Jim White

  • For Adel, now is the time to stay

    Football has long had a dysfunctional relationship with the English language. No more so than during the frantic close season transfer market. It is around now that words change meaning entirely.

    When Gael Clichy, for instance, insists that he left Arsenal because they didn't "love" him enough, we quickly realise that in this instance the word "love" actually means "pay". And when we hear that Carlos Tevez is desperate to leave Manchester in order to be closer to his daughters, what that actually means is "be closer to another vast signing-on fee".

    But no word changes its meaning quite as

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  • Fourth best? Fourth rate more like

    And there we were thinking FIFA hated England. Yet the latest world rankings issued by Sepp Blatter's statistic department suggest that - please ensure you are sitting down as you engage with this news -England are the fourth best footballing nation in the world.

    It is true: there they are in the Coca-Cola sponsored list just behind Spain, Netherlands and Germany, ahead of Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Croatia, Mexico, Argentina and the rest of the footballing planet. And then people accuse Fleet Street of hyping up the claims of our national XI way beyond sustainable means.

    How, you might wonder,

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  • Not the end of the world at the Emirates

    The doors at the Emirates are all facing in one direction this summer: outwards. The dash for the exits is now set to define Arsenal's summer. First Gael Clichy, next Samir Nasri, with in all probability the ludicrously extended soap opera that is Barcelona's interest in Cesc Fabregas following up as the punchline.

    When Arsene Wenger told us this could be a significant close season in the life of his club, nobody expected him to be talking about a fire sale.

    Clichy's move to Manchester City is, as yet, the only virtually confirmed transfer, but it speaks volumes for what is going on at the

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  • The triumph of the coach

    Andre Villas-Boas is, he is keen to tell us, his own man. In no way
    is he Mourinho mark two, Junior Jose or the Special One's mini-me. It's
    true that he is Portuguese, speaks several languages fluently and has
    won a European title with Porto.

    Sure, he might look good in a
    suit on the touchline, know how to wear stubble, have a belief in the
    primacy of research and system, believe that a manager's job entails the
    embrace of mind games and have ambitions to conquer the world before
    his dotage, but that is about as far as any similarity with his
    long-term mentor goes. He will come to Chelsea,

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  • Wembley in ‘quite good’ shock

    The news that Wembley has been chosen to stage the Champions League final in 2013, for the second time in two years, was greeted by many with bemusement.

    This is the same Wembley that we in this country routinely disparage, the place of gridlock, with a pitch that until recently resembled a cabbage patch, where the cups of tea are so pricey they offer a hire purchase scheme at the till. How we chortled at the madness of having the game back there once more, so soon after Barcelona humbled Manchester United there.

    But here are the top brasses of European football praising it as the most

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  • Villa courting of McLeish bizarre

    What a bizarre thing it is that Aston
    Villa want Alex McLeish
    to be their next manager.

    This is not to say he isn't good enough
    for the job. Disciplined, organised, decent, approachable and altogether more
    human than many in the Premier League, he would in other circumstances be an
    excellent prospect.

    Other clubs might well look on in envy
    at Villa's recruitment of the sturdy Scot. The trouble is, this is Aston Villa
    we're talking about. And until the end of the season McLeish
    was manager of Birmingham City
    . In the tribal jungle of football politics that
    makes him entirely unsuitable.


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  • The young ones

    What a week it has been for the promotion of young English talent. Indeed anyone might think, given the sums handed over for Jordan Henderson, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, that this country is the cradle of the very best players in the world. There must be something in our water.

    The premium for English players in the transfer market is one of the more inexplicable phenomena of the modern game. Given how the nation fares in national competition it seems odd beyond explanation. Surely, the priciest players around should be young Spaniards. Yet there are Manchester United forking out £16 million

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  • Fulham’s man on a mission

    When Fulham play Liverpool in the Premier League next season, all eyes will be on the directors' box. There we will be able to watch Damien Comolli turn a bright crimson colour with embarrassment the moment he spots who is in the opposition dug out. Or at least we will be able to if the bloke has any sense of shame.

    Comolli, you will remember, was the director of football who, when in charge of Tottenham, fired Martin Jol. This despite the Dutchman leading the club to a top-five finish twice in four years, taking them to numerous cup quarter- and semi-finals, getting the best out of Robbie

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  • United’s secret weapon: non-playing Nani

    This time Alex Ferguson is not taking it lightly. There will be no complacency. No certainty. The talk of entering the final as underdogs will not be the product of typical footballing false modesty. History suggests he and his team need to beware.

    In 2009 Manchester United were torn apart by Barcelona in the Champions League final, lucky to lose 2-0, their defence, like the rest of us, standing back in admiration to watch Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o score. His side carved open time and again, creating little in response, afterwards the United manager could do no more than articulate what

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  • Giggs mentally strong enough to tear Barca apart

    You wonder how the conversation went between Ryan Giggs and his solicitor the day the MP used parlimentary privilege and the player found himself the lead item on News at Ten and his face on every newspaper front page.

    For those whose interest lies in him solely as a footballer, the fiasco brewed by Schillings, the London law firm specialising in defamation, privacy and reputation management, could not have been worse timed.

    Giggs faces his most important match of the season on Saturday and the principal question that needs to be addressed is this: how will the farrago affect his form?


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