Jim White

  • Newcastle revel in bizarre renaissance

    I was talking to a Newcastle United supporter yesterday. The interesting thing was — like every other Newcastle fan I have ever met — he did not conform remotely to type.

    Just as all Manchester United fans are said to hail from Godalming and all Leeds followers are dismissed as Neanderthals, the received wisdom about the Geordie faithful is that they have ludicrously ambitious expectations. They are — so the widespread notions go — convinced their club should be winning every trophy in sight and are thus in a constant condition of agitation when they don't.

    The weeping Geordie is almost as big

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  • We all love Mario (except City)

    Mario Balotelli: why always him?

    I think Mario Balotelli is great. He is a huge addition to the public landscape. Apparently on a one-man mission to cheer us all up, everything about him is hilarious, from his Buster Keaton-faced goal celebrations through his choice of t-shirts to his daily scrapes.

    And every "why always me" moment invariably cheers me up. Particularly the revelation that his assignation with the gold-digger who pursued Wayne Rooney was but "a brief encounter". One, presumably, more Boris Becker than Trevor Howard.

    Whatever his apparent abrasiveness, though, I believe he is decent guy at heart. There is

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  • Liverpool must back flawed Dalglish

    Liverpool have provided over the years far more media pundits than any other club. From Jim Beglin and Jan Molby, through Mark Lawrenson to the king of them all, Alan Hansen, ex-Liverpool players stalk the studios and newspaper columns of the land.

    Largely they do not see their role as that of the critic. Products of the legend, they reckon their brief is to promote it. Thus, when one breaks ranks, you take note. John Aldridge's assertion this week that it was embarrassing to be a Liverpool supporter at the moment carried much more weight simply because who it was saying it. Aldridge is not

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  • Chelsea have no chance in Europe

    A couple of intriguing ideas surfaced this week. First was the extraordinary prospect that David Moyes, the man who has made a career from being the outsider, who has long chippily relished the thought that he is unconsidered, unloved and unnoticed, had emerged from under the radar to become established as the nation's favourite.

    After his Everton beat Sunderland to set up a Mersey derby FA Cup semi-final on April 14, suddenly he has been burdened with every neutral's hopes that he finally win a trophy. Especially when in doing so he can put one over on the increasingly unattractive and

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  • Hoddle for England? How has it come to this?

    Fans of Wolves, never mind England, would shudder at the thought of Hoddle's returnGlenn Hoddle has never been quite as sure with words as he was with a football. His syntax is at times as tortured, over-wrought and convoluted as his passes were concise, precise and beautifully executed. And he was in full muddle this week, as he claimed once again that "he never said them things" about the disabled paying for the sins of a previous life.

    In fact, he insisted in an interview in The Independent on Monday, he would never say them things. He would never dream of saying the very words that cost him the England manager's job, the job he has wanted all his life, the job to which

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  • Struggling Spurs on shaky ground

    Here are a couple of statistics that shed fresh light on Tottenham's season. Arsenal — a club pitched deep into apparently terminal crisis but two months ago - have scored five more Premier League goals than they have. In the last 13 league games, Spurs have taken 19 points. Blackburn, seemingly adrift with a manager no one wants and owners everyone hates, have taken 18.

    Oh, and Spurs haven't won at Stamford Bridge since 1990. A win for Chelsea — the club that fired its manager for his failure to deliver an acceptable challenge - in this weekend's cross-town derby would move them to within two

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  • Vieira wrong over Scholes jibe

    Patrick Vieira is one of football's good guys. Intelligent, decent, thoughtful, like many a modern player of African descent, his philanthropic instincts are substantial.

    Sure, he was not averse to administering the odd kick — some less sly than others — during his playing career. But there is no doubt he was the engine of the great Arsenal teams of the noughties. The measure of his significance marked by the failure of the club adequately to replace him.

    In many ways, he is to Arsenal what Paul Scholes is to Manchester United: an embodiment writ large of the club's sense of itself. United too

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  • UEFA set course for Clasico final

    Is a Barcelona-Real Madrid final inevitable?Those balls must have been nice and warm in UEFA headquarters this morning, hot enough to keep the entire town of Nyon toasty in the glow.

    For the blazers, the draw for the Champions League latter stages could not have come out better. We are set for the course that the competition's organisers wanted all along: Madrid versus Barcelona in the final in Munich on May 16, La Liga in the ascendant, El Clasico exported to Bavaria. Sure, there is a way to go yet. But already the full beam gleam in the marketeers' eyes is sufficient to dazzle all oncoming traffic.

    Jose against Pep, Cristiano against

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  • Where would Everton be without Moyes?

    David Moyes has managed well above Everton's means for a decadeIt wasn't the greatest way to mark an anniversary. Ten years in charge at Everton and David Moyes saw his team shredded in the game that matters most to his constituents. Losing 3-0 at Anfield to a Liverpool struggling for cohesion and points, a home derby hat-trick secured by one of the men in red for the first time since Fred Howe did it in 1935, the Kop giving sarcastic rendition of "10 more years": the facts did not point to a riotous celebration.

    Moreover, some Evertonians were left scratching their heads as to why Royston Drenthe and Nikica Jelavic, two attacking players in real form,

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  • Athletic’s blueprint for beating United

    Dave Woods, commentating on Channel 5 got it spot on: Old Trafford, he said, used to be a fortress on European nights, now it has become a gift shop. For the third time this season, Manchester United were embarrassed at home in Europe.

    And the trio doing the damage to them have not come from the continental elite. It is not Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern giving Alex Ferguson's team the runaround while their fans out-sing the locals in the stands. It has been Basel, Ajax and last night the quite excellent Athletic Club.

    How did this happen? How did a club that has been in three of the last

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