JULY SEASON: OVERLAPPING SEASONS AND EMOTIONS
Sat July 1st Officially it's a new season, and therefore it's a new era. Yesterday was the last day at the club of physio Mike Banks who joined in 1995 and was in charge of our first team until 2005. He has been reserve team physio for the last year. Best of luck, Banksie. Yesterday our former youth team coach (1990-92) and education and welfare officer (1992-2001) Dave Collyer died aged 58 after a long illness. He was a special guy. Deep respect! Yesterday was the last full-time working day of Group operations director Simon Arthur, brought in by Trevor Birch when Trevor became chief executive. He'll continue to be a consultant on the Cobham development. Today is the first day of Adidas as our kit sponsor. So the Megastore is closed and being refurbished. This is how summer is shaping. In so far: Michael Ballack, Andriy Shevchenko, Salomon Kalou, John Obi Mikel, Hilario, reserve and youth fitness coach Carl Halabi, youth coach Ruud Kaiser. Gone: Eidur Gudjohnsen, Maniche, Carlton Cole, Lenny Pidgeley, Robert Huth in waiting (still to sign for Middlesbrough), Glen Johnson on loan, reserve fitness coach Ade Mafe as well as Mike Banks, and chief scout Gwyn Williams. Changes: reserve coach Mick McGiven is working in the first team group this season, youth team coach Brendan Rodgers is now taking the reserves, and one of the Academy physios, Glen Driscoll, is moving up to the reserves.
Sat July 1st Out in Germany it's the second and last day of the World Cup quarter-finals. England keep a clean sheet for 120 minutes, half of them with ten men, and go out on penalties to Portugal, as in the European Championships. John Terry and Frank Lampard for England, and Ricardo Carvalho for Portugal, play the whole game. Joe Cole is substituted after Wayne Rooney is sent off for stamping on Carvalho's crotch. Terry gets booked and will be suspended for England's next competitive game. Had England won he would have missed the semi-final. Lampard takes the first penalty and it is saved. So Terry, Wayne Bridge, Lampard and Cole's seasons are finally over, but Carvalho and Paulo Ferreira will play in the last weekend of the tournament. Bridge hasn't kicked a ball in the tournament. William Gallas and Claude Makelele also move to the last weekend as France dismiss Brazil 1-0 after extra-time. They are both having an outstanding month. It will be France v Portugal in the semi-final, so Chelsea will definitely have someone in the Final.
Sun July 2nd The media stick for England starts big-time. Sven-Goran Eriksson gets hit by the biggest storm, and there are substantial blows to Portugal's Ronaldo for his general conduct ? diving and his part in Manchester United colleague Rooney's red card ? but there's little stick for Rooney. Yet there are hammer blows for Lampard because of his World Cup form throughout. David Beckham announces his retirement from the international captaincy, and immediately Terry is made favourite to succeed by the media, although Steven Gerrard is also a contender.
Mon July 3rd Lampard is really receiving a media bashing. Roll on next season when he can put the record straight on the pitch. Our former player-manager Glenn Hoddle fails to turn up at Wolves for a meeting to discuss his future. Our former reserve team midfielder Craig Rocastle, 25 next month and unattached, signs for Oldham, so he's got more football to play.
Tue July 4th The media is full of Chelsea bidding £20m for Ashley Cole. Chelsea say nothing. Wolves confirm that Hoddle has resigned. In the first World Cup semi-final, in a wonderful game, Germany with Ballack lose to Italy 2-0, conceding two goals in the last two minutes of extra-time. Huth is on the bench. It is the best match of the World Cup so far.
Wed July 5th Reports in a newspaper claim Beckham's friends are saying that he thinks Terry should be the new England captain. Our man is still favourite, but there's strong Gerrard support too. Chelsea complain to FIFA of an illegal approach by Real Madrid, who voted in a new president at the weekend, for Arjen Robben. The president had said when campaigning that he would take Robben to the club. Gallas and Makelele make the World Cup Final. France beat Portugal 1-0 with a penalty conceded by Carvalho. Poor Carvalho gets booked and would have missed the Final through suspension. As it is, he'll miss the third place play-off. Ferreira replaces injured Miguel with half an hour to go.
