Shorts: Alex Signs New Deal, Joe Cole Next; JT new Maldini; World Cup Roundup: “You Lot Take it Up the Arse”

Not long to go now. Thirty-six and a bit hours and counting.

In the meantime…


Alex has signed a new four-year contract that is set to keep him at Stamford Bridge until 2013.

Ancelotti: “I am very happy that Alex has signed a new contract with the club. He is just returning from injury and surgery but he is a player I know well. I am familiar with all of his fantastic qualities, so I am delighted he will be with us for another four years.”

The club is gradually tying current players to extended contracts. Joe Cole is next in line and is said to be close to signing a new deal.

The Guardian’s Dominic Fifield writes that, with a transfer ban imminent, we have had no choice but to sign up existing players on long-term contracts.

There is a clear logic to the club’s strategy. This squad boast undoubted quality for all that they have been the nearly men in both Premier and Champions Leagues in recent seasons. It is hoped that Carlo Ancelotti might be the man to edge those same players from second to first place, or runners-up to winners, to remind them of what they were capable of achieving under José Mourinho not that long ago, hence the desire to offer extensions and renewals over the summer. The Kakuta ruling merely sped up the process. Should Chelsea be banned from registering new players in the next two windows, then the nightmare scenario was always that current first-team squad players nearing the end of their deals might seek pastures new and rob the London club of the depth in talent from which they currently benefit.

UPDATE: Chelsea to lodge appeal against Fifa’s transfer ban with Court of Arbitration.


Ancelotti says John Terry is as important at the Bridge as Paolo Maldini was during his time at AC Milan.

“Like Maldini at AC, Terry was born in this club. Like Maldini, he went through the academy at this club.

“And he has a very good feeling for this club, which is very important.”


Ancelotti takes swipe at Jose Mourinho after sexy dance routine on Italian TV.

“If Mourinho is Jesus, I am certainly not one of his apostles.”

Check out the look on Carlo’s face – I bet you smile.


Chelsea legend Dennis Wise has returned to football in the unlikely setting of non-League Chalfont St Peter.

Wise … has joined to help promote the Buckinghamshire club’s community initiatives. Chalfont St Peter are second in the Spartan South Midlands Premier League.

[A] club statement said that “his involvement will be purely on the community side, he will not, in any way, be involved with the football side.” Wise added that he was “proud to be part of this”.

The article also reports that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is poised to make a playing comeback for Blue Square South club Woking.


The Guardian reports that Fifa’s investigation into agent Pini Zahavi and the role he played in the transfer of Ashley Cole from Arsenal is still ongoing three years later.


Brian Moore says there’s nothing fit or proper about football’s test.

It is no good complaining about the behaviour of corporate charlatans in your house, if your own rules allow them through the door in the first place.

What is needed is a uniform test for both bodies to apply before any deal is done. If investors are not prepared to be transparent then they don’t get to be investors; it is fairly simple.

To those who claim this might put off investors you have to ask: what would be the motive of someone who seeks anonymity?


World Cup qualifiers.

The Daily Telegraph’s ‘In Pictures’.

And the Guardian’s.

Well worth checking out; there are some fantastic photos in both galleries.


Fabio Capello likened David Beckham winning the Man of the Match award having played for 32 minutes in England’s 3-0 win over Belarus to President Barack Obama last week winning the Nobel Peace Prize after only eight months in office.

“Yes I was a bit surprised,” said the England head coach. “I just thought it was like Obama getting the Nobel Peace Prize after eight months as President of the United States. He gets the man of the match after 30 minutes here …

“What impresses me about Beckham is that whether he comes on for 20 minutes, 50 minutes, half an hour or at half-time, he plays well and is always focused. Some players have problems when they come on as substitutes. Beckham always plays well, though.”

Jeff Powell in the Daily Mail wasn’t impressed that Beckham got the Man of the Match award.

Beckham mania descended into certifiable lunacy on Wednesday as England’s bit-part celebrity was named the man of a match to which he made a lesser contribution than the ball boys.

The award insulted the rest of England’s team by celebrating a man who did not come on until the last half hour, yet barely had the puff to reach the final whistle.

This plumbed depths lower than the bestowing of token substitute appearances which has given Beckham the most international caps of any outfield player in England history.

I’m one of the fools who thinks Beckham deserves a place in Capello’s World Cup squad because, you know, he’s still got something to offer. Particularly if he secures a loan move to AC Milan in January.


The Guardian’s Kevin McCarra writes that England’s poor performances have come at the right time to calm public expectations.

Fabio Capello’s latest gift to the country has been to grant it some scope for grumbling. Following England’s defeat in Ukraine there was a win over Belarus that was flecked with imperfections. No one can have left Wembley with the notion that the side is on the verge of greatness and nitpicking would have occupied many people on their journey home.

