Jim White

  • Scrutiny gets serious for United as Wigan return to Wembley

    Not that there will be many of their supporters there to witness it, but Sunday will be an historic occasion for Wigan Athletic.

    It is not just the first time the club has appeared in the Community Shield, it will represent the first time any team has taken part in what we have long been contractually obliged to call the “traditional curtain raiser to the season” after they have already opened their league programme.

    A pity, then, that the club is struggling to shift tickets; not much more than 6,000 had be sold for their end by this morning.  Which is no surprise in these straightened times,

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  • Clubs can’t win with ‘sappers’ Bale, Rooney and Suarez

    The push-me-pull-you Bale-Rooney-Suarez summer transfer saga long ago turned into an end-of-pier farce.

    The posturing, the moaning, the laughable insistence that no one is going anywhere: it is all a smokescreen. We know already where this is going to end up. And it is not with all three of them staying where they are.

    What we are seeing now is football’s version of that phoney bargaining tried on by tourists in the souk in Marrakech. You offer a price way below what is being asked then pretend you’re not really bothered when it is turned down and a higher price demanded. The bold tripper then

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  • Unsignable Barton a hostage to his own huge wages

    I’m really hoping that in among what Charlie Brooker would refer to as the “suffocating quantity of blah” that is BT Sport they find a place for Neville Southall. The rotund former Everton keeper was on talkSPORT this week and his analysis was somewhat more bracing than we can expect from BT’s well-remunerated punditry team of Michael Owen, Owen Hargreaves and David James.

    Asked to assess Joey Barton’s skill set he said of the former Manchester City and Newcastle midfielder: “well, he can run all day. But then so could Forrest Gump.”

    As a comparison it was supremely apt. Gump was a man who

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  • Agents’ culture of greed driving summer of discontent

    We are now in the summer of footballing discontent. Everywhere you look there are players railing against the inhuman circumstance under which they are obliged to work, the almost slave-like conditions which govern their daily lives.

    There’s Gareth Bale, hurt by Spurs’ refusal to let him chat with Real Madrid, a position Zinedine Zidane – whose objectivity cannot be doubted simply because he has a position at Madrid - reckons is tantamount to human rights abuse.

    There’s Wayne Rooney, hurt by David Moyes’s lacerating observation that he might, perhaps, maybe not be first choice in his favoured

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  • Remember these long-haul tours next time England are struggling

    There is a fascinating graphic in this morning’s Daily Telegraph which Roy Hodgson would be well advised to cut out and pin on the noticeboard in his Wembley office. It shows the mileage chalked up by our leading clubs as they spin round the globe on their pre-season tours.

    At the head of the pack, earning so many airmiles the squad could spend the rest of their lives upgrading to business class are Chelsea (that’s if they do anything as down-market as travel by scheduled flights). 30,455 miles the Blues will have totted up as they spin from the US to Asia and back again over the next week or

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  • Real Madrid could yet beat Arsenal to Suarez

    I enjoyed John Henry’ s tweet this morning. It came in response to Arsenal’s cheeky little release-clause activating 40million and a pound bid for Luis Suarez.

    “What do you think they are smoking over there at Emirates?” Henry asked.

    To which the only answer is: whatever it may be it is a lot less powerful than what was in Henry’s pipe when he paid £35million for Andy Carroll. Now that was stuff with some illusionary effect.

    As it happens, the bid from the Emirates was not a bit of weed-inspired whimsy. Rather it was a clever little opening of negotiation. If there is a release clause which

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  • FIFA’s farcical winter plans undermine World Cup

    There is a furore gripping World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. An Edward Snowden-style whistleblower has revealed online the plotlines for forthcoming WWE pay-for-view bouts. He knows precisely what is going to happen in dozens of the biggest future scraps arranged by the body because he has hacked into their official documentation.

    It appears – and please feel free to hold on to something if you are reading of this for the first time – WWE engagements are pre-arranged, co-ordinated and choreographed. Astonishingly some are even using the term fixed. Wrestling a pantomime? Who’d have thought

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  • Rooney: A saga to dominate the summer

    Never mind a Briton leading the Tour de France, forget the start of the Open, put to the back of your mind what already promises to be the most absorbing of Ashes series, the newspapers have decided what is the sporting story of the summer: Wayne Rooney’s future.

    The revelation that Chelsea have had a transfer offer turned down by Manchester United has whipped up a maelstrom, turning speculation into frenzy. United may have publicly stated that the bid had been rejected because the player was not for sale. But it is clear to anyone reading the runes (or, to use headline speak, the roons) that

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  • Tour mania shows 39th game is still alive

    A cardboard Wayne Rooney stands in for the real one in Bangkok (Reuters)

    It happens every year. There’s a crushing surge in Bangkok, an outbreak of boy-band over-excitement in Jakarta, a sixty thousand sell-out crowd in New York at which someone somewhere suggests it can only be a matter of time before the Premier League returns to the idea of the 39th game. Just look how popular the English clubs are as they undertake their pre-season tours to the Far East, South Africa and the USA.

    If they can whip up a crowd this big for a meaningless stroll in the sun, imagine how intense things would get if they played a match in these territories that actually meant

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  • Wantaway Benteke proves competition is dead in football

    Christian Benteke earlier this week conformed absolutely to modern type.

    The young Belgian, perhaps following the advice of an agent whose gaze is not necessarily focused on the long term, has put in a transfer request. He wants out of Aston Villa.

    Never mind what Paul Lambert is attempting to build at Villa Park, never mind how adored he is by the Villa faithful, he would like to be gone pronto, preferably to Chelsea, but maybe to Spurs. At least somewhere that will give him the opportunity to test himself in the Champions League. That, after all, is the modern way.

    That he will go is now

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