Tuesday 4 May
Chelsea announced that fan representatives will be invited into some board meetings. Three fans will be picked, they will not have voting rights, will only be present four times a year and will have no input to player or academy decisions. The confidentiality clauses mean we might never know what their input actually amounts to.
There will be a huge rush to put hats into rings but it sounds like a very limited role. Apparently, fans groups have been consulted, nobody phoned us, sarcasm is expected to play no part in the role.
It is a start on a very long road but it is a start.
It will be Manchester City in the final. Weird that the two teams banned from this year’s competition for cheating FFP played out a semi-final – cheating pays.
Wednesday 5 May
Uefa Champions League
Semi-final 2nd leg
Chelsea 2:0 Real Madrid
(Chelsea win 3-1 on aggregate)
Where to start? We controlled this so masterfully it was almost like a training game at times but this is Real Madrid, relaxing was never an option.
Timo Werner had a good night tucking one in from offside early on before opening the scoring when Havertz’s deft chip came back off the bar. The ball took so long to drop to the German striker that there was time for a lap of the living room before the ball hit the net.
Havertz epitomised the drive our attack brought to the game. He doesn’t look strong but his drive and elegance kept us on the front foot and made chances for those around him. Sergio Ramos appeared to be following Havertz around like a puppy.
The half arrived with just two serious saves from Edouard Mendy as he leapt across his goal to tip round or over Karim Benzema shots. At the weekend he was doing the same job as Fulham sought points at the Bridge and the Cottagers created the better openings.
The second-half was anxious for all the worst reasons. Madrid never really threatened but we kept missing chances, Havertz, N’Golo Kanté and Mount all missed presentable openings before substitute Pulisic set Mount up for the finish that means one of our own scored the goal that confirmed our place in the European Cup final.
There were colossal performances in blue shirts across the pitch, Kanté was the metronome, Antonio Rüdiger the rock, Azpilicueta brought his experience to captaincy, Christensen snuffed out threats and Thiago Silva could have had a brace from thumping headers.
Real look spent. They brought back Ramos and Eden Hazard but neither had much of an impact. Hazard back at the Bridge was predicted here but we didn’t imagine that nobody would be there to witness it. In the opening few minutes Andreas Christensen carried out one of those hacking tackles Hazard was so accustomed to in English football, just to welcome Eden back. He did manage to wriggle into the box for one late chance but Madrid made the mistake of allowing one of the world’s greatest wingers to play as a 10, drifting between midfield and attack he didn’t get the ball in positions where he could influence the game.
It sounds harsh but with the work done by Frank Lampard and Jody Morris to bring through the youth and the players brought in the summer with Eden’s fee we don’t actually miss the mercurial Belgian. We looked the younger, more energetic and more creative force and we will not be underdogs in Istanbul.
Tottenham Hotspur 0:2 Chelsea
Almost overlapping the semi-final was the girl’s climb back to the top of the table ahead of the last match on Sunday. Sam Kerr scored on in each half to make it 20 for the season but if it wasn’t for Becky Spencer in the Spurs goal we could have won this one by a hat full.
Reading visit on Sunday and we sit two points ahead of City with a plus three goal difference. A draw might be enough but City are away to West Ham who are more than capable of losing goals.
Thursday 6 May
Turkey, venue for the all-English Champions League final, is in full lockdown with over 22,000 new cases a day. The optimistic news is that they will start to ease restrictions on May 17th. The final will still be twelve days away but the chances of any of us being allow to travel are still up in the air.
Aston Villa offered their ground as the Championship play-off final means Wembley is booked already. Uefa politely declined. Apparently all the executives have had their hotels booked for ages and cannot get cancellations and don’t fancy B&B in Handsworth. It would feel like an old-fashioned FA Cup semi too, which might not be such a bad thing.
Eden Hazard apologised to Real Madrid fans for laughing and joking with Chelsea players after their dismissal last night. He seemed delighted to be home and chatting with old colleagues but doing it on the pitch after that defeat was probably insensitive.
Meanwhile, United struggled into the Europa League final 8-5 on aggregate with
Friday 7 May
Blackburn Rovers U23 2:4 Chelsea U23
The peach outfit got, hopefully, its final run out as the development squad clinched second in the Premier League 2 table.
Henry Lawrence finished two passes from Harvey Vale in the first-half to give us the lead against stiff pressure from Rovers.
The hosts hit back in the second but Brian Fiabema restored the two-goal cushion but it took a Harvey Vale goal to re-restore the cushion towards the end as Rovers scored a second.
