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(2007-04-03 12:19:45)


Sun March 18th Training is at Stamford Bridge at 3.30pm. Essien joins in with a view to returning tomorrow, but his knee doesn't stand up to the test.

Mon March 19th A 2pm kick-off at Aldershot in horrible conditions finishes Chelsea Reserves 0 Tottenham Reserves 0. Ma Kalambay makes a good save for Chelsea. The Tottenham keeper doesn't make any. It's the third 0-0 in a row. In the evening the FA Cup quarter-final replay at Tottenham is a cracker. Mourinho again goes with a midfield diamond. Diarra returns at right-back. Mikel replaces Makelele as the holding midfielder. Wright-Phillips retains his place on the right of midfield. The first-half is uninspiring, Chelsea are tight in defence. The second is eight minutes old when from nowhere Shevchenko scores one of the goals of the season, cutting inside and from wide just inside the area and curling a venomous left-footer into far side-netting. Genius! Seven minutes later Drogba sets up Wright-Phillips to crash in number two. Wright-Phillips is having the time of his Chelsea life. Tottenham score from a penalty with 15 minutes left, but Chelsea have no further scares and reach our second semi-final of the season. After the game has finished a stupid Tottenham fan runs on the field and throws a punch at Lampard who ducks. Rui Faria wrestles him to the floor, and stewards and players pile in to restore order. A Chelsea fan runs on the field and is quickly caught and taken away. Hopefully, a near-epic Cup quarter-final won't be sullied by the events of stupid fans home and away.

Tue March 20th Everyone's off to international duty, or just off. The papers, of course, aren't so much celebrating the game as dramatising the end of match stupidity, and are claiming Drogba, Ashley Cole and Terry are over-zealous in stopping the Tottenham fan. Will they be disciplined, they ask. Are there no self-respecting sports editors anymore?

Wed March 21st Cudicini, Hilario and Morais train with the coaching staff. Joe Cole is running well. Wright-Phillips is in Mexico on holiday. The FA confirm there will be no charges against Chelsea players for the post-Tottenham mess. Bad luck, newspapers! Fixture changes for television are announced, and Mourinho will not be happy. We go to Newcastle now for a Sunday lunchtime kick-off the weekend before the Champions League semi-final. In Mauritius, Kalou scores his first international goal on his second appearance, coming on at half-time in a friendly to open the scoring in a 3-0 win. Drogba also comes on in the second-half. In Doncaster, on loan Michael Mancienne is in the centre of the England Under-19s defence for a 1-0 win over Turkey.

Thu March 22nd We are due to play Tottenham at lunchtime on Saturday 7 April. They are due to play at Sevilla the Thursday evening before in a Uefa Cup tie. Sevilla want to change the date because of a festival in the city. Uefa refuses them permission. We can't change our Spurs date because we have a Champions League game the following Tuesday. Fixture congestion is becoming a problem all round. The few players who are around train, and then several of the coaching staff as well as them dash away to catch flights. There's no more training until next Tuesday. Out in Ukraine, Shevchenko suffers an ankle injury in training. He won't travel for the international in the Faroe Islands.

Fri March 23rd The injured are still in working. Today the papers have Chelsea managed next season by Italy World Cup winning coach Marcello Lippi assisted by Gianluca Vialli. It's a story that was in yesterday's Gazzetto dello Sport. It's a done deal they say. Tiresome! Some also claim that there will be a Mourinho-Abramovich meeting this weekend. Some say it will clear the air. Some say it will be over a pay-off agreement. Tiresome! In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Michael Woods scores the third goal in England Under-17s' 5-0 win over the hosts in a European Championships qualifier. It's his fourth goal in five appearances for them. Ofori-Twumasi is an unused substitute.

Sat March 24th With no reserve team action next week, and an Under-19s tournament in Dallas coming up, and with so many youngsters away on international duty, the remainder who are here play in the youth team to make the strongest side we have fielded this month. Not surprisingly we cruise to a 3-0 win over MK Dons with Football Icon winner Carl Magnay scoring his second Chelsea goal, first year scholar Lee Sawyer netting his first, and defender Sam Hutchinson netting his second. A good performance. Internationals day! Cech wins his 50th cap and Diarra his first. Diarra has a happier time as he and Makelele control midfield in France's 1-0 win in Lithuania. The Czech Republic lose 2-1 at home to Germany who are captained by Ballack. England, with Terry captaining and Lampard labouring in midfield, dominate Israel but cannot score. Ashley Cole is suspended. Sahar comes on for Israel midway through the second-half but has little influence. Portugal recover from a poor first-half to trounce Belgium 4-0 with Carvalho at centre-back and Ferreira at left-back. But Holland struggle to a 0-0 home draw with Romania. Robben plays, Boulahrouz doesn't. Former Blue Adrian Mutu is captain of Romania. In Africa, Gérémi sets up two goals from right-back as Cameroon beat Liberia 3-0. Mikel, playing attacking midfield, takes the corner from which Kanu ultimately scores the only goal of the game at home to Uganda.


Sun March 25th The papers are cruel to Lampard. Idiots! At least he doesn't hide or give less than 100 per cent. Germany release Ballack as they only have a friendly on Wednesday. Mourinho gives him time off until Thursday. Ivory Coast win 3-0 in Madagascar with Kalou setting up two goals and Drogba one. All our Africans look set to play the African Cup of Nations next year. That will stretch our squad. There are no more African internationals this week, but Mourinho doesn't want them reporting back until Thursday. In Bosnia-Herzegovina it's the turn of Ofori-Twumasi and Tom Taiwo to start as England Under-17s beat Azerbaijan 1-0. Woods stays on the bench. He'll be rested for the final game.

