Jim White

  • Only beginning for ominous Barca

    In the bowels of Wembley Stadium, his bid to emulate Bob Paisley as a three-times winner of the European Cup in tatters, Sir Alex Ferguson was dignified in defeat on Saturday night.

    His Manchester United side had lost to the best football team he had ever seen in his life (and he was there in 1960 when Real Madrid had enraptured Glasgow). Barcelona deserved to win, he added, they played football the proper way as well as he had ever seen it done. It was well said.

    Mind, he had had time to compose himself, prepare the few words of congratulation to his opponent. From the moment Lionel Messi

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  • Hooray for Hull

    Saturday's victory by Hull City at the Emirates stadium was the most significant performance of the season so far. This was nothing to do with the extreme reaction it engendered in the home manager (though for Spurs fans, battered and humiliated by their club's worst start to a league season in living memory, Arsene Wenger's confession that he was so appalled he was nearly moved to vomiting by his team's abject showing was the thinnest of consoling straws on which to cling).

    Nor was it the cheery vision of 3,000 visiting supporters, many of whom had bought tickets on the assumption that this

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  • The show must go on

    Bernie Ecclestone is convinced: if the Premier League fixtures are postponed this weekend because of the disorder in our cities, it will send out a disastrous message to the rest of the world.

    The newest arrival in the Premier League with his Queen's Park Rangers, the Formula One supremo is well used to sending messages around the world. And what his messages usually say is this: the only thing that matters in any negotiation or dilemma is that which enriches me.

    But on this, you can't help feeling Ecclestone has a point. Sure, news footage of looting and arson and vandalism spun around the

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  • Going for football gold

    You probably missed it (the papers barely seemed to notice and the BBC could only rustle up 230 member of staff to go along and cover it) but the London Olympics opens in just a year's time.

    In 52 weeks from now, Steve Redgrave or Daley Thompson or Kelly Holmes will light the flame and the country's sportswriters will become instant experts on Greco-Roman wrestling, pistol shooting and the scoring system of synchronised swimming.

    New stars will emerge dripping from the swimming pool, world records will be shattered in the velodrome, Jessica Ennis will take a moment from her commercial

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  • The world’s most desperate league

    What a difference relegation makes. Last year's breath of fresh air seems to have transformed into this season's dark cloud of deepening depression.

    Ian Holloway, Blackpool's manager, looked yesterday at his club's pre-season media day like a man who had popped into the doctor's expecting to have an injection ahead of his holiday next week, only to be told he is unlikely to live that long.

    Talk about down, the erstwhile joker of the Premier League found himself suddenly without a gag. Everything was wrong: his players were unhappy with the pay cuts imposed on them post-relegation, his stars

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  • Will the real Wayne stand up?

    Before the World Cup there was a widespread consensus about England's chances: without Wayne Rooney, they were minimal. Which is roughly how things transpired. Rooney wasn't absent through injury, but his mojo was.

    In one of the most inexplicable declines in form since the release of the woeful Godfather Part Three, Rooney, as we all know, had a dire time in South Africa. It wasn't just that the double footballer of the year, the man who had spent the winter terrifying opposing defences with his strength, power and skill, was off the pace. It wasn't just that the form that had been so

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  • Joey and Twitter: the perfect match

    When a colleague returned early last season from interviewing Joey Barton with the news that the Newcastle midfielder was the most interesting, most intelligent footballer he had met in a long time, there was widespread scepticism in the office.

    This was Joey Barton, whose roll-call of dishonour included stubbing a cigar out in someone's eye, kicking the living daylights out of a youth in an early morning street brawl and not only rearranging the face of a colleague, but later calling him a "pussy" for complaining about it. Not forgetting the sly punch he administered on an opponent long

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  • South America: The only place to shop

    There is a fashion emerging in the Premier League: if you want to get ahead, get yourself a South American. Next season, the majority of the country's top clubs will be spearheaded by South Americans, largely relying on them to supply the goals.

    At Manchester United Javier Hernandez (all right, strictly a Central American) has already out-stripped all expectation, settling into his new club with panache and dash. As has Luis Suarez at Liverpool, a player who has just demonstrated his enormous talent at the Copa America and hit the ground running on Merseyside last season despite his new

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  • The world’s worst fantasy team

    It is that time of year again. Just as the riders in the Tour face their final gut-sapping climb, just as the ground staff at Lord's wheel on the covers for the fifteenth time, just as Goodwood glistens at its most glorious, so it is time to look ahead and select your fantasy football team for the new season.

    The discussions in our house have been endless, heated and pointed. After certain clear and obvious selections have been made - Vincent Kompany, Leighton Baines, Robin van Persie - every position has been argued into a corner. Now Ashley Young has been signed, will the assist-master Nani

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  • Tevez: Prince of the Blue Moan

    The latest research on the ageing process concludes that if you want to stay young, sure it helps doing exercise, eating a healthy diet, avoiding the pickling of your liver in booze and finishing the Sudoku every day. But the best thing of all is to maintain an optimistic outlook. Apparently endlessly moaning about your lot is just about guaranteed to provoke premature senility.

    In which case, you wonder how Carlos Tevez will feel when time catches up with him. Here is a man enjoying untold adulation, huge financial reward, enormous prospects and the unqualified approbation of his peers and

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