It has been a tough campaign for the academy sides
The government waited until the day after the elections to announce that Turkey had been added to the red list of countries we are not allowed to travel to. Grant Shapps – the most incompetent stain in this government’s underpants – made a simultaneous offer to hold the final in the UK.
The move really complicates everything. Instead of 4,000 lucky Blues flying out to Istanbul the red list designation will not be reviewed until the day before the final. Not only will fans not be allowed to travel to Turkey but the players will not be allowed to either. The government could issue elite athlete exemptions but there is no precedent.
Without exemptions the players would have to isolate for 10 days in a government approved hotel, which will probably bearable if you’ve won.
This government will stoop to anything to win the popular vote. Everyone would like the final in the UK but red listing Turkey three weeks before the kick-off is really blackmailing Uefa. Why they bother is unsure it seems you will vote for them no matter what. How many of your friends and neighbours have to be killed by posh, idiot, public school boys and their callous indifference for you to stop voting for the fuckers.
Chelsea have taken the slap on the wrist handed down by Uefa. Nine of the twelve clubs who threatened the breakaway have agreed to take a 5% reduction in revenue from Uefa competitions and agreed to pay, between them, £13m towards grassroots and youth football as a gesture of ‘goodwill’ and not a fine, you understand. The ‘reintegration measures’ include a fine of €100m if they seek to join an unauthorised competition again and €50m if they breach any Uefa commitments.
Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona have not accepted the punishment and Uefa said they “will deal with those clubs subsequently.” Bans from European competition are expected.
We will be able to go to the game against Leicester on Monday 18 May – or at least 8,000 should be able to attend. Tickets will go to season ticket holders.
After all that a game of football took place and Leicester City blew up at home to Newcastle, a couple of late strikes couldn’t mask the scale of the reverse – 2-4. The win means Newcastle are safe, or at least need one more point.
Saturday 8 May
Manchester City 1:2 Chelsea
They made some changes, we made some changes, this was really a City XI against a Chelsea XI with both managers being cagey ahead of a match that might be more important in three weeks.
We started well, after about ten minutes of ineffective home pressure we played our way into the game. Threading the ball through City’s press but finding space in midfield. City might have been playing an elaborate bluff ahead of the final but a tactical 5-1-4 seemed to give us more space to play into.
For all their possession City had no penetration until Christensen pulled a muscle in trying to clear, while being pushed over by Jesus, and Sterling had to shoot after Aguero mis-controlled.
While we were trying to get a substitute on Jesus flung himself across the excellent Billy Gilmour, to win a penalty but Edouard Mendy caught the pathetic Panenka with one hand. Sergio Aguero is out of contract next month.
The second period was a little hesitant and disjointed. We managed to create pressure but wasted shots from distance. Until a careless pass allowed Azpilicueta to break and Pulisic set up Ziyech to drill the equaliser from the edge of the area.
Moments later and the outside of James’ boot found Kanté running free the Frenchman fed Gilmour and the goal signs flashed in the youngster’s eyes as he tried to work a shooting angle. He deserved the chance for being harried and harassed all afternoon but never buckling.
Early on Raheem Sterling got away with a yellow when his studs-up follow through should have seen red. Laporte hacked Werner down on halfway, denying the German the chance to break and then flipped a gesture to the referee on the sound of the whistle. So, he should have been booked for the foul, denying a break and dissent. Perhaps PGMOL cannot afford City’s legal fees. Jesus leads a charmed life – the little feck was full of snide flicks, pushes, kicks and barges and didn’t receive a card until hacking down Pulisic who was flying past him.
When Sterling threw himself to the ground after waiting for Zouma’s challenge there was no second yellow. Pundits moaned that it was a penalty but Sterling slows down waits for the contact and throws himself over. Its clever but it is diving.
Getting the winner was difficult. Werner was offside in finishing with just over ten minutes to go, the substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi was offside in finishing from James’ cross, Alonso chipped wide when he could have found Werner in the middle before, right at the death, Hudson-Odoi slipped the ball through for Werner and Alonso bundled in the cutback.
The result moves us up to third. After Leicester lost last night, Leeds thrashed Spurs 3-1 and it was left to Liverpool to keep up the challenge for fourth by beating Southampton.
With all the changes ahead of this game, it wasn’t anything like a clear indication of what might happen in Istanbul, Villa Park or wherever, but it cannot hurt to put the bogey side thought into their heads. First Wembley now this; a late setback next time we meet might just see heads go down.
Tottenham Hotspur U18 0:1 Chelsea U18
The production values on Spurs youth games is shocking. Today’s game was broadcast by one of the player’s dad holding a damp camcorder. He had found some tissue to clean the lens at half-time just in time for Dion Rankine finally finish one of the dozen chances we created.
