Jim White

  • Malouda my player of 2010

    Player of the year

    Wayne Rooney had a good three months, Thomas Vermaelen a good six. And, like most Frenchmen, the player who takes the award hardly excelled during the month of June in South Africa.

    But for most of 2010, Florent Malouda was magnificent, some might say the reason Chelsea won the Double. He scored 12 goals himself and supplied as many for others; his power, pace and drive absolutely fitting the Chelsea template.

    What was particularly noteworthy about his year was that he had long been written off as a waste of space, not least by some Chelsea supporters. One of Jose

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  • Why Rooney really wants out

    Well
    no one saw that coming. When the football hacks gathered yesterday for Sir Alex
    Ferguson's Champions League press conference they expected the brush off. Any
    inquiry about Wayne Rooney they imagined would be dismissed with a curt sneer,
    an angry glare and the inevitable ban from future contact with the manager. Instead they got a six-minute confessional.

    Fergie, calm, dignified, polite,
    explained with unprecedented openness precisely what was going on in Wayne's
    world. At times bewildered, at times disappointed, he bore the air of a father
    fundamentally let down by an errant offspring.

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  • Fry’s yobbish delight

    Those with
    longer memories will recall the footage of Barry Fry arriving to manage
    Birmingham City in 1993.

    The first
    appointment of the new owners - the pornographers, or rather, as they prefer to
    be called, the adult entertainment entrepreneurs David Sullivan and David Gold
    - Fry was not exactly short of self-confidence as he surveyed the St Andrews
    stands.

     The man who likes to tell the world he played
    with George Best - well he did, but only on the Manchester United youth team -
    was singing his personal anthem: Simply The Best. So animated was his rendition
    as the cameras rolled, all he

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  • England rubbish: who knew?

    The only surprise is that so many people seemed surprised.

    England toil hopelessly for 90 minutes against spirited opposition, showing all the flair, nous and originality of an X Factor contestant rejected at the first audition and then people are astonished?

    Did no-one watch the World Cup? Were they somehow unaware of what happened in Cape Town when England and Algeria played out a goalless draw of such mind-numbing sterility the FA should have been obliged to compensate everyone who watched for loss of 90 minutes of their lives?

    Because this was the same England who laboured through that

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  • The also rans of Europe

    When the FA were persuading Sven Goran Eriksson to become England manager back in 2001, it is said that the Chief Executive Adam Crozier wrote a list of names down on the back of an envelope. When Eriksson saw the talent that was available to him, he immediately signed up to the job. This, the Swede thought, was a squad that could do business. Who couldn't win with that lot available for selection?

    As it turned out, the only business Eriksson managed to produce from Crozier's golden generation was of a sort more usually conducted in private involving a flush. As the now Leicester boss

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  • Now’s the time to reclaim our game

    Yanks out. Yanks in. There is nothing to add about the ludicrous shenanigans at Liverpool this week, except to point out that the terrible Texas twosome who held the club to ransom for so long appear to be spending their time on a job creation scheme for lawyers.

    Thanks to the brinkmanship of Messrs Hicks and Gillett, with those pointless interventions in the high court, in the Texan, probably in the Ulan Bator magistrates court, tens of thousands of pounds have been earned by briefs and silks. Or will have been if they ever get paid. After all, the Americans have shown a flexible approach to

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  • The real thing

    In Addis Ababa, things are gearing up for the biggest annual sporting event of the year. Unless Haile Gebrselassie happens to be winning an Olympic gold medal, there is nothing that brings people on to the streets of the Ethiopian capital like it.

    Everywhere, colours are being displayed, bunting pegged out, rivalries declared. Things may not kick off until 11pm locally, but nonetheless the crowds are expected to be as big as ever, gathering around collective television screens, living every second, hoping the erratic city electricity supply manages to keep them all connected throughout its

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  • England learning how to lose

    Let us not, in this moment, be bitter. Let us instead heed the homily of Sepp Blatter when he tells us that football's fundamental lesson is learning how to lose. Which in England we usually do where football is concerned.

    Let us instead, from our position of humiliation, celebrate the victors. Like Russia. Lucky Russia: eight long years to build 13 stadiums and find a load of grass for the one they already have.

    Oddly, none of the money required for that vast herding of white elephants over the next decade will come from the Zurich gnomes. But prime minister Putin - who, you suspect given his

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  • Time to give England a proper competition

    For the first time in what seems like a century, never mind a decade, England will step out for an international fixture on Wednesday evening without any of the Chelsea trio of John Terry, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole.

    Which, if for no other reason, makes this game with France an intriguing occasion.

    Such has been the stranglehold the gilded threesome have had over selection during the reigns of Sven-Goran Eriksson, Steve McClaren and Fabio Capello that come hell or high water at least one of their names would be on the team sheet.

    No matter how limp, how woeful, how hapless or hopeless the

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  • Hodgson fights back at last

    It is not often that a manager gets off the hook with a 0-0 draw. But Roy Hodgson almost managed it last night.

    This has not been a good week for the Liverpool boss. Already weakened by results, he was widely ridiculed for his comments after his team's defeat in Sunday's Merseyside derby.

    His wholly legitimate attempt to find the positive in woeful defeat just made him look hapless. If, as he said, that was the best Liverpool had played this season, no wonder they are in the relegation zone.

    Then on Wednesday, it was announced that his two allies, the men who had brought him in over the

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