Wednesday 7 July
England 2:1 Denmark (a.e.t)
It might be a lifetime since this last happened and it is worth celebrating it while we can. The real break on the delight as with the win over Germany, is, as Gareth stressed once again, we haven’t won anything yet.
The only change from the Ukraine was that Bukayo Saka came back in for the peerless Jadon Sancho. In replacing a tempered, world class player with an Arsenal teenager who looked nervy and off the pace in the Germany game Southgate seemed to be reverting to the norm.
Everybody started nervously, passes went astray, commentators made excuses for clumsy tackles and Saka was caught dwelling on the ball. Most of the early work came down the left but Christensen clamped down on Sterling.
We all had reason to thank Kyle Walker’s speed as he sprinted back to cut off the pass to Maehle who was free through the middle after ten minutes.
Kane was intent on playing the early ball. Once curling a ball across that was just too far for Sterling and then presented with the chance to turn on the edge of the box he ballooned the ball over.
We then gave the ball away for the Danes to have two chances and conceded a corner and the Danes lining up on the goal line almost confused the England defence. The Danes had been working on their tactics too.
Suddenly it was Danish pressing winning the ball back up the field and England who couldn’t get out.
The free-kick Mason Mount gave away was unlucky, he was brushing past but his elbow brushed Dolberg’s cheek and he fell like he’d felt an Ali right-cross. But the imagined offence that led to the goal was really confusing; apparently holding.
Pickford was picking Damsgaard’s free-kick out of his net because this was a tournament with no free-kick goals.
We responded well putting a few passes together but a free-kick on the edge of their box led to England players diving in trying to win possession and Denmark breaking four on three.
Raheem Sterling blasted one straight at Schmeichel but redeemed himself a minute later by finishing Saka’s cross. It turned out but Simon Kjaer’s thigh diverted the ball home but the momentum was with England and they seemed to calm down for five minutes and play some football.
Maguire was given a yellow card for an incidental contact with his arm on Kjaer. We have seen players sent off for accidental, incidental and almost gentle contacts in this tournament for no discernible reason.
Dolberg was allowed through to test Pickford but the Dane was flagged for offside. It was a close thing and the ref ignored Kane being taken out in the move.
Pickford had to punch away a couple of crosses as Denmark reasserted themselves.
Harry Maguire had a header tipped away by Schmeichel but looked to be more concerned with not using his arms to jump.
Mason Mount tried to chip Schmeichel and then Kane should have had a penalty when a defensive boot clearly brought him down. The referee didn’t check his VAR screen.
Mason Mount started to dominate England’s play in a way he hasn’t been noticeable in much of the unsung, hard work he usually does. In contrast Grealish looked like he’d never seen a football, let alone knew what to do with it.
So, we had extra-time.
England dominated the ball and the chances but we were saved from penalties by a penalty that wasn’t a trip on Sterling and Kane had two bites as Schmeichel saved but Kane puts it on the rebound.
Phil Foden came on for Mount and underlined why the Chelsea man is picked ahead of him. He barely passed the ball to a white shirt and couldn’t learn from Kane’s technique of lumbering around and then falling over as if fouled.
The second-half of extra-time was a struggle, we wanted it over, we wanted another goal, we wanted the ball in the corner, there was a Pickford save from Braithwaite, there were olés we wanted to get to the final whistle… and eventually… it came.
It was long ago but some of us were three months old the last time England won a semi-final: England 2:1 Portugal. The incomparable Eusebio scored a penalty for Portugal. It was that long ago.
Denmark were magnificent in the tournament and deserved more but nobody was really paying any attention at the close.

We still haven’t won anything yet but each step feels more significant than the last.

Gary Neville tries so hard to be cool but wearing a cock and balls badge on your lapel takes some cajones.

Thursday 8 July
England are being investigated for the idiot who tried to shine a laser in Casper Schmeichel’s face. The disgraceful incident happened as the Danish ’keeper faced Harry Kane’s extra-time penalty at Wembley last night. Tournaments bring out the part-time fan and someone obviously doesn’t know how we behave at the football.
The booing of the Danish national anthem raised questions about selling tickets to morons but the government that encouraged booing of the England team for taking the knee cannot really take the high ground on this issue.