We didn’t have it all our own way but held on for the win.
Arsenal at home one Wednesday morning.
Congratulations to: Norwich and Watford on automatic promotion to the Premier League. Brentford, Swansea, Barnsley and Bournemouth will contest the play-offs. At the bottom Wayne Rooney has realised that Frank Lampard is a better manager as his Derby side avoid relegation with almost the last kick. Rotherham were leading away at Cardiff and squandered dozens of chances before the Blue Birds equaliser means the Rams’ chaotic 3-3 with Sheffield Wednesday was good enough – just – as Wednesday go down with Rotherham and Wycombe.
Up from League Two Cheltenham, as champions for the first time, Cambridge United and Bolton Wanderers. Morecambe, Newport, Forest Green and Tranmere contest the play-offs. Down for a while have been Southend and Grimsby.
League One finishes off tomorrow.
Sunday 9 May
Chelsea 5:0 Reading
The women triumph again. Retaining the WSL in style against Reading.
There are always fewer nerves when you open the scoring after 68 second. Melanie Leupolz did so by volleying in a corner routine and while Reading are tough opponents and even got a few shots away, we have Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby who combined for a flashing finish just before the break.
Manchester City needing to win and for us to faulter could only miss a first-half penalty at West Ham.
Reading started the second-half like wolves, harrying, stalking and attacking but we have Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby who combined for a flashing finish just after the break.
We weren’t allowed to be at our best as Reading closed down and disrupted, despite their best effort at times we tried too hard, passes were over hit, attempted flicks didn’t come off. When we are not fluent we are determined and the hard work on display was testament to the coaching and desire of the players.
To vary things a bit Kirby found Kerr’s run and the Australian volleyed home. Erin Cuthbert bundled in the fifth and despite plenty of late chances that was that for another league triumph.
A word for the retirement of Fara Williams whose last game this was. Fara started at Chelsea as a youngster in 2001, is a committed Chelsea fan, who made her name at Charlton, Everton and later Arsenal and Reading. She made a record 172 England caps in the last 20 years scoring 40 goals. Emma Hayes presented her with a signed Chelsea shirt before the match and Williams has taken most of her coaching badges so, you never know where she might show up.
After the whining from Manchester about last season’s title being resolved on points-per-game, despite all the leagues in the world, that could not be completed, being resolved in the same way, this has been an unquestionable league triumph.
In the other league, Everton beat West Ham 0-1 to leave the Hammers six points behind us and five behind Leicester and West Brom sank back into the Championship after losing to Arsenal
Congratulations in League One to Hull City and Peterborough both already confirmed as promoted, Hull as champions, Blackpool, Sunderland, Lincoln and Oxford United make the play-offs as Charlton and, in a big way, Portsmouth miss out. Pompey were sixth this morning but lost 0-1 at home to Accrington Stanley. Rochdale, Northampton, Swindon and Bristol Rovers bow out to League Two next season.
Monday 10 May
Fulham crumpled back into the Championship after they gave up against Burnley, whose 0-2 win was enough to keep them up. Fulham were abject, they passed the ball around politely but have an aversion to shooting.
With West Brom and Sheffield United also already down it is the first time that all three relegation places have been filled with three games left to play.
Tuesday 11 May
The Champions League final could be held almost anywhere as Wembley was agreed for the final before the government announced they would not waive the quarantine for the 2,000 or so journalists, Uefa officials, sponsors and others. So, Portugal has been volunteered and looks likely.
Wednesday 12 May
Chelsea 0:1 Arsenal
Well, if we had to have one duff performance between now and the end of the season, better tonight than in either of the two finals.
This defeat, wholly self-inflicted, means having third in our grasp at kick-off both West Ham and Liverpool could be breathing down our necks for fourth place.
Jorginho can thank Kepa, why always him, for racing back to stop his back pass becoming the most comical own-goal in history but we looked jaded and off the pace. Mason Mount had chances to at least equalise but Arsenal, having played like a bunch of strangers for months suddenly worked hard to close down and threw their bodies into blocks like they had some hope of achieving anything other than ninth in the league this season.
Chelsea U18 1:2 Arsenal U18
Duff performances abounded today as our bright start faded. They scored two, really soft, goals before the break and Joe Haigh’s effort was brilliant but a consolation.
Thursday 13 May
Porto will host the European Cup final with 6,000 fans from each club in the stadium for the match. As compromises go it isn’t as good as holding the match at Wembley but it is better than Turkey. The Estádio do Dragão has been home to Porto since being developed for Euro 2004.