Mon March 26th Joe Cole goes for a scan on his foot. The stress fracture has healed. He can start full training again. But he can't! He's got a thigh strain from all the running he's been doing, and must wait a few more days. In Spain, where England are now training, Lampard is struck on the hand by a Rooney shot. He goes for a scan and there is a fractured bone in there. He becomes a doubt for Wednesday's game. Former defender Marcel Desailly is announced as an African scout for Milan, another of his former clubs. He spends a lot of his time now in Ghana.

Tue March 27th Having launched the Chinese version of our website recently, Chelsea now launches a Korean version. Kenyon and a number of Chelsea executives are out in Seoul to make it a big occasion. Chelsea is indeed looking to conquer the world. Training starts again. Wright-Phillips returns. Bridge starts running. The Tottenham fan who ran on the pitch and has been banned for life by the club, receives a £300 fine in court and suffers a banning order to all football games for three years. Chelsea announces a pre-season friendly at Rangers for the summer, on Saturday July 28 after coming back from the USA. The FA announces fines of £100,000 to both Chelsea and Arsenal for failure to control players in the Carling Cup Final stoppage time melee. In Spain, Lampard trains with England but has his hand bandaged. In Yeovil, England Under-18s beat Holland 4-1. Hutchinson makes his international debut at centre-back, Sinclair is on the left of a four-man midfield, and Sawyer comes off the bench to score a 35-yarder and make it 2-1. One goal for Chelsea all season, and a belter on his Under-18s international debut! In Bosnia-Herzegovina, Jonas Elmer makes his Switzerland Under-21s debut at left-back. They lose 1-0 to the hosts. In Slovakia, Miroslav Stoch, just 17, makes his Slovakia Under-19s debut, coming on after an hour in the 1-1 home draw with Sweden. The Chelsea kids are coming from everywhere!

Wed March 28th Essien feels pain in his knee while running, and heads to hospital for another scan. There is no new damage but he will need to rest for a few days. This damages his chances of being fit for the home game with Valencia. England announces that Lampard is not fit to play against Andorra tonight. In the afternoon, after training at Cobham, Carlo Cudicini goes to Stamford Bride to support the Playing For Success educational project which our Football In The Community has been part of. Former Blue Graeme Le Saux also turns out. It's the big international night. Sahar scores his first international goals, coming off the bench as Israel trounce Estonia 4-0, poaching the third and firing home the fourth from outside the area. He is our youngest international scorer ever. England are desperate in beating Andorra 3-0. Cole returns, Terry captains. It's two clean sheets for him. Cech and the Czech Republic beat Cyprus 1-0. Makelele is rested and Diarra wins his second cap as France beat Austria 1-0 in a friendly. Carvalho and Ferreira are again in defence for Portugal's 1-1 draw in Serbia. Former Blue Tiago gets Portugal's goal. Shevchenko leads Ukraine to a 1-0 win over Lithuania and they top their Group. Robben plays again in Holland's 1-0 win in Slovenia, Boulahrouz stays on the bench. In Spain's game, Valencia's Morientes dislocates his shoulder and will miss our game. They are losing more players than us! England Under-17s beat Serbia 2-1 with a goal three minutes from time to qualify for the European finals. Woods plays all game, Ofori-Twumasi most of it, and Taiwo comes on for the last seven minutes.

Thu March 29th Lampard has a scan in London and the fracture is confirmed. A light plaster is put on his hand that he can play in. The papers are saying the injury is a cover-up for him really being dropped by England. Tiresome, tiresome, tiresome! Training is at 1pm. Only the Dutch aren't back. Diarra has a shoulder injury and stays with the medical staff when everyone else goes out. Robben returns as the rest leave, and has discomfort in his knee. The Under-19s train later under Brendan Rodgers and then go to a hotel at Gatwick.

Fri March 30th The Sports Industry Best Sponsorship award goes to Samsung's sponsorship of us. Okay, it's not back page headlines, but it would be nice if it was noted. The Under-19s fly off to Dallas early, and Sahar flies there straight from Israel. Robben goes for a scan, and a complex tear is discovered in his meniscus, his cartilage. Joe Cole is running again. The squad heads off for Watford after training without Diarra who has not recovered. Robben has his operation in the evening. He will be out for at least four weeks.

Sat March 31st A very young youth team goes to Ipswich and beats an equally young youth team 4-1. It's a good experience for a lot of schoolboys. There are so many involved, with our best young players being in Dallas, that Under-16s coach Paul Clement manages them. Youth team coach Ruud Kaiser gives support. At Cobham, Essien is running again along with Joe Cole and Bridge. At three o'clock Manchester United kick off against Blackburn and after an hour are a goal down. But they come back to win 4-1. Pressure on! At 5.15 we kick off at Watford and are dreadful. Mourinho brings on Ferreira and Kalou at half-time for Geremi and Makelele, and goes almost 4-2-4 - more 4-2-3-1 - and later sends on Mikel for Cole and goes 3-3-4. Cech makes special stops early and late in the game. In stoppage time Kalou heads the only goal of the game from Shevchenko's cross. In the evening, in Spain, Valencia defender Ayala receives a bad cut to the head, recovers, plays on, then goes off with what seems concussion near the end. Somehow, we're still six points behind United. We're still in with a chance of winning every tournament we entered in August. Next month we'll be playing every midweek.


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