Jim White

  • As always, the real winner is FIFA

    Tongues have been oiled, forelocks tugged, the position assumed: in Zurich, the race is almost run to be crowned FIFA's bitch. All across the Swiss city, representatives of various nations are lubing up in their final, frantic efforts to woo those who will decide the destination of the World Cup. It is called lobbying, but the slavish, slavering sycophancy to FIFA's officials is on a par with that more normally found in specialist Soho boudoirs of a kind frequented by high court judges and Max Mosley.

    There's our Prime Minister affording the odiously self-important Sepp Blatter the title Mr

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  • Football hands the keys to the lunatics

    Blimey, times flies in parts of Lancashire.

    On November 26th, Anuradha Desai, the chairman of Venky's, the Indian poultry company that had just taken control of Blackburn Rovers, said of the manager he had just inherited: "We want results and Sam (Allardyce) has taken up the challenge. He deserves a chance."

    All of two weeks later, Mr Desai, commenting on his decision to hand Big Sam a presumably suitably over-sized P45, said: "It has been a long time in our minds. It is nothing against Sam but we have a different vision looking forward and we want the club to grow."

    So Allardyce's chance

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  • Still winning nothing with kids

    Eric Dier is 16, 6' 2", a proper, English centre-back, powerful, good in the air, ferocious in the tackle. Except he can play football too. Never once, he says, can he recall hoofing the ball out of defence.

    To do so, he reckons, would be to betray the whole essence of the game. Pass it: that's how he was brought up. But then Eric plays for Sporting Lisbon. And his views on the difference between the way young players are developed in Portugal and England are telling.

    Dier is a wanted player. Umbro signed him up on a four-year deal recently. Lots of clubs in England have been aware of his

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  • Same old same old in Champions League

    Well, that was all very predictable. Given the strictures and seedings, this was a Champions League draw we could all have come up with without the need for pots or balls or Michel Platini, who is on official business watching Inter in the Club World Cup.

    As expected Manchester United and Chelsea have got away with ties as soft as the competition rules allowed, against Marseille and Copenhagen respectively. In their debut season Spurs will have to replicate their wonderful form against the other lot from the city in order to negotiate their way past the grizzled veterans of Milan. While

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  • A weekend on the merry-go-round

    According to the fevered gossip in the papers it looks as this could be the Premier League's decision weekend, with as many as four managers facing a vote-off in football's very own ex-Factor.

    After a collection of midweek results that largely favoured the man embarking on his 26th year of continued employment by the same outfit, the story is that a quartet of clubs have reached the conclusion that change is the only way forward.

    It seems impossible, for instance, to see Roy Hodgson surviving defeat against Manchester United in the FA Cup on Sunday. Mind, we've been saying it for a while.

    He

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  • 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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