The Premier League and Sky announced a renewal of the TV deal without the usual bidding process. BT and Amazon retain their parts of the deal and the government have nodded it through.
The promise is of stability with £100m for the pyramid to help ease covid induced financial pressures further down.
The roll-over deal, that needed government collusion because it flies in the face of competition, runs until 2025.
The new home kit is another steaming pile of Nike. The more that American company with no understanding of this club, its history or what its fans want keep churning out crap like this the more we need to get proper representation on the board. Who in the club agreed with Nike that we should playing this shit for a season… sorry, shirt..? Probably the same idiot who thought the super league a good idea.
They say it is inspired by the 1960s but nobody in that decade would be seen dead in anything quite so confused. It is a moronic pattern that mixes zigzags and chequerboard designs, either might have worked but mixing them together?
Friday 14 May
The women arrived in Sweden safe and sound. They will train in Gothenburg tomorrow. Maren Mjelde travelled with the party even though she is injured and the youngsters Aggie Beever-Jones and Jorja Fox also travelled, probably for the experience but if you’ve got your boots…
Fran Kirby was travelling as the new Football Writer’s Association’s player of the year for the second time.
No clear idea about travelling arrangements for Porto. Rumours that fans will be bussed straight from the plane to the stadium and dumped back on a flight the second the final whistle has sounded are scare stories – so far.
Saturday 15 May
Chelsea 0:1 Leicester City
If you have to be robbed of a cup final then Leicester are probably the only team you could take it from. Except for the mawkish rubbish the BBC broadcast all day, as eight-year-old Gary Lineker was allowed to pour out every emotion he has stored up since 1969.
The muddled and ineffectual performance of Wednesday night translated straight through to the final. We dithered, after a couple of early breaks when Timo was completely unsupported by runners we faded into sideways possession and little penetration.
They looked as shocked to find themselves in a final as we did and barely managed to get over half way but they worked hard enough to keep us out.
The selective application of the rules is infuriating as a clear handball led to their goal but the ref and VAR were not interested – why spoil the selected narrative. In reality we should have closed Tielemans down but it was a good finish. It was also Leicester’s only effort at our goal.
Our midfield was woefully uncreative. Jorginho did not play a single incisive pass; square, sideways and backwards. Every corner went straight back to our goalkeeper in the second-half. We have dried up at the worst time.
Mason Mount had a real dig at the end only for Schmeichel to claw the ball away. Our equaliser came with just two minutes left as Ben Chilwell silenced the boos by bundling the ball over the line.
The VAR offside decision was absurd. The still for the line to be drawn on clearly shows the ball has already left Thiago Silva’s boot. So, they are measuring the player offside after the ball has been played. If you take the play back one frame to when the ball is kicked Chilwell is onside. It is a disgrace and against the laws of the game. But PGMOL keep insisting that offside is now an objective fact and the eight-year-old Gary Lineker wasn’t going to question it.
As it is we have lost two finals in a row and Leicester become the 44th tam to lift the FA Cup for the first time.
It was an absurd decision to allow Nike to dictate that this final be played in next year’s kit. The yellow stripe was a nice touch as a tribute to the 1970 side but the jazzy zig-zag/chequered effort was doomed to failure. In 2008 some muppet made the decision that we should play the Champions League final in the new 08/09 kit instead of the one we had worn all season. It is like renaming a boat, precedent is that the thing will sink first time out.
The bad news is that the women will be wearing the unlucky, ugly new threads tomorrow as well. Hopefully, Emma will be using today’s disappointment as a spur for her girls who trained in the Gamla Ullevi stadium before returning to the hotel to watch the cup final.
Chelsea U18 0:3 Fulham U18
The day didn’t start well for omens as Fulham thrashed our U18s to win the southern section. We started both halves brightly but didn’t take the chances we could make and couldn’t stop them scoring at the other end on the break. It was a strong Chelsea side with four U23 regulars strengthening the line-up.
Fulham have won the southern section two seasons in a row and they well deserved their win here. It was a shame we had to watch it on Fulham’s website rather than our own.
It has been a transitional season for all the academy sides. The obstacles faced at all levels trying to complete a season under covid restrictions and lockdowns cannot be forgotten.
There will be a certain amount of satisfaction about the players who have progressed but frustrations as well.
Sunday 16 May
Chelsea 0:4 Barcelona
Fucking Nike and their unlucky kit. If you want to know what kind of company we have allied ourselves with watch Nike’s Big Bet on Sky Documentaries. Why a company would want to
Barcelona had seven players who played in the final two-years ago and it showed all the way through. They looked like they trained and played against men’s sides, while we looked at sea.