Thu July 6th There's the World Cup and there's little else. At Stamford Bridge it is positively summer. Quiet.
Fri July 7th FIFA announce their 23 man squad of the World Cup, and there's four Chelsea players in it: Terry, Carvalho, Ballack and Hernan Crespo. There's media reports of Spanish youngster Sergio Tejera signing for Chelsea, but that was a deal completed at the end of last season. What he is doing is arriving for the new campaign when he will be a first year scholar. Germany manager Jurgen Klinsmann announces that captain Ballack, who has been carrying a calf injury all tournament, will sit out the third place play-off with Portugal tomorrow. So, like Lampard, he hasn't scored all month.
Sat July 8th Our sacked striker Adrian Mutu moves from Juventus, still awaiting possible relegation in the referee fixing inquiries in Italy, to Fiorentina, who are in the same predicament. In the last six years Mutu has spent one month at Inter, two years on loan at Verona, one season at Parma, one season at Chelsea, one season suspended and one season at Juventus. Good luck to Fiorentina. Huth is selected for the World Cup third-place play-off but pulls out with an ankle injury during the warm-up. He had an ankle injury during the pre-tournament games, but has played in a match since. Ferreira plays for Portugal, but Germany win 3-1 with some outstanding goals. The hosts ? both countries ? have had a good tournament.
Sun July 9th Robben's father is quoted in the media as saying his son has had no contact with Real Madrid and intends staying at Chelsea. Gallas and Makelele become the third and fourth Chelsea players to contest a World Cup Final, but have to settle for runners-up medals as Italy win on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Neither Chelsea boy takes a penalty, but both give fine performances over the 120 minutes. The whole 2005/6 season is finally over. Watching on television in a Cobham hotel, the new first year scholars have got together with the Academy coaching staff to start the 2006/7 season. They stay in the hotel overnight.
Mon July 10th First day of training for the reserves and youth team. The first year scholars go through physical tests and measurements, Rodgers takes the remainder of everyone for training. Huth turns up at Middlesbrough for his medical, but no completion of transfer is announced. Makelele, back in France, announces his second international retirement. In Italy, our former midfielder Didier Deschamps becomes the Juventus coach. It is his second managerial job, coming after the fine results he achieved at Monaco.
Tue July 11th Jose Mourinho flies in for one day only and attends the hearing on Kalou's work permit. Our new centre-forward's appeal is successful, and he becomes a fully-fledged Chelsea player. Our 18 year old youth team goalkeeper Nick Hamann suffers a bad headache after training which doesn't subside. Our former centre-forward Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, now 34 years old, joins Charlton on a free transfer having finished at Middlesbrough. But Middlesbrough do not complete the Huth deal, and it is clear there are problems.
Wed July 12th Huth is at Cobham having his ankle looked at. The media is, as always, full of Chelsea: Gallas has made a u-turn and will sign a new deal; Valencia are going to buy Del Horno; Chelsea are homing in on Nesta at Milan as the world awaits the Italian inquiry results. Hamann's still got his headache. Our former defender David Lee starts his new job as Swindon youth team coach, linking up with Dennis Wise and Gustavo Poyet.
Thu July 13th Three former youth team coaches turn out for Dave Collyer's funeral: Mick McGiven, still at Chelsea, of course; Eddie Niedzwiecki, who has taken time off from Blackburn's pre-season; and Ted Dale. Gerry Harvey, Dave's successor as education and welfare officer, represents the current Academy and lays a wreath. Boro announce Huth has failed his medical with an ankle problem. They say they are withdrawing from the transfer and will start looking at alternatives. For now, Huth is a Chelsea player again ? or, more precisely, still. Hamann still has his headache.
Fri July 14th Portsmouth manager Harry Redknapp says he fancies buying Huth. Our former midfielder Scott Parker is announced to be the new Newcastle captain in succession to Alan Shearer. Eidur Gudjohnsen, now a Barcelona player, pops into Cobham to see a few people, records a Legends for Chelsea TV, and sneaks a training session with Rodgers and the reserves. It's a good boost for the reserves, having the European champions' new signing doing a bit of work with them. In Italy, Juventus, Fiorentina and Lazio are relegated and Milan are docked points next season over the referee fixing scandal. How many players does that make available? Hamann still has his headache.
