might happen, then we could progress to the final and only have two weeks rest before the new season.
He added that even if we, unthinkable, go out against München the new season start date will not give his players enough rest. Manchester City, United and Wolves are also still involved in European competition.

Monday 3 August
Eddie Newton has been rewarded for winning the Turkish cup with the Trabzonspor job full-time. Eddie has been part of the furniture for so long and wish him all the best in his new role.
Perhaps Süper Lig will start to see Chelsea loanees soon.
There have been rumours all day that we are negotiating with Real Madrid for Sergio Reguilon. Everton offered £18m for the young left-back voted best in La Liga after a season on loan with Sevilla.

Pedro has surgery on his shoulder and concludes his time at the club in a recovery room. We wish him well; it will be difficult to replace the smile and those occasional finishes that took the breath away.

Tuesday 4 August
Brentford 1:2 Fulham
Noisy neighbours again next season. Brentford looked, as we did on Saturday, leggy and out of ideas. After a cagy 90-minutes, Joe Bryant caught them at a free-kick on the tick of half-time in extra-time the Bees deflated and Bryant’s second made Henrik Dalsgaard’s late header a consolation.
We are actually disappointed, not that we don’t love little old Fulham, but Brentford would make a change and have been a model Championship side over the last few years.
Perhaps next year.
Wigan will be in League One next term after losing their appeal against a 12-point deduction for entering administration.

The women received the WSL trophy and medals today and a weird trick of the light makes them all look grey haired in the photos.
The WSL trophy is one of those into which you cannot pour champaign.

Wednesday 5 August
A friend of our Nan adopted a snow leopard a few years ago and was disappointed it never arrived, the Chelsea Foundation’s Lancaster bomber might take as long. At least they know exactly where it is, the RAF Museum has been offering artefacts for adoption under it ‘Hidden Heroes’ scheme and the foundation chose a Lancaster.
It seems somewhat of a tangent, Jewish pilots fought with the RAF and their bravery is being recognised but Jewish servicemen and women fought across all the services, risking torture and execution if caught, but you don’t automatically think of a Lancaster.
They are inviting families who have a story of a Jewish relative who served to get in touch. To collect as many as they can before the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain next year.
Guro Reiten signed a new contract that keeps her with the women until 2023.

Thursday 6 August
Wolves played their last match of the 2019/20 season at Molineaux tonight a year, two weeks and four days after they started it.
Their 1-0 win against Olympiacos means they progress to a single-leg quarter-final against Sevilla and their on-loan left-back Sergio Reguilon in Duisburg on Tuesday. The final is in Cologne Friday 21 August.
The league will revert to three subs after the covid experiment with five has proved to be too much fun. Video Assistant Referees are to be chased to ground by packs of rabid dogs… or, Fifa are taking over responsibility for VAR and have added stipulations about goalkeeper’s moving at penalties but kicks will only be retaken if they make a save or play for Chelsea.

Paddy Power have apologised after an Arsenal fan in a promotional video used homophobic language to describe a Chelsea player… sigh.
There is a bright lining to the cup final that we missed – because Arsenal go into the Europa League group stage with Leicester, Spurs will have to start the first of their three qualifying rounds in September. There is no rest for the wicked.

Friday 7 August
Andy Myers and the academy side have been named Premier League 2 champions on a points-per-game. We were quite magnificent at U23 level last term and ahead. Looking back, Andy paid tribute to the medical and fitness staff that kept his young squad on the pitch.
The women are away at Manchester United on the weekend of the 5/6th of September. Bristol City at home the next week.

Manchester City beat Real Madrid in the untouchables derby. The 4-2 aggregate win means City win the title of most corrupt football club for 2014-20.

At least the weirdo creep is out as Lyon beat Sarri’s Juventus.

Aberdeen’s game against St Johnson will not now go ahead after eight of the Don’s squad went on a Dominic Cummings.
Out at night together in a bar two of the players have tested positive for covid-19, the six others are self-isolating.
Nicola Sturgeon called the match off, reminding clubs that they have been given special dispensation and “when a football club ends up with players infected with Covid – and let’s remember this is not through bad luck but through clear breaches of the rules – we cannot take even the small risk that they spread the infection to other parts of the country”.
Points deductions for future breaches like this have been considered. Sturgeon finished: “they put at risk the return of the professional game.”

Let’s hope no Chelsea player finds themselves ridiculed in such a way.