Sunday 11 July
Italy 1:1 England
(Italy win 3-2 on penalties)
Gareth Southgate should be sacked.
Sending an Arsenal teenager up to take the last penalty was the final mistake Gareth Southgate made on an evening of blunders.
He started with the team selection, 3-4-3 can work but selecting the wrong personnel left us under manned in the middle for the whole of the second-half and unable to exert control throughout extra-time.
Without three midfielders there was no chance of Mount or Kane drifting back into midfield to shut down Jorginho, who enjoyed a royal evening, unmolested and able to dictate the match and ultimately England’s downfall.
Shaw’s early strike was a one off in terms of chances created as England were reduced to pumping long, hopeful balls into the channels for the increasingly slow Harry Kane to run towards. You couldn’t say ‘run onto’ because he was never close enough.
Southgate’s ruse, to use wing-backs to stop Italy attacking wide meant we were undermanned in the middle and unable to exert any control over the match so the Italy equaliser was inevitable, if unlucky, as a Sunday-league penalty box scramble ended with the ball in Pickford’s net.
There looked only one winner after that as we grew increasingly desperate unable to pass to a white shirt we panicked and punted the ball long. Holding the Italians at bay in the first half became clinging on and inviting more and more pressure.
The chronic nature of the problem was best illustrated by Declan Rice being forced to dribble forward in possession because there wasn’t a pass on.
With no penetration or control Southgate waited until the 70th minute to switch to 4-3-3 but he brought on the flighty Saka instead of the classy Sancho and compounded his mistake by taking off the effective and hard-working Rice for the confused and dithering Jordan Henderson.
The housewife’s choice, Jack Grealish, came on to strut his stuff but did almost literally nothing other than be stamped on by Jorginho. That no red-card followed was astonishing but that no VAR review took place was scandalous.
Southgate clings to Harry Kane and Sterling as his talisman but neither had any appreciable impact on the final and you have to ask how long we stick with a coach who leaves talent like Sancho, Bellingham, James, Chilwell on the bench and leaves Hudson-Odoi and Olly Watkins out of the squad entirely. A workman-like, cautious, tactically limited coach will see us fail for more decades. Can we really wait until 2076 for our next appearance in a final.
Given this country’s agonies over penalties you would think the coaches would have trained the players to take them. Specifically hitting the ball with power in shootouts works better than trying to psych out a ’keeper who is more experienced and cannier than you. Southgate brough on Saka, Sancho and Rashford to take penalties, all tried to see which way Gianluigi Donnarumma would move and all missed, placing tame penalties straight at him.
It was a failure of coaching in not training them for this situation and picking the youngest, least experienced players to take important penalties .

The result was not a surprise, Southgate oversaw exactly this kind of meek collapse against Croatia in 2018, the same lack of control in the second period against the Netherlands in 2019 and exactly the same tepid failure against Italy tonight.

We have to congratulate Jorginho and Emerson Palmieri as the two Chelsea boys who come home as European champions at both club and national level.

Monday 12 July
As sure as heartache follows penalties, so racism follows penalty misses. We didn’t think that England’s last three penalty takers should have been asked to do the job, but the abuse they suffered from England fans who hate them for the colour of their skin is incredible.
If we had won those racist wankers would have been happy to embrace the winning team and the trophy.
But we lost so those who booed taking the knee feel empowered to spill more bile at the black players they were cheering on moments before.
Priti Patel felt moved to condemn the racism that she stoked over taking the knee.
It took a Tory peer to sum it up, Sayeeda Warsi, tweeted Patel asking her party to “think about our role in feeding this culture in our country”.
“If we ‘whistle’ & the ‘dog’ reacts, we can’t be shocked if it barks & bites,” she tweeted. “It’s time to stop the culture wars that are feeding division. Dog whistles win votes but destroy nations.”
Gary Neville joined in, pointing out that Patel and the arse-wipe Prime Minister Boris ‘picaninny’ Johnson had both encouraged those who booed when England players took the knee, Patel said it was a matter of choice if fans booed what she described as ‘gesture politics’; “It starts at the very top”, Neville said “I wasn’t surprised in the slightest that I woke up to those headlines; I expected it the minute the three players missed.”

Charming place, Brexit Britain.

Tuesday 13 July
Proper football news and Chelsea have signed a player. With the almost total blackout of Chelsea transfer gossip this summer we have secured another James, Lauren James joins the women from Manchester United for a rumoured £200,000. A record for transfers between English clubs. Reece’s 19-year-old sister is Chelsea through and through and it is Emma Hayes happy headache to figure out how to fit her into the team.
As for United’s women the picture looks bleak, James’ departure follows that of Casey Stoney who resigned as manager in May complaining about training facilities, among other things. United appeared to want a women’s team on the cheap and while they signed a few names weren’t taking the project seriously. They finished a distant fourth last term and their progress will be interesting.

Wednesday 14 July
We will play Bournemouth at Dean Court on Tuesday 27 July. And it is your first chance to catch the Johnson variant as a full-house and away fans will be permitted.