Giving a goal away within a minute is not a good way to start and as the ball looped into her own net from a deflection of Leupolz you wondered if it was our night.
They were gifted a penalty when the striker ran into the defender. The officials gave them everything they asked for all night, flagged us offside when the ball was played by a defender and awarded them throws when the ball clearly came off a Spanish player last. It was niggling on top of their domination.
As with the Cup final in ’94 we were three down from their first real effort on target. It was a well worked move but we were already shellshocked.
We didn’t help by lumping long balls over their backline. It is a tactic if your opponents are playing a high-line but it isn’t as effective if they are sitting deep in clear lines. They had a screen of four or five in front of our defenders as they tried to play out and we couldn’t find a way through. Almost as if our league is too easy and we aren’t challenged enough.
Kerr was feeding off scraps and the one ball that found her in the first half she flashed it high and wide. Just before… neither of our full backs covered themselves in glory for the fourth as one gave the ball away needlessly and the other watched as her winger walked past.
But what was really shocking was that we clearly had not prepared for this. In all the celebrations in reaching this stage we seem to have neglected to prepare for Barcelona’s style. BT Sport are guilty of over egging their coverage somewhat. They created an impression that we couldn’t lose.
The Spanish champions outnumbered us in defence, they outnumbered us in midfield and they walked through our defence as if it wasn’t there. Each Barcelona player was faster to the ball in every breakdown. When we needed calm heads and invention we weren’t able to find them, even Ji when she has a free-kick on the stroke of half-time she tamely played it to their ’keeper.
The second-half started brightly, including not winning a penalty for a clear barge in the back.
Suddenly we could exert pressure, play through them and cause problems. If only the first-half had started like this.
It didn’t seem to be our night when the ball did break loose in their box it fell behind the blue shirt but when we did get chances we suffered a rush of blood to the head. It was as if we were all flustered. We knew we needed to be at our best and played our worst game of the season.
It was a bad day all round as Liverpool’s goalkeeper scored an injury time winner to move a point behind us in fifth. Effing Baggies couldn’t even hold on for a draw.
Monday 17 May
Harry Kane endeared himself to every Spurs fan by announcing that he wants to leave White Hart Lane in order to win trophies.
Tuesday 18 May
Chelsea 2:1 Leicester City
The lucky kit was back tonight and we had Antonio Rüdiger’s thigh and Jorginho’s calm instep to thanks for the points that take us back up to third. Thomas Tuchel was adamant that nothing had been achieved yet but players and fans celebrated being back together at the final whistle.
The fans, back for the first time this year, and hearty “Timo. Timo, Timo” rang round the ground inside the first few minutes. The young German looked genuinely perplexed to hear his name sung by a crowd.
Referees have not changed in the absence of fans. Mike Dean watched a studs into the heel challenge by Söyüncü on Christian Pulisic and gave nothing and then watched Tielemans kick Timo Werner over in the area and awarded Leicester a free-kick. VAR are obviously on the sherry again. Just like the weekend a free-kick was awarded every time a defender threw himself to the ground. It was absurd.
The offside for Werner’s first finish was actually offside but the handball to deny the second was hypocritical. At the weekend they didn’t give handball because it was accidental. Tonight, Werner is clearly pushed in the back and so, by this measure, Timo’s handball was accidental too.
Frustration was starting to build but Reece James’ persistence won a corner and Rüdiger was in the right place as Jamie Vardy flicked it on.
The Penalty Werner won was less of a kick than the one he was denied in the first-half but was a foul in the box.
The returning Kovacic was fouled off the ball by Ndidi in the build-up to their snatched goal. The Nigerian did win the ball but he took out our Croatian on his way to the prize.
Great to see the enthusiastic reception when the players kneeled to affirm that Black Lives Matter. The Premier League’s tepid No Room for Racism campaign is worthy but the players are kneeling in recognition of the murder of George Floyd and the campaign that followed.
Earlier in the day Roy Hodgson announced that he will leave Crystal Palace at the end of the season. We had a lot of negative things to say about Hodgson when he was England’s worst manager but even we will be slightly sad to see him retire. Roy was always a humorous and friendly figure who has helped the careers of hundreds of players and coaches.
Wednesday 19 May
Billy Gilmour will be in the Scotland squad for the Euros. Steve Clarke announced three young players, Billy is joined by Ranger’s Nathan Patterson and Celtic’s David Turnbull.
A good showing in the summer could well help Billy force his way into the first-team on a more regular basis.
Ticket details have been announced for Porto. The club are offering subsidised packages for the 5,800 lucky fans who will travel. First allocation to those in the Uefa away scheme and then members on a loyalty point basis. There are hurdles to jump in meeting the government’s travel regulations one of which is using a private covid test supplied at great cost by donors to the Conservative party. They are that corrupt.