Charlton, like Newcastle United, have spent much of lockdown waiting to see if their club is going to be under new ownership but both Paul Elliott and Chris Farnell have failed a “qualifying condition” – can’t be the fit and proper person test, you can’t fail the Football League’s test – although the reason remains a secret.
It could be that Paul Elliott, not that Paul Elliott, hasn’t completed the takeover of the company that was proposing to buy Charlton.
That and the solicitor Farnell is under investigation possibly for representing both sides in the takeover.
Charlton fans have been militant and very angry.

Saturday 8 August
Bayern München 4:1 Chelsea XI
Another farce, Bayern, nicely rested and at full strength were allowed a ludicrous degree of latitude in their home stadium. Lewandowski threw himself into our ’keeper to win a penalty – 3-0 up from the first leg and he still feels the need to cheat. Caballero was booked for being in the way of the flying Bayern Player, Emerson was booked for trying to block a back-pass.
It didn’t help that we spread ourselves thin all over the pitch and Kovačić was fouled while being dispossessed for their second.
Callum Hudson-Odoi then had his moment with a brilliant finish but it was ruled out by VAR and Abraham’s bundle late in the first-half at least gave him 18 for the season.
We grew ragged and their late strikes were further insults.
Starting the game 3-0 down it didn’t help that we have been stretched by injuries and players out of contract, while they have enjoyed a five-week holiday.

We were labelled as buying the league when Roman first acquired the club back in 2003 but European leagues now are dying because of the concentration of money.
The Manchester City FFP ruling means the filthy rich in Europe – City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern, PSG and Manchester United – now have a blank cheque and can never be challenged again.
It is sickening to see squads pampered by years of over-spending, disregarding FFP, while clubs like Chelsea and Arsenal, to a lesser extent Tottenham and Everton struggle because we have cut our cloth to meet the rules.
The, later rescinded, transfer ban last summer enabled us to blood a lot of young talent but left us further behind in terms of squad development.
Liverpool also deserve a mention here for playing the system and getting lucky in selling Philippe Coutinho at the same time they banked the proceeds from reaching the 2018 Champions League final. With the right coach and reinvesting all that cash they deserve what they have got over the last two terms.
In long run, the right coach and the brightest young players are not going to win you the league. Manchester City and United have so much more money than the rest of the league that, after Liverpool’s bubble bursts, those two will dominate.
City will overpower United most seasons and periods of adjustment will allow one-off title wins but if City are competently managed there will be nothing to stop them.
For the next twenty years Bayern, City, Real and PSG will dominate Europe – as if they don’t already.
Juventus sacked Maurizio Sarri. Losing in the round of 16 isn’t quite where the Old Lady see themselves. But the Italian game hasn’t been able to compete at the same level for the last ten-years.

Trying to look on the bright side, as the season finishes, we have a lot to be proud of as a club. We were not expected to be as competitive as we have been. Top four, might have been an expectation in recent seasons but with United and Spurs expected to be strong and able to sign new players that was an achievement.

We also trusted one of our own, well, two really, Lampard and Morris are a double act. We learned that our youngsters are ready for this league and the experience of regular first team football has elevated the game of Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Mason Mount and to a lesser extent Fikayo Tomori, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Billy Gilmour.
Christian Pulisic has been a revelation and will benefit for a season under his belt. Most players new to the league need a solid season and pre-season under their belt before fully adapting.
We have new talent to look forward to; Conor Gallagher has had a remarkably good season with Charlton and Swansea; Marc Guehi looks an excellent prospect in defence; Ethan Ampadu should settle and make himself part of the squad – in tandem with Gilmour in midfield is a prospect; new signings Hakim Ziyech from Ajax and Timo Werner from RB Leipzig will need time to settle but are both outstanding players.

We lose Willian and Pedro, and possibly Kepa and Marcos Alonso and Emerson. If we can get fees then all or most of the following will probably also leave: Baba Rahman, Davide Zappacosta, Tiémoué Bakayoko, Danny Drinkwater, Kenedy, Mario Pašalić and Victor Moses.
The Nerazzurri are quibbling about a £10m fee for Moses but he probably will end up at the San Siro once we know the post-covid market.
Michy Batshuayi will also probably depart and while the fees will not be big for most the wages off the books will allow us some leeway.

A left-back, a centre-half and a goalkeeper and we have a balanced, young, exciting and challenging squad.