Saturday 17 July
Chelsea 6:1 Peterborough United
A behind closed doors friendly was illuminated by Hakim Ziyech in the second-half. Tuchel fielded two different XIs in each half and we fell behind from the penalty spot before Tammy Abraham levelled and Pulisic put us ahead from the spot.
Ziyech came on at he break, smashed one in off the underside of the bar, Armando Broja set him up for a second before the Moroccan tapped in for his third. Broja scored a little before that final strike.
Goals don’t mean everything in pre-season but it is a nicer feeling to be scoring freely rather than drawing away at Orient.

Olivier Giroud has thanked us all for the memories as he joined AC Milan for a rumoured £1m, he joins Fikayo Tomori with the Rossoneri and represents a slice off the wage bill for a club that might be considering signing a new striker, possibly from the Bundesliga, possibly.

Sunday 18 July
Marc Guehi is being allowed to leave. Crystal Palace the lucky recipients of the best defender to graduate from Cobham since John Terry. We cannot disguise our shock and disappointment that Guehi is leaving instead of being integrated into the first team.
The rumour is a fee of around £15m for a player who will cost upwards of £50m to replace in the squad. Marc could well line up in the first match of the season against us at the Bridge and mark Erling Haaland out of the game… but that would be speculation.

Armando Broja scored one and set up another, yesterday and then signed a contract extension that will keep him in blue until 2026. A lot is expected of Armando and this could be the breakthrough season for the young Albanian striker who already has six senior international caps.

Tuesday 20 July
The squad flew to Ireland for a change of scene. Those involved in the latter stages of the Euros are still on a break so the squad is those who didn’t qualify, didn’t progress and the loan returnees.
The move is a bit weird considering they’ll have to fly back to play Bournemouth next Tuesday.
Terrible news from Huddersfield as Izzy Brown ruptured an Achilles and will miss many months. Izzy won plenty of prizes in our youth set up and always looked head and shoulders above at every level he turned out for the blues. What seems to have done for him, again, is bad luck with injuries. We wish him well and a speedy recovery.

Wednesday 21 July
Not hanging around for an opening ceremony Chelsea girls got the Olympics underway with goals. Sam Kerr slotted for Australia as they beat new Zealand. Millie Bright started for Great Britain and Northern Ireland and Sophie Ingle came off the bench as GB beat a difficult Chile side 2-0.
Jonna Andersson was in the Sweden side that thrashed World Champions USA 1-0 but Magda Eriksson and goalkeeper Zećira Mušović didn’t play in the game.

Thursday 22 July
A suspected Covid case scuppered the friendly with Drogheda United this afternoon so the squad divided in half and player each other. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Armando Broja scored the goals as Chelsea drew 1-1 with Chelsea.

Lewis Bate has been snapped up by a grateful Leeds United for a nominal fee with add-ons and a sell-on clause. Another youngster isn’t going to progress with the Blues in the summer of the ones we let slip through our fingers. We wish him well, of course, but after Leeds.
Showing the strength in depth of the academy set-up Eric Ramsay has left to become a coach with Manchester United’s first team. A big step up for a talented coach, and we wish him well, obviously after it all goes tits up at United.

Friday 23 July
Hannah Blundell has taken the M6 to Manchester United as Lauren James officially made the trip in the opposite direction. Hannah was a academy graduate and won ten trophies in 11 years at the club. We wish her well.
The move came as the women’s fixtures were published. We are away at Arsenal on the first weekend and then a full-house will be allowed at Kingsmeadow for the game against Everton. The new broadcasting deal means that nobody yet knows which games will be on Friday, Saturday or Sunday.

Myles Peart-Harris joined the exodus of young players taking the short trip to Brentford. The way the Bees were talking about Myles he might get some first team chances now out West London neighbours are in the Premier League.

Saturday 24 July…and Norther Ireland beat host Japan one-nil to guarantee progression. The tricky Japanese were kept at arm-length as the women seem to be opting for the cautious functional performance that served the men so well until penalties.
Sam Kerr netted twice and missed a penalty as Australia tripped over Sweden 4-2. The Swedes look like favourites.

Monday 26 July
John Terry stepped down as coach at Aston Villa, cryptically saying that he didn’t think he should start the season unless he could commit to finishing it. Which means he is on the lookout for a manager’s post somewhere.