Sat July 15th Juventus and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro is pictured in several papers jet-skiing off Roman Abramovich's yacht. Cannavaro for Chelsea is the hot new story! At Cobham, Football Icon 2 holds a game for the final shortlist of participants competing for a place in the house, at training to Christmas, and to be part of the television programme that will follow 14 boys who are contesting the one opportunity of a professional contract at Chelsea for the second half of the season. Hamann goes to hospital with no feeling down one side of his face which is now not moving. It turns out he got bitten by a tic while running in a forest in Germany over summer, and although he pulled the bite out, it has poisoned him. He is given the right treatment immediately but will have to stay in awhile. In the evening at Wembley Arena, Chelsea win the regional Masters for the fourth year running. The squad of nine easily dominate the six-a-side tournament with Gianfranco Zola, Dennis Wise and Gustavo Poyet all starring and scoring freely. Zola wins the player of the night and top scorer awards as well. Chelsea beat QPR 5-1 in the final. Clive Walker, now 49 years old, is excellent. In fact all the squad are: Kevin Hitchcock, David Lee, Gareth Hall, Ken Monkou and Graham Stuart completing it. Chelsea now qualifies for the national finals in September.
Sun July 16th There's more Football Icon 2 games at Cobham, and the final 14 for the training and living in the house through the television series are selected.
Mon July 17th The media is full of Damien Duff having undergone a medical at Tottenham over the weekend. Rubbish! He flew in from Dublin last night and is at the first day of training today. But Tottenham have made an inquiry for him. He has one year left on his contract. At training are Carlo Cudicini, Hilario for the first time, Geremi, Asier Del Horno, Lassana Diarra, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Duff and, for the first time, Kalou. The one non-World Cup participant who is absent is John Obi Mikel whose appeal to get his work permit is tomorrow. Four youngsters swell the numbers: young professionals Jimmy Smith and Michael Mancienne, and first year scholars ? fresh out of school ? Michael Woods and Sergio Tejera. Mick McGiven is amongst the coaching staff with them. Valencia's sporting director is quoted in the media as saying he hopes to complete the signing of Del Horno this week. Double sessions start straight away, and the players having reported at 10am finish the second session at 6pm and get away around an hour after that. It is very, very hot! Hilario falls badly on his shoulder making a save and injures it. It's not good. He could be held back in his training for a few weeks. Huth has the probe into his injured ankle that succeeds in removing a bit of loose bone and proves the injury is minor. He should be training early next month. Our former left-back Scott Minto announces his retirement after achilles trouble. He has been at Rotherham for four years. He is nearly 35 years old.
Tue July 18th Mourinho misses morning training to attend the appeal on Mikel's work permit. It is granted, but he now needs to acquire his visas. The youngsters are with the first team again, and so now is goalkeeper Yves Makabu-Ma Kalambay, so when the youth team has its first pre-season game, Woods and Tejera aren't involved. In scorching heat at Cobham, Chelsea Youth beat Luton Youth 3-0 with goals from three 17 year olds, second year scholar Shaun Cummings, triallist Ben Sahar, and another second year, Tomi Saarelma. First year scholars Nano Ofori-Twamasi at right-back and Tommy Taiwo in central midfield play all game and impress. Ricardo Fernades, creative midfielder, is good too, finding space, using the ball well. And there are good things from first year goalkeeper Rhys Taylor and winger Miroslav Stoch. Ruud Kaiser, taking his first match as coach, says he is pleased with work off the ball but wants more from the boys on it. It's not a bad start. In the afternoon Huth drops in and is already on the mend.
Wed July 19th Hamann gets out of hospital. He has feeling back in his face, but not yet movement. He will be on daily injections for a while and when the programme is finished he can resume training. Duff is considering his options for a move. He's not willing to make Tottenham one of them. Del Horno goes for a scan. He has yet to resume training. Atletic Bilbao, his former club, are reported to be challenging Valencia for his signature. Middlesbrough's Southgate says that if Huth can prove his fitness he would still be interested in signing him.
