Jim White

  • Talking Ronaldo, Real and Fergie with Gary Neville

    I met Gary Neville this week, the footballer who has so gracefully transferred to the analyst's chair. His excellence at Sky's tactics board, the way he so easily articulates a perception born of playing the game at the highest level, is a lesson to every aspiring ex-pro: this man is the business. Nor is he shy of delivering his opinion. Lots of opinion: he flings out more ideas and insights in five minutes than most of us manage in a month. Actually a year.

    And this week he was talking Ronaldo, Real Madrid and tonight's Champions League game against Manchester United. Not that everything he

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  • Gazza made the Premier League possible

    It would be nice to think, as they rest up in their home cinemas ahead of this weekend’s Premier League fixtures, or do a couple of lengths in their basement pool, that the footballing inhabitants of England’s millionaire’s row raise a glass of sparkling stuff to the man who made it all possible. Sparkling water, obviously. And how Paul Gascoigne could use their sympathies right now. Not to mention a bit of their cash.

    It may have been done unwittingly, it may have just been a lucky coincidence, it was certainly done without forethought (not much he has ever done has been planned or thought

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  • All hail England’s greatest ever defender

    “I don’t want to sit here and keep going on about wanting to be loved. I’m here to play football.”

    So said Ashley Cole in the pooled interview he undertook ahead of receiving his 100th England cap tonight. And he’s right. David Beckham might well think it is, but if football were really a popularity contest how come Lothar Matthaeus, possibly the least appealing personality ever to play the game, managed to accrue 150 caps for Germany?

    Cole is not liked. There is no pretending he is. At best he is ignored by rival fans. But mainly he is jeered. It is part of the fabric of the English game now,

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  • Odemwingie a victim of deadline day chaos

    Peter Odemwingie isn’t the only footballer who will look back on this week’s transfer deadline day as not the happiest. Indeed Maarten Stekelenburg’s wasted journey makes Odemwingie’s 125-mile drive down the M40 look like a quick jaunt round the corner.

    The Dutch keeper had boarded a flight from Rome to London assuming that he was going to sign with Fulham. As far as he was aware as he eased his long legs into his business class seat, all that was required was a medical and a bit of paperwork and he would be turning out for Martin Jol in the Premier League by Saturday against Manchester

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  • City better off without Balotelli

    None of it was true, apparently. All those stories of his eccentric largesse, the tales of chucking money from the windows of his camouflage Bentley, of paying for a bunch of homeless guys to stay at Manchester’s five-star Lowry hotel over Christmas, of handing over his winnings on the roulette table to a chap begging outside the casino (more than a grand was the story): they were all fabricated. Mario Balotelli wasn’t quite the batty philanthropist of wider imagining.

    It makes you wonder, though, if he wasn’t spending his time driving round the city endlessly trying to part with some of his

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  • Zaha has perfect role model in Giggs

    One thing about Wilfried Zaha: at 20 he is still a bit young to be considered for ball-boy duties at Swansea City. What he isn’t, however, is too young to be the subject of a significant investment by Manchester United.

    Although no figures were released either by United or the selling club Crystal Palace, it is thought upwards of £12 million will eventually exchange hands. Which could mean, in these days of inflated transfer fees, United have pulled off the bargain of the decade.

    Not that United fans are going to see the player in their team’s colours anytime soon. In a very shrewd move,

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  • Parkinson deserves plaudits for historic feat

    Bradford’s chairman was on the radio just ahead of his team’s League Cup semi against Aston Villa last night saying that he had received only one inquiry about his manager Phil Parkinson since the victory in the first leg. You imagine his phone will be ringing hot today.

    Parkinson’s ability to prepare his team for a big match has surely been noted across the game. Much has been made of the cost of his side at Valley Parade: £7,500 was all that he paid to assemble the team that has now knocked out three Premier League clubs.

    About the same, it should not be forgotten, as Benito Carbone received

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  • Chelsea still a big draw for managers

    It is, according to football's Uncle Fester, all over at Stamford Bridge. Interviewed in the Sun this morning, Ray Wilkins suggests that the decision of Pep Guardiola to spurn Chelsea and head for Bavaria means Roman Abramovich will find it now nigh-on-impossible to recruit a decent manager.

    Guardiola's refusal is the first indication that the Russian's twitchy impatience with his coaches is becoming problematic. It might be thought he has everything available to attract the top talent from across the globe: more money than Croesus, a budget to die for, a state-of-the-art training facility

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  • Arsenal’s Financial Fair Play moans don’t add up

    At first reading it might seem there is nothing wrong with Arsenal’s letter asking for Financial Fair Play to be introduced to the Premier League.

    'Live within your means' seems the minimum requirement for football clubs. Especially when the rewards from television income are now so huge, it appears madness that certain operations are able to sustain un-viable losses thanks to benefactors. And we know precisely who the Gooners are whining about.

    But just ask yourself this: which of the following is a better model for football in the long term? One in which a set of owners, by dint of a

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  • Liverpool strive for renewed relevance

    Before Christmas I went to Elland Road to watch Leeds take on Chelsea in the Capital One Cup and if such spume-flecked fury can be described as such, there was something almost poignant about the hostility the locals showed to their visitors. Back in the seventies the animosity between the two clubs was intense, reflected as much on the pitch as on the terraces: boy did those players hate each other. It was a clash of cultures as much as a reflection of the north/south divide. But it was also a rivalry stoked by this fact: both sides were pursuing the game’s big prizes. When they back then

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