The coaches have a lot of work to do over the summer too. 3-4-3, 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, we rarely settled to a right tactics for the right game. While being able to change formations mid-match is admirable, it shouldn’t have been quite so necessary quite so often. That said, away at Southampton, Spurs and Wolves were outstanding, not to mention the Ajax games and just before the lockdown we played Liverpool and Everton off the park with Billy Gilmour at the heart of it. Most of the younger players struggled after the break – fewer reserves of stamina and experience – a steady progression should see us finish next season strongly.

Lampard and Morris have a lot of work to do on the defence. A new system and personnel might help but we were near relegation form at corners and set-pieces, we also lost games, painfully, to goals scored on the break. There have some improvements and all the interviews have been saying the right things but Derby County last season were among the worst in the division from set-pieces and conceding on the break…

That said, Liverpool were rubbish at the back until they lavished money on the ’keeper and broke the world record for a defender.

Sunday 9 August
“The time has now come to move on.” Willian conformed his departure from the club following the end of our season yesterday.

The little Brazilian has been under-appreciated by the club, always working hard, turning in performance after performance to drag results out. He played 339 times in a blue shirt after signing from Anzhi Makhachkala in 2013.

Originally in the UK for a medical at Spurs but Willian got the call from Abramovic… and off he went to Stamford Bridge… and he hates Tottenham, he hates Tottenham, he hates Tottenham and he hates Tottenham… becoming one of the most popular players at Stamford Bridge in the process. Willian won two league titles in his seven years as well as a Uefa cup and one each of League and FA cup.

It looks like he is heading to the Ashburton Grove retirement home for ex-footballers and we wish him well.

Callum Hudson-Odoi spent his Sunday playing Sunday League for Saha FC against Lambeth Allstars. The match was an anti-knife-crime. Callum hasn’t got the winning habit as Saha crashed to a 5-3 defeat.

Monday 10 August
Manchester United struggled past the might of FC København after extra-time and thanks to a soft penalty. United have been granted 21 soft penalties this season more than the rest of the top six in England combined. But there is absolutely no favouritism, you understand, not in the era of VAR where we have an objective observer to always find in United’s favour.

Whilst they were sweating it out in the Europa mini-tournament the deadline was passing on their main transfer target. Jadon Sancho will remain a Borussia Dortmund player after United failed to register a bid before the German club’s deadline.

Tuesday 11 August
Boli Bolingoli played for Celtic in their one-each with Kilmarnock despite just having returned for an unauthorised trip to Spain with no quarantine.
Bolingoli has tested negative but had he brought the virus back and into the Celtic training base and then transmitted it on to Rugby Park the repercussions could be enormous. Both club’s players would have to self-isolate and the fixture list, already strained by Aberdeen’s drinking session, might just crack.

The latest breach of what are quite simple regulations, have led the Scottish government to threaten to suspend football.

Chelsea women will take part in the first women’s Community Shield match since 2008 at Wembley on Saturday 29 August. The match will take place before the men’s match on the same day against Manchester City who are still the FA Cup holders because last season’s cup wasn’t finished.

Macclesfield Town have been relegated to the National League after the Football League won an appeal against a points deduction.
Stevenage have been reprieved by the decision of an ‘independent’ panel but the Silkmen have been shafted by the morons who style themselves the English Football League.
Having voluntarily surrendered the name the Football League, a title they owned because they were the first professional league in the world, the ‘EFL’ know a thing or two about being stiffed by marketing men.

EFL have been determined to get rid of Macclesfield in the same way they abandoned Bury last summer. The English Football league have done little or nothing to actually solve the problems of their side of the game. Instead they have been trying to blame clubs for their own problems without having established any adequate rules for clubs to follow or systems to exist in.

The timing isn’t great for Stevenage either as they have less than a month to get ready for a league campaign when they have been preparing for the National League. The financial bonus of staying in the league should more than compensate everyone at Broadhall Way.

Wednesday 12 August
Atalanta were the moral victors but PSG brought on £350m worth of substitutes and swung it at the death to win their quarter-final 2-1.
It looks like the morally indefensible financially doped clubs will dominate forever more.
When you think the cost of the PSG subs could subsidise League One and Two for 12-years you get idea of the imbalances in the game…
… we know, it is rich coming from a Chelsea fan with all our Roubles… but it is the way of the game forever more… If you want a picture of the future imagine watching Manchester City play PSG in the Champions League final, forever.