Thu July 20th Michael Essien and Didier Drogba drop into the training ground. Essien goes with Cudicini and Kalou to Stamford Bridge for the launch of the new Adidas kit. It's both classic Chelsea and classic Adidas. At the resulting press conference Mourinho admits Duff could be on his way, claims he wants a slightly smaller squad to give everyone games, and states that he has had his hair cut short because he is going to war ? it's the quote of the new season. Essien returns to Cobham after the launch and takes part in the afternoon training session, his first of the season. Reserve team central midfielder Anthony Grant, 19 years old, is loaned out to Wycombe Wanderers for the season.
Fri July 21st Jose going to war is all over all the papers. Drogba now starts training. At lunchtime the second Banksy Boys lunch is held since Tony Banks' death. A good collection of 1954/5 players is there: Derek Sunders, Roy Bentley despite a fall and a hospital visit in the morning, Bobby Smith, Les Stubbs, Frank Blunstone, Jim Lewis. Bobby Laverick, a reserve left-winger who played seven games between 1955 and 1959 drops in. Terry Venables and Tommy Baldwin are there, and so too is Chris Garland, Parkinson's Disease sufferer for 17 years and the recipient of a new and slightly experimental operation four weeks ago which has seemed to have had a fantastically positive outcome. Sally Banks is there, and before the lunch she spreads her husband's ashes in the centre circle. Chelsea and Valencia agree a fee for Del Horno, and our left-back flies off to Spain to sort out a contract. Duff chooses Newcastle, a fee is agreed, and he flies north for his medical.
Sat July 22nd Newcastle are in Lillestrom for an Intertoto Cup tie, so Duff is back in Surrey for training. Petr Cech returns from the World Cup and shoulder surgery to start his rehabilitation. Mourinho wants a game for those who have trained, and so a planned pre-season game for the youth team with Cheltenham has been cancelled, and all reserves and second year trainees get involved. Both sides play 4-3-3 and draw 4-4 with Kalou getting a hat-trick for one and second year scholar Shaun Cummings making one and then scoring two for the other. Training is morning only. After training Duff says a very tearful farewell to everyone. He wants to play regular football, but he really doesn't want to have to leave. Valencia confirm they have signed Del Horno on a six year contract. Good luck Del Boy. At 10.30pm the transfer of Duff is confirmed. All the luck in the world, Duffa.
Sun July 23rd The papers are full of the same story: Ashley Cole to Chelsea. But there's still a major sprinkling of Roberto Carlos to Chelsea too. Today, at last, is a day off from training for everyone.
Mon July 24th Wayne Bridge and Arjen Robben are back at training. John Terry drops in with his twin babies to say hello. It's two sessions again. Crespo is in the papers reported as saying that he has been offered a new contract and a private plane by Roman Abramovich to stay at Chelsea, but his heart is in Italy. Chelsea deny that the offers have been made. Frank Arnesen makes his Live At Stamford Bridge debut on Chelsea TV and is adamant that the youngsters will be found who can break through to first team involvement at Chelsea. Former Blues striker Pierluigi Casiraghi is named the coach of Italy Under 21s and takes as his assistant no less a person than Gianfranco Zola who will now start doing his coaching badges.
Tue July 25th This has to have been the hottest pre-season ever. Players are standing in bins full of iced water at the end of sessions to cool down and soaking their feet in hardening liquid to protect them from blisters. They've got sun cream and Vaseline to fight off burning and blisters. At Arsenal, manager Wenger says they have received no offer from Chelsea or anyone for Cole, but he couldn't say that Cole would still be an Arsenal player at the beginning of the season.
Wed July 26th The American pre-season tour. Terry joins the party and off they fly to Los Angeles. No training today. Several youngsters are included this year: goalkeeper Ma Kalambay, defenders Mancienne and Ryan Bertrand, and midfielders Smith and Woods. The papers claim that a Chelsea bid of £16m for Cole has been turned down. The team arrives at the Beverley Hills Hotel at 8pm local time, 4am tomorrow London time.