Tuesday 27 July
AFC Bournemouth 1:2 Chelsea
So, Chelsea football is back and a lively friendly was enjoyed by a full-house for the first time since the mauling of Everton back in March 2020.
Bournemouth played their part in making the match a spectacle and opened the scoring when Marcondes headed in a cross, we turned it round with a fine finishes from the substitutes Broja and Ugbo.
Broja controlled and finished from Baba Rahman’s cross and Ugbo headed in a Ross Barkley corner.
In the first half Hudson-Odoi, Abraham, Pulisic and Ziyech combined to cut he hosts open but the last pass was often loose; too far or too wide.
There were useful minutes on the pitch for Malang Sarr and Lewis Baker – playing as centre-half in a three – as well as for Conor Gallagher who was the only player to complete the match.
The most fun appeared to be being had in the stands as Chelsea fans ran through nearly the whole repertoire of songs.

Jamie Cumming joined Gillingham on a season long loan deal. Jamie should do well at League One Gills. The academy right-back, Henry Lawrence, joined AFC Wimbledon

Wednesday 28 July
Former Fulham stopper Marcus Bettinelli signed a two-year contract to be the new Willy Caballero at the Bridge. Marcus has plenty of experience in play-off matches and finals but has also suffered his fair share of injuries.

You will need proof of vaccination or a negative test to attend games next season. The vaccination confirmation will be on your NHS app, if you haven’t deleted it and the test will have to have been carried out within the last 48-hours.

Portsmouth XI 0:2 Chelsea U23
A scratch side for both teams given covid withdrawals Malik Mothersille scored both of our late strikes.

Ann-Katrin Berger signed a contract extension that keeps her a blue until 2024. The German goalkeeper who made a huge contribution to our first champions league final appearance joined from Birmingham in 2019. The encouraging thing is that all the women who have signed new deals this summer talk of the squad as like a family.

Ashley Cole will combine his role at our academy with assisting new England U21 coach Lee Carsley. Ash has been working as an U15 coach at Chelsea since 2019 and will have his first taste of his new job in September when we play Kosovo and Slovenia in Euro 23 qualifiers.

On a busy day Roman’s libel case started in the courts. Preliminary hearings to determine the meaning of 26 passages in Catherine Belton’s book Putin’s People. Abramovich contends that the book accuses him of a corrupt relationship with Vladimir Putin and suggests that the Russian billionaire purchased Chelsea on orders from the Kremlin.
The trouble with cases like this is the Streisand effect: the very act of attempting to censor, delete or even correct misinformation only draws more attention to the issue at dispute.
We don’t believe for an instant that Roman was directed to purchase Chelsea as “part of a scheme to corrupt the west by corrupting local elites” or to “build a bulkhead of Russian influence.”
Sadly, Belton is an experienced Reuters writer who made few definite statements and hedged allegations with balancing quotes from supporters of Abramovich. Her publishers, HarperCollins, will have been through the allegations for fairness before publication and all this case will do is sell more copies.

Wednesday 28 July
Dynel Simeu jumped from our academy to Southampton’s B team.

Thursday 29 July
God but Nike are patronising. The new away kit is mainly yellow which will gladden many hearts, after the peach melba bullshit they dressed us in last season. Announcing that yellow is a “Chelsea thing”, we know you infantile weirdoes, we are Chelsea. They’ve messed up a good kit with black pinstripes and details or as they say: “The kit is paired with black to create a striking and impactful design aesthetic. The pinstripe detail is a nod to kits of the past”. They pay people to write bollocks like this.

Friday 30 July
Sam Kerr scored twice as Australia knock GB out of the Olympics in an epic 3-4 scoreline after extra time. GB contrived to miss a penalty in extra-time too.

Conor Gallagher will continue his development at Palace next season. The young midfielder impressed in the recent friendly at Bournemouth playing the whole match and has starred in loans to Charlton, Swansea and, last season, West Brom.

Ian Maatsen is heading to Coventry City for a season. The 19-year-old made a good impression at Charlton last season but it is questionable what impact he can have on Coventry’s patched up struggling squad.

Saturday 31 July
Woking 4:3 Chelsea U23
3-0 up at the half didn’t really tell the whole story. Woking were a constant threat and Jayden Wareham’s early strike and Thierno Ballo and Armando Broja strikes gave the half-time score a gloss the host didn’t deserve.
We were a little swamped in the second period but the exercise is fitness and cohesion and on both this was a positive performance.

Sunday 1 August
Arsenal 1:2 Chelsea
Arsenal fans will feel right at home, the first match in front of a sizable crowd and the home team under-performed, couldn’t take their chances and wilted to their superior London neighbours. Just like old times.
It was a good, lively friendly. None of that pre-season lumbering, square passing bore draws.