Profiteering from national emergencies used to be a crime, now it is official policy.
Frank Lampard hasn’t had a great time recently but he has won a place in the Premier League hall of fame. Our all-time leading goal scorer joins Aland Shearer, Thierry Henry among others in the recently established Americanism.
Meanwhile, Tino Livramento has capped a fine season that has seen him training regularly with the first-team by taking the academy player of the season award. The wing-back even made the bench for recent games against Manchester City and Arsenal.
Thursday 20 May
Chelsea 3:0 Everton
Ah, football in late May, rainy, cold and windy.
The women looked physically, mentally and emotionally drained at the start but yet we still outplayed and out thought Everton to finish the season in the quarter finals of the FA Cup.
This fixture was rearranged because if the final in Sweden on Sunday so fans couldn’t be allowed in.
The repercussions from the weekend seemed to translate into a 3-4-3 and we gradually got used to the shape and started to beat Everton to second-balls. It will take time but our girls are fast learners. We suddenly looked our old selves when Sam Kerr squared for Guro Reiten to finish. The recalled Beth England hit the bar and had an effort ruled out for offside but she looked competitive and alert throughout, even when upending Evertonians in our box. Sam Kerr rubbed it in by finishing a loose header and Drew Spence headed in the third from Kerr’s chip.
The next round will be played in September with a final in December. Yeah, we don’t either.
Sunday 23 May
Aston Villa 2:1 Chelsea
VAR was already on the beach… or pissed out of their minds.
Chelsea, Liverpool and Leicester City started the day one-point apart and Liverpool had a comfortable afternoon at home to Palace in Roy Hodgson’s last game as a coach. All well and good.
But Leicester City and Chelsea endured comically refereed games overseen by VAR who seemed to have their kids in to work on the last day and let them make the decisions.
It started at Leicester where the Foxes needed a goal to re-establish a lead and Jamie Vardy grabbed a defender’s arm and pulled him to the ground and was awarded a penalty. The slow-motion clearly showed that Vardy had committed the offence but the penalty stood.
We fell behind to a goal from old-boy Bertrand Traore when a corner routine left the winger unmarked and his mis-hit shot looped into the net. Edouard Mendy limped off with damaged ribs after the collision with the post and is a doubt for next weekend.
Traore was again involved when Jorginho pulled out of a challenge and the Villa man kicked him – penalty. Again, it was reviewed by the drunken madmen and found to be sound. There was no question Traore kicked Jorginho not the other way round.
Perhaps VAR have substantial bets on the outcome of the season.
Timo Werner had his usual effort ruled out for offside. This time Azpilicueta strayed. But the ball came to Werner from a clearance; a different phase of play.
Then Leicester got a taste of their own when Bale’s winner followed the clearest handball in the build-up you could wish for. Almost as clear as the handball at Wembley last weekend.
The final insult came when Azpilicueta was hacked down by Jack Grealish and caught him in the face as he swung round. It wasn’t deliberate, it wasn’t dangerous, the clearly accidental contact didn’t warrant a yellow but Stuart Attwell showed a straight red and VAR, by this time under the table, couldn’t be bothered to review.
In the end Gareth Bale slammed in two late strikes to beat Leicester, who fail to finish in the top four after being there every week of the season except this one. If it wasn’t for the injustice of last weekend we might even feel sorry for them.
And so, we are indebted to Spurs, possibly the first time, in all the years we have been writing this column, Spurs have dome us a favour.
Just a note on next season’s kit – Liverpool’s strip is also made by Nike and, despite being unnecessarily fussy, Liverpool’s new uniform is not shit.
Monday 24 May
Paul Appiah and Villa enjoyed FA Youth Cup success as they beat Liverpool 2-1. Paul was a Chelsea boy until the summer of 2019 and has been influential in this widely recruited Villa side.
Tuesday 25 May
We have a reputation, unfairly, for blaming referees for being incompetent and biased. So, it is occasionally delightful when the FA’s regulatory commission overturns a red card and we can stick two-fingers up to Stuart Attwell and the VAR.
Cesar Azpilicueta shouldn’t have been dismissed against Villa and he will not serve a three-match ban at the start of next season.
Uefa have started the process of sanctions against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus for their continuing involvement with the super league. Chelsea and the other founder members who turned tail after 48-hours have already accepted fines and prize money reductions. The two Spanish and one Italian club who refused are expected to be banned from European football for at least one season.
Wednesday 26 May
800 tickets for the Champions League final have been returned because ethe package flights were too expensive and the tickets were linked to flights. With added private covid testing and some of the tickets at £345 given that many of us simply couldn’t afford them.