Thursday 13 August
RB Leipzig booked their place in the semi-finals with a 2-1 over Atletico Madrid.

The lesser spotted Serbian midfielder Daniel Pantić will spend the season in his homeland with FK Cukaricki. If there is a second-wave, and it looks increasing likely, many young footballers would do well to be near home.

Jacob Maddox meanwhile, has moved permanently to Vitória de Guimarães. Jacob was a shining star with our youth team, eclipsing Mason Mount, but now 21 with a poor loan to Tranmere last term he hasn’t had the best time. He really is a prospect and the Portuguese top flight should bring out the best. We wish him well.

Friday 14 August
Barcelona 2:8 Bayern München
We might have been beaten 7-1 on aggregate but at least we had two matches, one of them understrength. It puts Frank’s team and their achievement into a better perspective.

Willian is an Arsenal player on a three-year contract. He looks weird in a red and white kit but then so did David Luiz.

There will be no replays in either League or FA cup next season and the two-legged semi in the League cup will be a single match.

The FA finally listened to sense and appointed an experienced coach to lead the women’s national team. Sarina Wiegman was coach of the Netherlands national team and takes over in September 2021… because of the contract the FA signed with Phil Neville. The lesser Neville will continue his lame-duck role, gradually isolating everyone, clinging to the only high-profile job in the sport he is ever going to hold.
To be fair Wiegman will take her national team to the Olympics next year.

Saturday 15 August
Manchester City 1:3 Olympique Lyonnais
We might disparage the wealth and the cheating heart of Manchester City but the difference tonight was almost identical to our display against München. Tired, depleted and far from their best City looked like old men.
It didn’t stop us laughing beer down your nose as Sterling ballooned over a tap-in just before they broke for their third. And Pep failed to get a side past the quarter-final for the umpteenth year in a row.

Sunday 16 August
Manchester United made it a pair of Mancunian failures this weekend as they fell at the semi-final stage of a competition for the third time this season watching Sevilla walk away with a 2-1. Literally watching as former Newcastle loanee Luuk de Jong swept in the winner.

Monday 17 August
Obi John Mikel is back in the UK with Stoke City. Given his experience and that he is only 33 – yes, after decades in our midfield and a career in Turkey with Trabzonspor Obi John is only 33 – Stoke should have a couple of seasons of real maturity and experience at the heart of their midfield.

Jamie Cumming will be keeping for Stevenage this season with Burger King emblazoned on his kit. Stevenage will be hoping for a better season than last when they saved their league status only when Macclesfield went down in their place.

Tuesday 18 August
RB Leipzig 0:3 Paris Saint-Germain
Yeah, so PSG walloped Leipzig to reach their first Champions League final. They have certainly paid enough for the privilege. We find ourselves in the awful position of having to hold our noses and hope Bayern Munich or Lyon can down the Paris beast.

Bristol Rovers, Oxford United and Walsall in the EFL trophy group stage. The men against boys exercise has been, despite the enormous opposition, apathy and indifference it initially drew, very positive for the academy players who have taken part.

Trevoh Chalobah signed a new deal and will play next season with Lorient in the French top tier. Trevoh has been impressive in loans at Ipswich and Huddersfield in the Championship in the last few years and will be working on his already versatile role in defence or midfield.

Cercle Brugge snapped up Ike Ugbo who also signed a new contract and will spend the season in the Belgian league. Cercle have the distinction of playing in the same home kit as our junior school back when 9-year-olds played on full adult pitches with full sized goals.

Wednesday 19 August
Olympique Lyon 0:3 Bayern München
Bayern had to make this look like toil so we aren’t disgusted with the ease they show in brushing aside opponents. They only real hope for the final is if both Bayern and PSG are sucked into an alternate reality with Dido Harding.

Denise Reddy has been appointed assistant coach to Emma Hayes’ squad. Reddy and Hayes worked together before at the Chicago Red Stars about ten years ago. From her experience in the US, Scandinavia and Europe it seems we have recruited a very experienced coach.

Minor coaching appointments have been made elsewhere as Ronald Koeman picks up the mess at Barcelona. He has been given a two-year contract with the instruction to keep the seat warm for Xavi. It remains to be seen which players will be left at the club in a year’s time.

Fixtures will be out tomorrow. The guys who put them together like to mythologise the complexity of the process but it seems this year it has happened in record time.