Also in the Guardian: The teams that lie between England and World Cup glory.

UPDATE: The Guardian’s Joy of Six: Great teams that missed out on the World Cup.

England (1934): The FA had withdrawn from Fifa in 1928 over some spurious nonsense about player payment, and during the 1930s couldn’t even be bothered to reply to invitations to play in the World Cup, snootiness multiplied by xenophobia on the end of a stick. It was hubris on a grand scale: one of the top teams in the world at the time, England could easily have landed at least one of the first three World Cups – and who knows, maybe even all of them.

UPDATE: The ten best World Cup shocks.

United States beat England, 1950: Possibly the most humiliating defeat in the history of the England side – and they made sure they did it on the greatest stage of all. It was England’s first appearance at the World Cup and Walter Winterbottom’s side were one of the favourites. Yet the Americans deservedly ran out winners in Brazil. Larry Gaetjens scored the only goal of the game as England protested about dodgy refereeing. When the scoreline was printed back at home, many readers thought the scoreline was a misprint.


The New York Times Soccer Blog says England’s expectations are too high for its players.

It’s the past — one World Cup triumph and many tragedies big and small — that is England’s burden. The World Cup victory of 1966 is fetishized here. At the World Cup in Germany in 2006 the English team wore replicas of the shirts worn by the triumphant 1966 team. It was 40 years later, the timing fit, and all that. And then “it,” the English cockiness, fizzled out, as it always does.


English soccer has reached its natural, second-tier level, a fact masked by the European Champions League club success of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. All three teams are packed with great players, but from Germany, Portugal, Holland and Spain. The idea of the current England squad being an equal of Germany and Italy is farcical. Most players for England’s national team are overrated and overpaid but the news media here is over the moon about them. Most lack discipline, exceptional skills and cunning. Tellingly, few ever succeed when playing for European clubs. Some have done it — Beckham and Owen at Real Madrid. But most, one suspects, are simply afraid of the rigors of playing in Spain or Italy.


The Telegraph lists its top 10 England World Cup songs. Includes YouTube links.

Obviously I disagree with their choice for the number one slot.

While we’re on the subject, check out the Football and Music blog. [Thx, J.]


Internet coverage of Ukraine v. England may be the new world, but don’t ask me to love it, says Des Lynam.

The lyric to the Gershwin song about doubting Thomases of another age was swimming around in my mind as I tried to remain positive about having to watch the Ukraine v England match at the weekend on my computer.

And so I logged in, or rather I did in the fullness of time. Not being the most computer literate I was only able to join the match when England were already a goal and a man down, but the fault was my incompetence not the provider’s.


“You lot take it up the arse,” were Diego Maradona’s words to the press immediately after his team secured a place at next year’s World Cup finals.

He wanted to dedicate the triumph to the fans back home and especially those who bothered to cross into Uruguay, to his girls Dalma and Giannina, and to his squad, who worked like never before for the 1–0 result. “But certain people who have not supported me, and you know who you are, can keep sucking,” he added.

Grotesque and undignified, Maradona then grabbed his genitals with both hands, signalling some sort of manly insult to the TV cameras in the tunnel outside the dressing room.

If Maradona’s still in charge next summer, no team will fear playing his Argentina side. How delicious it would be if England were given the opportunity to revenge 1986 and the ‘Hand of God’.


“I don’t think there is anybody bigger or smaller than Maradona.” The Independent lists its most bizarre quotes in sport.


The New York Times Soccer Blog selects an Ultimate XI of players who have never competed in a World Cup tournament game.

It’s some team: George Best, Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs et al.


Last but not least, a lengthy but quite splendid article in the Guardian about the Denmark side of the mid-80s.

[A]s Denmark’s first great side, they were subject to the peculiar kind of goodwill, gratitude and unconditional love that only occurs when you are exploring virgin territory. There was none of the wearying cynicism, complacency and expectation that accompanies modern football. This was an intoxicating red-and-white fairytale. The commentator Svend Gehrs, Denmark’s answer to John Motson in the 80s, hit the nail on the head when, seconds after Denmark had qualified for the semi-finals of Euro 84, he described them as “this unconquerable team of optimists”.


Right, I hope you enjoyed the links. I’m off to have a snooze before the first National League Championship Series game between the Phillies and the Dodgers. I love me some postseason baseball.

UPDATE: A quick parish notice (via Jonathan) – if anyone is going to the Villa game on Saturday and fancies doing the Observer Fan’s View column on the game (quick phone interview after the game, your name and views in the paper on Sunday), drop Nick a line (chelseablog AT gmail DOT com), his people will talk to my people etc.

UPDATE: Some previews of tomorrow’s Premier League match against Aston Villa: Official club website’s pre-match briefing; BBC Football; and the Daily Telegraph.