The club could and perhaps should have stepped in a subsidised the packages.
Both N’Golo Kanté and Edouard Mendy trained today ahead of the team leaving for Portugal.
In cover-up land – Mr Justice William Davis, the judge in charge of letting off the Hillsborough guilty has dismissed the case against Retired Ch Supt Donald Denton, retired Det Ch Insp Alan Foster and former solicitor Peter Metcalf.
The three were up for perverting the course of justice by amending police witness statements so they covered up the incompetence of Norman Bettison among others.
That the three are guilty of this is undoubted but the technicality plucked by Mr Davis’ out of his own arse is that the statements were doctored ahead of an enquiry that was not considered a court of law.
That is specious at best. Altering witness statements, for whatever public airing, is designed to pervert the course of justice. Those statements contributed to the denial of justice for decades to the families of those who died and the delays to the prosecution of those responsible for the manslaughter that happened at that ground.
The person perverting the course of justice today is Mr Justice William Davis. It has been clear from the start that the establishment would not prosecute those guilty of killing football fans because they regard us as cattle and the slaughter of cattle shouldn’t impact a chap’s ability to enjoy a G&T at his golf club.
By throwing out the charges against Denton, Foster and Metcalf the judge has ensured that their behaviour is not examined in court and that nobody was responsible for the deaths at Hillsborough.
The establishment line from the start was that Liverpool fans were responsible; their drunkenness, their hooliganism and their dishonesty caused the deaths of their fellow fans.
What actually happened is that while the bodies were still being taken to the makeshift morgue the police were honing their narrative, their lies, exculpating themselves and feeding stories to the press about how the fans were to blame. They lied to Margaret Thatcher the next day when she arrived, they planted stories in the press and they changed individual copper’s statements to remove evidence that implicated their commanders.
Mr Justice William Davis will go down in history as the last in a long line of liars determined to smother the truth. May he rot in hell with the rest of them.
Sam McClelland has been called up to the full Northern Ireland squad. Our young defender has been drafted into the squad to play Malta and Ukraine next month.
Manchester United rounded off a perfect evening by losing 11-10 on penalties to Villarreal. De Gea missed the final penalty after all the others had been scored. No sniggering at the back as we both know how hard it is to lose and satisfying to win the trophy on penalties we will wait until Saturday night before gloating.
It is the first silverware Villarreal have ever won.
Thursday 27 May
Millie Bright, Sophie Ingle and Fran Kirby have made the Great Britain squad for the Olympics that will not be happening in Japan this summer. Niamh Charles is on the reserve list in case of injuries in the main squad.
The chances of the games actually being held are very slim. Tokyo is still in a state of emergency because of covid and the thousands of volunteers, including medical staff required to run an Olympic games are either really busy or locked down in their homes.
Friday 28 May
Just when you thought Hillsborough was finally over, the moronic barrister representing one of the perverters of the course of justice who were let go this week accused Liverpool fans of rioting.
Jonathan Goldberg QC, representing Peter Metcalf, the solicitor who helped amend police statements to cover up the guilt of senior coppers, said, and we are not making this up; “My client was accused of covering up criticism of the police. What he in fact did was cut out criticism of the Liverpool fans, whose behaviour was perfectly appalling on the day, causing a riot that led to the gate having to be opened, that unfortunately let the people in and crushed to death the innocents as they were – complete innocents – who were at the front of the pens, who had arrived early and were not drunk and were behaving perfectly well.
Jonathan Goldberg QC is a lying toerag or a moron. His client was guilty of coving up police malpractice in a case where football fans were unlawfully killed. None of what happened was a result of drunkenness or rioting. We say again Jonathan Goldberg QC is a liar. He knows that the extensive public enquiry found exactly the opposite of what he claimed. He might be lying to cover up his client’s guilt but he is lying.
Jonathan Goldberg, Manchester, Trinity Hall Oxford, later said that his remarks had been taken out of context. We can assure him that they have not. He added that his client had been exonerated, he had not. Peter Metcalf was let off on a technicality but was guilty of the offence charged. The judge in a cripplingly corrupt decision threw out the case because the guilty men could not have expected their actions to have an impact on judicial proceeding beyond lying to the initial public enquiry. It was a perverse decision designed to let off the guilty parties.
There has been a bit if biff in Porto, probably aided by the local plod but we reserve judgement. It would be a shame to treat locals with disdain ahead of the most important game of the last decade.
Birmingham City away in the quarter-final of the FA Cup for the women – ties to be played on Wednesday 29 September.
