I hope I didn’t jinx Dean Ashton when I talked him up in my last newsletter.  I talked about how good a player he was and how it was about time he got picked for the England squad, and the very next day he broke his ankle.  The same day I wrote the newsletter, I picked Ashton as part of my dream team in “The Sun’s Dream Team” challenge.




Chelsea Drama…again


So I start this newsletter talking about more controversy from Chelsea.  What’s new, you ask?  It seems as a club, they are intent on making every other football fan in the country hate them.  And they’re going about it the wrong way.  Don’t get me wrong, during the 1990’s, I hated Manchester United.  But it wasn’t because they went round tapping up players, or antagonising other players and managers.  No, the reason I hated Manchester United was because they won everything. 


But that’s part of British culture, is it not?  We’re jealous of success.


And I’m sure that in the past, I have used this newsletter as a platform.  A soapbox from which I have preached the evils of the Red Devils.  And I know that I also used the newsletter as a promotion for Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea.  I can’t do it any more.  I just can’t.  For as well as they play on the pitch, Chelsea are a horrible, horrible club, who think they are a bigger team than they actually are.  For every great goal they score, there’s a new scandal gracing the back page of every newspaper in Britain.   For each great player they have purchased, a reputation has been tarnished.


According to a press release from Chelsea, William Gallas had threatened to score an own goal, play badly, make mistakes or get sent off unless he was sold.  Apparently, he refused to play in the FA Cup semi-final defeat to Liverpool, but was eventually brought around and played.


I find it very hard to believe that a manager of Jose Mourinho’s temperament would stand for anything like that.  After the match with Liverpool, he then went on to start the next four games, which were the final matches of the season.  Why would you play someone who had threatened not to play?  I know I wouldn’t.  Things really took a turn when William did not turn up for pre season, which included a trip to America.  It was during this trip that William Gallas’ squad number was given away.    So although Jose said he wanted to keep Gallas, giving his squad number to a new arrival was definitely not a good way to appease him.  It was not a sign of a club wanting to keep a player.


So Billy Gallas declared he wanted to move, presumably because he didn’t want to be warming the bench for another season.  It was apparently at this point that he said he would score an own goal.  Once again, I don’t know about anybody else, but IF I was going to go public with a statement, it would have been as soon as he said it.  I would have broken contract negotiations and tried to get him out of the club as soon as possible.

The row is now really heating up, with Gallas declaring he is going to sue Chelsea.  He really should, because I have yet to hear of a professional footballer claim they are going to score an own goal.  Indeed, if I wanted a move away from a football club, I would try and put myself in the shop window, rather than throw toys out of the pram until I got my own way.


The PFA chief Gordon Taylor is quite right in saying that Chelsea should have left the matter well alone.  Regardless of what has been said, or who has been accused of saying what, William helped Chelsea to two league titles and a league cup during Jose Mourinho’s reign.  And when they eventually sold him, they captured a player they have been after for some time in Ashley Cole in a cash plus player deal.  The matter should have been left alone and closed, as everyone appeared to have won out in the end.


Apparently, that’s not the Chelsea way.


Refreshing England


Having watched England’s first two games under Steve McClaren, it’s already refreshing to see how the style of play has changed.  Changing to a wider style of play and having Steven Gerrard playing wide out on the right and Stuart Dowing on the left really seems to work. 


The most refreshing thing to see though, was the manager singing the national anthem and showing some passion.  We were 2-0 up against Andorra, and cruising, it has to be said, and Steve was on the touchline, shouting for the ball to be played wide.  Within a minute of him doing so, England had scored again.


At the moment, everything seems to work with England.  Crouch has been amazing, and Gerrard finally seems to be recreating his club form for country.  I definitely don’t envy anybody who comes up against Aaron Lennon, and actually having a natural left sided player works so much better for us.  And Owen Hargreaves plays out of his skin for country.  The future definitely looks bright, but I’m not getting too excited.  I’m reserving judgement for when we actually have a meaningful match, against a decent opposition, but still, 9 goals in two games is not too shabby at all.



Transfer Deadline Deals


It appears that West Ham United stole the limelight on transfer deadline day.  It was widely believed that the biggest news of the day would be the transfer of Ashley Cole to Chelsea and William Gallas in the opposite direction.  In fact, the biggest transfer deal was for two Argentinians.  Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano signed for West Ham, reportedly on three year deals for undisclosed fees.  Hammers manager Alan Pardew claimed he couldn’t believe he had been given a chance to sign these two, as they “took his breath away”.  The deal itself looks slightly dodgy, as both players are part owned by a company called Media Sports Investments.  Ex owner of MSI Kia Joorabchian resigned but retained an investment in the two Argentines, previously of Corinthians. Kia was quoted in May as saying


"Tevez will leave Corinthians if a team pays the contract's release clause, which is between £69m and £83m."


Somehow, I don’t see West Ham paying that amount of money.  But dodgy dealing or not, it is one hell of a transfer coup for the Hammers, and the Premiership, as we will get to see these exciting young players week in and week out.


Finally, the long running transfer saga of Ashley Cole has been resolved, as mentioned earlier.  It’s about time too, as it has been ongoing since the “tapping up” scandal over a year ago.  It also means Ashley can release his book, which will no doubt “bad mouth” his former employers, Arsenal.  He still feels bitter over the treatment in the tapping up affair, and feels his club didn’t back him up.  In the opposite direction, Chelsea gave Arsenal £5million and William Gallas.  Although Ashley Cole is the world’s best left back, I can’t help but feel that Arsenal have got the better deal.  Arsenal already have cover at left back, what with Clichy, but they have signed a player who can literally play anywhere along the back line, plus they've pocketed some more money to use when the next transfer window opens up.


Arsenal also finally offloaded Spanish misfit Jose Antonio Reyes, albeit in a one year swap deal with Real Madrid.  Arsenal saw “The Beast” Julio Baptista move in their direction, a player who they tried to sign last year.  Pascal Cygan joined Villareal.
Harry Redknapp continued to spend money.  After their impressive start, they have also signed Andy Cole (or Andrew…depends how he feels on the day) and Cameroon winger Roudolphe Douala Mbela.  Perhaps their biggest signing was Croatian midfielder Niko Kranjcar.


Other business;


DaMarcus Beasley joins Man City from PSV Eindhoven on a season long loan.

Jonathan Woodgate, Robert Huth and Jason Euell all join Middlesbrough.

Newcastle signed highly rated Manchester United starlet Guiseppe Rossi on loan.

Tottenham were busy, capturing the signatures of Steed Malbranque and Pascal Chimbonda.


The End Bit


Thanks for reading again folks.  There’s been so much news I could have gone on to four or five pages.  


Thank you,

Editor - Paul Epton