Jim White

  • Bellamy can be City saviour

    Despite his obvious physical attributes, Craig Bellamy was inexplicably over-looked this week when Steven Spielberg announced who he was casting in the lead role of his new movie, Tin Tin. So the Welsh international captain has instead been obliged to concentrate on the day job. Which, being Bellamy, this week changed for the eighth time in a football career best described as complicated.

    There was much mockery (particularly in the stands at Old Trafford) when Manchester City's pursuit of Kaka ended with the signing of Bellamy. As one pundit put it, it is like booking a holiday in Rio and

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  • The best team in the world?

    Ahead of his team's meeting with them in the Champions League, the Roma coach Luciano Spalletti casually referred to Chelsea as "the best team in the world". It was some endorsement for Luiz Felipe Scolari's players. And presumably this was the idea: to hang an albatross round their necks, burden them down with the label of being the best, to set them up as the triumphalist over-dog.

    After all, only this week Frank Lampard has been talking about how relieved he was to lose Chelsea's unbeaten home record. It was, he claimed, a monkey on the players' backs. Though there are many of his

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  • Changing of the guard. Again

    In the whirligig of transfers this week, one really caught the eye. Not Ronaldinho's move to Milan. That was so obviously going to happen only a die-hard Manchester City fan living in sky-blue cuckoo land could have believed otherwise.

    No, this one concerned Gilberto who has left Arsenal and joined Panathanaikos in Athens. In many ways it was not that surprising. Now 31, the Brazilian was reaching the end of his effectiveness at a club where youthful vigour is highly prized. He was a big earner and £1 million is not a bad fee for a man of his vintage. But for Arsenal fans it was significant.

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  • Phew, what a scorcher

    There was much mockery (some of it possibly emanating from this blog) before a ball was kicked in Euro 2008 about the television schedules. Without a home nation in contention, the chortling went, how amusing will it be for executives to have to shift ratings-bankers like soaps and light entertainment in order to accommodate matches no-one will want to watch? The game that was used as a prime example was the Czech Republic against Turkey. Tee hee, we all sniggered, you can imagine the fans of Coronation Street being delighted to see their favourite fix shunted to find room for that. No-one,

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  • What to do about the boy?

    Watching Manchester United labour against Newcastle over the weekend, it seemed Sir Alex Ferguson was pioneering a new kind of football team. One without forwards.

    When young Fraizer Campbell limped off midway through the second half, we were gifted a view as to quite how far injury, suspension and the siren call of the Olympic Games had devastated the playing staff of Europe's top club: they played out the last 15minutes without anyone on the park who might be regarded as a goalscorer.

    There was no-one on the bench either. Instead, there were a bunch of game youngsters running around out of

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  • Take me to your leader

    The L word has been banned around the Emirates. Arsene Wenger, understandably exasperated by events over the past ten days, has refused to talk about it. He has even suggested that he doesn't believe in it. Yes, as far as Arsenal are concerned, leadership is up there with Santa and the Tooth Fairy: it's all a bit of a myth.

    Wenger's point - clearly formulated to lessen the sense of crisis gripping his club - is that leadership is an over-rated virtue. What is more important, he said this weekend, was the ability to pass a football properly. No point gritting teeth and clenching fists if the

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  • Is this the end?

    If you want to know why the top clubs these days maintain squads more populous than the average market town, the evidence was there in this week's Champions League games.

    In Romania, Chelsea, already without Michael Essien, Deco, Ricardo Carvalho and both Coles, lost Didier Drogba midway through their goalless draw with FC Cluj. The sight of the Ivorian making his way from the pitch with his head in his hands must have sent shudders down the spine of every Chelsea supporter. The guy was only three matches into a recovery from a knee injury. Now it appears that he has suffered ligament damage

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  • Oldies to the fore

    Emboldened by a prediction I made for a Manchester local television station ahead of the Champions League final ("It'll go to penalties, after being 1-1 after extra time," I said. "And you know Edwin Van der Sar has saved penalties against Chelsea before") I am going to make one for the Euro 2008: Spain are going to win it.

    Mind, the thing about the Champions League one was I didn't really believe it. I was pretty certain Chelsea were going to do it, but just said that because it was a Manchester television station and I didn't want to upset their viewers. Unfortunately I barely remembered

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  • City on the up, up and away

    Another day, another bunch of alleged targets for Manchester City. If it's Thursday it must be Luis Fabiano of Sevilla and the Schalke goalie Manuel Neuer. A mere £36 million between them is the offer from the Blues, if we are to believe the newspaper back pages.

    The opening of the transfer window is still five weeks away, first we've got to survive the most financially depressed Christmas in a generation, but already the speculation about City's imminent spending spree is reaching a noisy crescendo. John Terry, Kaka, Gianluigi Buffon (pictured): this is the A-list being targeted here. And,

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  • No longer singing the Blues

    Here is a statistic that will send a shudder down the spine of every other team in the Premier League, if not Europe. Since they last conceded a goal - at home to Manchester United - Chelsea have scored 13 times without reply.

    That kind of record speaks of a team in purringly good form, a team as proficient up front as they are mean-minded at the back. But then you didn't need statistics to tell you that. A glance at the manner in which they destroyed Middlesbrough over the weekend will suggest that Deco might not be being overly fanciful in his assertion that he is in line to win his third

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