Thomas Tuchel will have a juggling act over the next few weeks as our players return from the Italian and England Euro squads late. Kai Havertz, Timo Werner, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic were all on show and combined to create chances throughout the first period. The goal coming when Werner, eventually, squared and Kai smashed the ball home.
They equalised from a Granit Xhaka header but then handed the ball to Tammy Abraham who slotted that chance neatly.
Arsenal are further into their pre-season, have a more settled squad return, were at home and still looked at sixes and sevens.
We weren’t perfect but with a scratch squad we looked coherent even after the slew of substitutions in the second-half.
The only bright spark for the Gooners was Ben White who looked to thwart our attacks single handed.

Arsenal 2:1 Chelsea
The women’s squad struggled to make as much of an impact with eleven away at the Olympics. A very young team made a decent fist of the challenge, equalised through Reanna Blades’ first strike for the senior side and didn’t deserve to lose to a cracking finish.
The women travel to Glasgow next on Tuesday 12 August, free on the website if you aren’t in Scotland that day.

Monday 2 August
Mason Mount, and the rest of the finalists from the summer returned to training. Mount was joined by Thiago Silva, Jorginho, Emerson, Reece James and Ben Chilwell and Ethan Ampadu showed up too.

Tino Livramento has become a Southampton player… and everyone who hoped for another break through from the academy started to lose their temper. We have sold on enough talent to make a good B-team this summer and the rumours are that the savings/profits are not going to be invested in an exciting Norwegian striker – he is rumoured to be off to City next summer – instead we will bid on Romelu Lukaku’s blustering charms.

Tuesday 3 August
Boreham Wood 1:0 Chelsea U23
£7.99 – £7.99 for a scratch side and a home winner. Wood were the better side as our very young squad got a hard lesson in dogged defending.

Wednesday 4 August
Chelsea 2:2 Tottenham Hotspur
We gave Tottenham the heaviest 2-2 thrashing ever handed out. The first-half side dominate almost completely, Ziyech’s goal was the very least we deserved and Timo tucked the ball in neatly only to be incorrectly flagged offside.
In the second period with a few subs already on Ziyech made it six goals in three pre-season games for a 2-0 lead.
That Spurs got back into it was down to some sloppy touches and a fortunate looping finish from deflection.
Tino Anjorin had a couple of chances to extend our lead and showed drive and skill in creating them, Tammy Abraham had a dab, Pulisic almost connected with a volley on the stretch. We dominated possession and chances to such a degree that Spurs looked bereft.
Until we swapped out six players at the same time and lost our shape and direction. But handed more players time on the pitch and Spurs a draw.

Romelu Lukaku has told Inter to accept a reasonable offer. Despite declaring himself happy in Milan and the club saying he isn’t for sale it seems £102m will be required to prize him away.
On the day City spent £100m on Jack Grealish and have been told to offer £150m for stayaway Harry Kane who failed to turn up for training again today.
Let’s face it, Lukaku is a lot less exciting a prospect than Haaland but has improved in leaps and bounds in recent seasons. He would be an outstanding addition to the club.

Super Cup opponents Villarreal played Leicester tonight and almost came back from three-nil down but the 3-2 was overshadowed by a tackle from the Villarreal forward Nino on Wesley Fofana that saw the influential French defender stretchered from the field.

Thursday 5 August
Shocking news from Portugal that Michael Ballack’s son, Emilio, has been killed at the age of just 18. Emilio was killed in a quad bike accident. Oliver Khan, colleague of Michael’s in the Germany squad said there were no words and he is right.

Sam Kerr scored against the USA but will not be coming home with bronze as the USA won the match 3-4. Sam finished with six goals in the tournament and now has 48 for her country.

Friday 6 August
Jessie Fleming scored Canada’s equaliser against Sweden in the gold medal match and then was one of a few who netted in the shootout to bag Canada’s first gold medal in the women’s football and become Chelsea’s latest gold medallist.

A deal with Inter for Lukaku is getting closer. Under £100m, just, but with no players going to other way. The club were trying to work the price down by offering surplus right-backs but the Italians want cash.

Saturday 7 August
Ian Maatsen made his debut as Coventry City returned to the city and tipped in both a late equaliser and a late winner to beat Nottingham Forest 2-1.
Juan Castillo made his senior bow for Birmingham as they clung on for a 1-0 against Sheffield United. Jamie Cumming impressed for Gillingham in a 1-1 with Lincoln City and Nathan Baxter and Henry Lawrence both warmed the bench for Hull and Wimbledon respectively. In the same Don’s match, Luke McCormick confirmed our optimism for his career by scoring a free-kick to hand the home side a win over Doncaster.