Thursday 20 August
Fixtures are out and we start away at Brighton and Hove Albion on Monday 14 September. Should still be good weather for our trip to the seagulls. Liverpool is our first at the Bridge with a trip to the Throstles before a home game with Palace.
We have to wait for November to play Spurs and Boxing day to play the Gooners. We are not playing City again this year but our first against them is in January. And it is nearly Christmas before we face Leeds. Bielsa’s side start away at Liverpool.

Izzy Brown will continue his development with Sheffield Wednesday. Izzy had a big impact at Luton last term in a struggling side. When fit Izzy has made chances and scored goals during all of his loans, he deserves a breakthrough season. Wednesday’s 12-point handicap at the start of the season might hand him his chance.

The club sneaked out confirmation that they have bagged Xavier Mbuyamba from Barcelona. The Dutch defender only signed on at Camp Nou last summer after he had a trial with us under the transfer-ban. He started his career with MVV Maastricht and got as close to the first team as one appearance on the bench of Barcelona B. He was in the U19 at Barcelona and played the Uefa Youth League groups stage.
Perhaps Frank’s promotion of youth to first-team startdom is having a pied piper effect on Europe’s young players…

… Kai Havertz is still expected as we edge closer to €100m Leverkusen asked for in the first place.

Friday 21 August
If you need something to cheer you up, if it is overcast or raining just think that Harry Maguire spent the night in a Mykonos nick. His rowdy crowd were arrested for attacking and injuring police officers as well as attempted bribery. Harry is said to be cooperating fully… which is United club code for repeatedly asking what “do you know who I am?” is in Greek.

Victor Moses and old boss Antonio Conte couldn’t finish off Sevilla who bagged a sixth Europa League in the last few years. The match had a lively start with four goals in 30 first-half minutes but settled into a stale rhythm as Sevilla smothered everything Inter tried. The Spanish side should have been down to ten in the incident that led to Inter’s first from the spot. Victor couldn’t do much in the last quarter of the match or pitch.

Armando Broja is the first off to Vitesse Arnhem this season. Armando was an impressive finisher last season and made his debut against Everton just before the lockdown. The Eredivisie remains in the broadcasting wilderness, the absurdly named Premier Sports, so it will be difficult to follow his progress.

Sunday 23 August
Paris Saint Germain 0:1 Bayern München
Bayern are champions for the sixth time and however unpleasant it is to see Bavarichester United win something they kept the cup away from the stain on the game that are the Emir of Qatar’s plaything.
Watching the serial diving cheat Neymar crying is going to replace watching Ronaldo weep as the sport’s most satisfying experience.
Qatar you’ll remember is building a corrupt World Cup literally on the bones of dead workers imported to build their grandiose scheme to dot the desert with vast empty stadiums.
Uefa fixed its investigation into PSG’s financial fair play breaches after they’d spent £400m in one summer, by clearly and illegally using an evaluation of the fraudulent sponsorship deal signed with the Qatar Tourism Authority for “nation building”. The deal was independently valued at less than 5m euro per-season but the Qatar Tourism Authority pay PSG £90m a year for a sponsorship aim that has virtually zero visibility.
The corruption sinks in when you realise that Nasser al-Khelaifi, PSG chairman, sits on UEFA’s executive committee and the Qatari media company BeIN pays Uefa billions for broadcasting rights.

Monday 24 August
Chelsea XI 2:0 Charlton Athletic XI
We missed the game on Saturday but goals for Thierno Ballo and George Nunn gave the academy a win over Charlton.

Tuesday 25 August
Harry Maguire is probably the first England player to be placed in an England squad on the same day he is placed in a Greek gaol. Maguire was found guilty of aggravated assault, resisting arrest and repeated attempted bribery but still made the England squad. We exaggerate, Maguire’s offences are deemed misdemeanours in Greece and all he picks up is a criminal record and a 21-month suspended sentence.
His lawyers tried to spin a tale about mysterious Albanian’s attempting to abduct his sister and the police attacking him and his group. The police, for their part, have been fairly consistent and have evidence that Maguire stood in the police station shouting “do you know who I am? I’m the Manchester United captain, I’m very rich, I can give you money to let us go.”
Maguire was represented in court by a top human rights lawyer, the kind of brief seldom seen in regional magistrate courts in Greece and even then his legal team could not answer how Maguire knew the alleged abductors were Albanian when he was drunk enough to lamp a copper. Ever game to keep bad publicity repeating on him, Maguire immediately announced that he has asked the whole sordid business to be dredged up again on appeal.
After a day’s excitement Harry was dropped from the England squad. Given that Raheem Sterling was dropped last year after a fracas in the canteen, Maguires initial nod for the squad would appear to suggest there are still different expectations at St George’s Park.