Thu July 27th Waiting at the hotel to join up with the squad are Cole, Lampard and Andriy Shevchenko, all of whom have been holidaying in the States. So the full squad for now is: Cech, Cudicini, Hilario, Ma Kalambay; Geremi, Terry, Mancienne, Bridge, Bertrand; Essien, Diarra, Lampard, Smith, Woods; Cole, Wright-Phillips, Shevchenko, Drogba, Robben and Kalou. Chelsea announce that elder statesmen Makelele and Crespo will not be joining up on the tour. There is no chance to rest and recover from jet lag today. Mourinho has two training sessions as usual, one at 10am and one at 4.30pm. UCLA is the training camp, and the facilities are excellent. It is around 91 degrees Fahrenheit, The morning session is open and there is an astonishingly big media presence, far greater than anything Chelsea has experienced in the USA in the last two years. Shevchenko in his first session is put in an all-English group. He can start working on his new language immediately! In between the sessions, back at the Beverley Hills Hotel, he holds his first Chelsea press conference. Meanwhile, at Stamford Bridge, the revamped Megastore, all Adidas and full of the new shirt, opens. It's been a fantastic effort by the staff to get it ready in time. And in Walton the torrents of rain close roads including the surrounding M25 and the reserves' first game under Rodgers is postponed by Walton & Hersham because the pitch is waterlogged.
Fri July 28th Everyone is pretty much over jet lag now. It's not so hot, there's morning cloud, and that's good on another two-session day. Back in England Arsenal's David Dein admits that 'civil' talks have taken place between them and Chelsea on the possible transfer of Ashley Cole, and it is also reported that Cole has not turned up for training. He should have reported on Monday. In the afternoon session Essien limps off after suffering a knock from Ma Kalambay who is diving at his feet. He is carried away for treatment, but a knock is all it is and to everyone's relief he will train tomorrow. Hilario is back keeping goal again. At Cobham, Huth reports back to start rehabilitation.
Sat July 29th A totally cloudy day in California, very humid. The morning's session is more demanding than ever, but the afternoon one is full of fun competitiveness with a soccer-tennis competition being held. Cech is stepping up his training very quickly. Shevchenko has a knock, and he misses the afternoon session in order to receive treatment. In the evening, he has to perform his 'welcome' song to the squad and management, but all one line of 'We Are The Champions' stimulates is hurled serviettes and bread rolls. Welcome to Chelsea.
Sun July 30th Morning session only. In the UK the media is full of Chelsea in the USA, of Lampard going to be offered a new contract, and of Ken Bates talking about pursuing a charge of illegal approach for the Leeds youngsters Chelsea have signed, and of claiming £24m compensation. Chelsea put out a denial of any wrongful approach. In Colerain, Northern Ireland, the youth team arrives with several Under 16s players as so many youth regulars have been taken by the first team, and participates in a parade to launch this year's Milk Cup. Last year the boys reached the Final. Back in Santa Monica the team visits the Adidas store in the afternoon and around one thousand people turn out to meet them. There is mayhem as fans climb on buildings outside the back of the store just to get a glimpse of the players boarding the coach. It's like the Beatles in the USA in 1964! Maybe football really is taking off in the US.
Mon July 31st It's still Sunday evening in California, and Ballack, Carvalho, Ferreira and Mikel all jet in to join up with the squad, Ballack with his new shorter haircut. Gallas, however, has refused to attend, claiming he needs more time to rest. After his summer statements about wanting to leave the club, is this another statement? In England, former Blue Hasselbaink faces improper conduct and bringing the game into disrepute FA charges over the claims he made in his autobiography about 'extra' bonuses given at Chelsea after the 2004 Champions League win at Arsenal, claims that have been proved to be wrong. In Spain, Roberto Carlos announces he wants to stay at Real Madrid. It seems there was no path for him to Chelsea after all. Ashley Cole, meanwhile reports to Arsenal for the first time but stays under an hour. Their first team squad is on tour. At UCLA the new boys look tall and impressive in their first session. Mikel makes it clear he wants to be known as Mikel John Obi. In Northern Ireland the youth team beat Co Antrim 2-1 with goals by Tejera and captain Cork. Kaiser still wants more patience and control in possession. On Monday evening in California, the early hours of August 1st in the UK, Chelsea players attend a reception in their honour at the Sky Bar, a swanky LA venue. Tony Blair turns up, Snoop Doggy Dogg is there too, the tennis Williams sisters, and a host of sports, acting and music people. Chelsea goes to Hollywood. Hopefully, the season will have a happy ending.
by Neil Barnett