Jim White

  • Who’s for the drop?

    It's one of the oldest clichés in the managerial lexicon: the league table doesn't lie. And there is truth in it: usually the teams at the bottom deserve to be there.

    But this season, apart from poor old West Ham, sleepwalking their way to the Championship, it would be hard to make a case that any of the likely candidates for the other two relegation slots have brought it upon themselves. All of them, at one time or another, have contributed to this the most competitive Premier League since the competition's inception. All of them will believe the swing of the trap door to be the most unjust

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  • A stalemate? No surprise there

    It was a game many were looking forward to, Chelsea's power coming up against Barcelona's artistry, brawn against brain, lung capacity against grey matter. 'Beauty and the Beast', one of the Barcelona newspapers called it. Which is a little harsh on Chelsea's personnel, but we got the point.

    Guus Hiddink had predicted a classic, just like Chelsea's wonderful quarter-final against Liverpool a fortnight earlier. The Camp Nou was full, the television audience massive, the expectation jangling. And what did we get? A stalemate.

    Sure, it was on a more elevated level tactically and skill-wise than

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  • Price hikes driving fans away

    You need to be careful what you mock in football. Six years ago, Arsenal fans arriving at the Millennium Stadium for the FA Cup final against Manchester United had great fun at their rivals' expense. United had just been taken over by Malcolm Glazer, and in mourning for the passing of their great club into a future of debt, the Manchester fans had dressed entirely in black. Arsenal supporters waved stars and stripes flags and flourished fistfuls of fake dollars, hooting at the thought of American owners making life miserable for their northern rivals.

    Six years on, and, like an audience at a

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  • Fletcher can bring down Barcelona

    Judging by his teamsheet last night, Sir Alex Ferguson turned his attention to Barcelona long before a shadow Manchester United side finished off Schalke at Old Trafford.

    Ferguson has just over three
    weeks in which to ponder this: what does he have to do to ensure his team are
    not humiliated again in the manner they were the last time these two sides met
    in the final, in 2009.

    Back
    then, there were many - me included - who thought United's victory against
    Arsenal in the semi-final pointed the tactical route to victory. Particularly
    in the away leg at the Emirates, Ferguson's side had given a

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  • Time for Fabregas to go?

    In a season when nobody appears to be any keener on winning the Premier League title than they are on being relegated, the two most overworked words in football are being given a pounding. If and Maybe are everywhere in this run-in.

    Here's one for Arsenal fans: if their team beat Tottenham tonight, then beat Manchester United in their league fixture on May 1, then get a favour from Chelsea in their game with United, then maybe the title could be on its way to the Emirates. If and Maybe: they are mentioned so often in connection with Arsenal this season they could do service as Arsene Wenger's

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  • Manchester mad for it

    Back in 1968, when Manchester City last won the title, their neighbours callously spoiled their party by winning, a couple of weeks later, a far more significant prize when they collected the European Cup. Forty-three years later, the chances are United won't even give them a fortnight to enjoy local supremacy.

    Tomorrow, if form is any guide, Alex Ferguson's men are likely to gain the point required to be crowned champions at Blackburn a few hours before Carlos Tevez has a chance to lift the FA Cup. Even if, that is, Stoke acquiesce. There are United fans already planning to dash back from

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  • England simply do not cut it

    In 1986 it
    was the Hand of God. In 1990 it was the unfairness of the penalty shoot-out. In
    2006 it was the distraction of the WAGs. With England there is always an
    excuse.

    And this
    time round, when they have been better prepared, better facilitated, better
    coached than ever before, we are told that the players are going stir crazy,
    that life within the training camp is too harsh, that the manager needs to
    lighten up, smile, put an arm round the shoulder occasionally rather than snap everyone
    to attention.

    It is, of
    course, nonsense. England are where they are right now - poised on the lip of

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  • Going looks good for Fergie-Jose final

    Sir Alex Ferguson was at Cheltenham on Friday, watching his horse What A Friend in action.

    His nag may be the Wolves of the Gold Cup, but Fergie appears to be enjoying the opportunity to play the owner, mixing with race men, swapping tips, getting away from the fraught soap opera that is the Premier League.

    How thrilled he must have been, then, to see a growing knot of pressmen gathering at the one entrance to the owners' bar where he was calming his pre-race nerves.

    The Sky cameras were there, the radio mics, the reporters' notebooks, all seeking comment not on the going (good to soft), not

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  • Too rich to cheat

    I interviewed Robbie Savage this week, ahead of his retirement from football tomorrow afternoon. Just like his radio persona, he proved engaging company: opinionated, lively, open.

    Great bloke he might be, but even Savage himself admits he was not a great player. Sure, he did not accrue over 650 appearances by being without merit. But he accepts it is his media profile which has latterly given him the attention his playing alone would never have delivered. A character within the game, the Championship's pantomime villain, he never turned out for a top four club, his Premier League career one

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