Saturday 29 May
Manchester City 0:1 Chelsea
“Cum-on City, the Baggies did this lot five”.
Now, write a match report.
Pep Guardiola left out his defensive midfield shield and played an ambitious 4-1-5 formation, hoping, presumably, to swamp Chelsea’s defence in the first-half.
In contrast Thomas picked the team you would expect, possibly Havertz in instead of Pulisic was the only head-scratcher.
Minute by minute:
Timo Werner, playing down the middle in the first few minutes got behind City’s line twice in the first few minutes and it set a pattern of us creating the better openings.
Thiago Silva picked up a knock tussling with Kyle Walker early on and had to be substituted. Andreas Christensen was a more than capable deputy.
Sterling used a brilliantly curved run to get in behind Reece James but the 21-year-old, keeping Sterling in his pocket all night, got back to tackle superbly. Havertz then fed Werner only for the luckless German to miskick, completely. From the City break Chilwell slid in to prevent a shot. It was a breathless ten-minute start to a final rumoured to be a cagey affair.
Next Chilwell and Mount worked the ball up to Werner to tapped it into the goalkeeper’s gloves, then he flashed an effort wide. A while the finish wasn’t there City’s defence was terrified.
Mason Mount didn’t just impress going forward but tracked back to dispossess a City attack and then seamlessly flowed into attack and suddenly Kanté is challenging for a far-post header.
“Oh, Dennis Wise, scored a fucking great goal in the San Siro, with ten minutes to go. Oh Dennis Wise…” we’ve missed all this.
The referee was sharp throughout, penalising Raheem Sterling for throwing himself over after James touched his back – handball, thank you very much.
Sterling then had a run on James but our man turned him and won back the ball, there was no time to blink, De Bruyne fed Foden but Rüdiger slid in to clear. We were magnificent across the park and the feeling was growing that we were the better side tonight.
And then, Chilwell fed Mason Mount wide on our left and the England midfielder saw the pass, played in Havertz to round Ederson and finish. It was his first goal in the Champions League.
“The ball, from Mason Mount, was on the money” Rio Ferdinand.
The second-half was more equal but, all over the pitch we dominated the individual battles – Chilwell had Walker and Mahrez but tracked both. James had his hands full with Sterling but still found the energy to drive us forward. Christensen didn’t put a foot wrong in replacing Silva and Azpilicueta and Rüdiger were everywhere. Kanté kept De Bruyne out of the match and drove us forward time and again. Werner and Havertz were the only two peripheral and they both made chances and won us the cup.
The referee was getting into his stride around the hour when offering Rüdiger a hand up and booking him for taking out De Bruyne and then demonstrating that the ball hit chest and then hand when City were baying for a penalty. He was wrong as well, the ball clearly hit James’ arm.
City didn’t threaten often and Azpilicueta’s boot was there to take the ball over the bar when they did.
Pulisic could have capped the evening with a goal but looked for the dink and dinked wide.
Christensen then came into his own. Every ball into the box was headed away or blocked by the young Dane.
They brough Aguero on, for one last hurrah, but the Argentine barely touched the ball. They had a late chance, shanked high and wide.
And then, after all that, they still had a trophy to give us. After a confusing, disastrous, terrible year, in which we have lost friends, and family. They gave us the European Cup.
Everyone had their family there and everyone seemed to drink in the atmosphere. The songs went on as long as regulations allowed but covid breaks up everything and there will not be a parade of the trophy tomorrow.
And everyone had a word for Frank Lampard. His courage in taking on a side, in the middle of a transfer embargo and then through the covid mess. Frank and the academy can be really proud, James, Mount and Christensen on the pitch and a squad full of home grown players.
In ordinary circumstances west London would have been drunk dry today because there will be a west London derby next season. As Fulham slipped out of the Premier League so Brentford beat Swansea City in the play-off final. Marc Guehi played well in a Swans defence that had it all to do after a second-half sending off. We haven’t had a top-flight home league game against the Bees since 1946 and haven’t had to schlep down the road to their place since a 2013 two-each in the cup.
They’ve moved since to a natty little place under the Chiswick Flyover. Kew Bridge if you are travelling by train.
Sunday 30 May
Not only the super cup against Villareal, Wednesday 11 August, at Windsor Park in Belfast but the club world cup in Japan in December.
We are the first team qualified for the club world cup and we will be in the dark for months about whether Japan can host anything because of covid.
Thomas Tuchel hinted that he had talked with Abramovich about a new, longer contract and, hopefully, Erling Haaland.
Blackpool beat Lincoln City to win promotion to the Championship. The Imps scored first but were overrun by the Seasiders.