Tammy and Mason are both in the England squad and neither is likely to be deselected.

Jamal Blackman will play with Rotherham United in next season’s Championship. A broken leg has hampered the big ’keeper’s development in the last two years but his 24 appearances with Sheffield United in their 2017/18 season proved he is good enough another season on loan should prove he is fit enough.

Pedro is officially a Roma player and we wish him all the best.

Wednesday 26 August
Breaking transfer news and Marc Guehi is going on loan to Swansea City for the 20/21 season. And Ben Chilwell signed from Leicester City for in excess of £50m. Chilwell is a really strong left-back and the fee is expected for a current England international who is still only 23.
The deal means we have already spent £128m on players before the Kai Havertz fee is added. It could be that we are doing three windows business all in one go but it also means we are going to have to park the criticism of PSG, Real and City.
And to think, we moaned about no new arrivals in December.

Mateo Kovačić is our player of the season. Honestly we thought Mason Mount was assured that award but Kovačić has improved so much over the season we can see it.
Beth England is the outstanding choice as women’s player of the season and Fikayo Tomori’s outrageous strike against Wolves won goal of the season. Billy Gilmour, obviously, won academy player of the season.

Anthony Barry has been appointed assistant coach. Barry joins from troubled Wigan where he was working with Paul Cook.
The rest of the coaching team stay the same.

England U21 squad included Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi. All can step up permanently to the national first-team squad this season.

Busy day – the friendly away at Brighton on Saturday has been selected as a test event for a few home fans to be readmitted. The official line is that the experiment will allow the clubs and government to trial methods for keeping fans safe. This government, keeping people safe… don’t get us started.

Thursday 27 August
If it is Thursday it must be a French defender. Malang Sarr, 21, joins on a free from OGC Nice and will be loaned out. Sarr is described as promising but raw. An U21 international he has 119 appearances for the Eagles. He might notice a slight climate difference between Cobham and the Côte d’Azur.

Reports that as many as six Chelsea players have tested positive for covid and two more were isolating for two weeks are difficult to confirm but Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Christian Pulisic and Fikayo Tomori are all missing. Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Emerson and Michy Batshuayi are all also absent from pre-season training.

Thiago Silva has passed a medical in Paris ahead of his signing.

Friday 28 August
Thiago Silva, undoubtedly one of the best defenders of all time, is a Chelsea player for the next twelve months with an option. Silva has clearly been brought in to bring his experience to the defence, it will be his voice running the back line. Expect our performance at corners and free-kicks to improve.

Saturday 29 August
Chelsea 2:0 Manchester City
Millie Bright blasted us into a lead to spare Sam Kerr’s blushes as the Australian missed a hat-trick of presentable chances – more accurately a double hat-trick of clear scoring opportunities. To be fair, Ji and England also missed chances in a game we could have won by a wider margin.
Fran Kirby made an effective return in midfield where Sophie Ingle was forceful. Similarly, Melanie Leupolz had a quietly effective and authoritative debut.
City for their part were bright early on, playing diagonals down the wings but when it didn’t work they looked clueless and off the pace. They didn’t stand a chance after Jill Scott walked for a second yellow card.
Erin Cuthbert threaded in the loose ball after Beth England forced a clearance.
A trophy winning start to the season for Emma Hayes’ side.

Brighton & Hove Albion 1:1 Chelsea
Very promising start as Ziyech dug out a deep cross and Callum Hudson-Odoi’s ‘header’ fell to Timo Werner after just five minutes. The few wags who had been let in as an experiment had just started “can you hear the Chelsea sing?” when Werner scored.
The rest was a bit of a slog as tied legs and minds tried to achieve quicker passing and more penetration… sadly we found little of either and a late penalty sent the 2,500 fans home with some consolation.

The U23 side beat Crystal Palace 3-1 with goals from Marcel Lewis, Tariq Uwakwe and Jon Russell. There are rumours of a 5-2 win over Bournemouth U18s are circulating but there are few details.