Jim White

  • Hull making history

    The usual convention when describing a disastrous sporting collapse is to invoke the memory of Devon Loch, the unfortunate nag owned by the Queen Mother which, leading by a mile on the home straight of the 1956 Grand National, jumped a phantom fence and lay there, legs akimbo as the rest of the field galloped past.

    This season, however, we have been gifted a new image. In years to come we will be able to talk of football clubs 'doing a Hull City' and immediately everyone will know exactly what we mean.

    Back at the end of December, Hull appeared to have cracked this Premier League lark.

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  • Real winner in battle of King’s knee

    As an illustration of the huge divide at the top of our national game, nothing serves better than the war of words over the condition of Ledley King's fitness.

    The 'battle of King's knee', the verbal scrap over whether his battered, bruised and, in places, non-existent cartilage should be prioritised for national or local service demonstrated that when it came to joining in the chorus, club and country are not only singing from different hymn sheets, they are in a completely different church.

    Admittedly it is not always the case, but it is hard not to have a bit of sympathy with Harry

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  • Benitez is right out of luck

    Never mind a stray black cat, the luck he is having Rafa Benitez must have run down an entire cattery on his way to work at Melwood. As if losing to a comedy blow-up goal was not enough to make him think the world was conspiring against him, last night's game against Lyon would surely have had him considering a lifetime membership of the Paranoid Society (mission statement: "You talkin' to me?").

    Already without the substantial presence of Fernando Torres for a vital Champions League game against Lyon, he lost Glen Johnson in the warm up and - worse - Steven Gerrard, the player he would most

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  • Sven’s comedy turn

    If you are one of the boundary-pushing million to have signed up for internet coverage of England's game in Ukraine, and assuming you have a broadband connection sufficiently substantial to cope with buffering and disconnects, and assuming you haven't been unplugged by aggrieved junior members of the family anxious to get back to poking their friends, then you are in for an unexpected treat. Sven-Goran Eriksson has been signed up to offer half-time critique to the internet few on the national team's performance.

    It is an interesting bit of casting, giving a man who fundamentally messed up

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  • Chelsea’s window slams in their face

    It is not just the Croatian FA who are feeling a little paranoid this week. Richard Scudamore, chief executive of the Premier League, must have started to worry that the world and its footballing authorities really are out to get his member teams.

    First Arsenal's Eduardo is banned for two games by UEFA after diving to win a penalty in the Champions League tie against Celtic. Then - and much more seriously - Chelsea have been prevented by Fifa from making any foray whatsoever into the transfer market until January 2011.

    Their crime? Illegally poaching a young French winger who has yet to play

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  • This time he really is off

    Well, that hardly came as a surprise did it?

    Except for the size of the fee, it had been an open secret around Old Trafford that a deal had been struck last summer that Cristiano Ronaldo could leave this year for Real Madrid, so long as he hung on for another season, thus saving United's face. This after all, is a club that, in 22 years of Alex Ferguson's tenure has never let go a player they didn't want to leave.

    Also, back then, Ferguson had been convinced that within a year he could persuade the player to stay in Manchester, that his future lay with a club at the height of its powers.

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  • Harry’s strain

    It has been an intriguing week for Old Trafford's second string. Last week, they lost at home to Besiktas in the Champions League in a display that led one observer to suggest that Alex Ferguson's cupboard is currently bare of any decent youthful prospects.

    A week on and much the same bunch of players beat a full-strength Tottenham side in the Carling Cup and find themselves widely lauded as the hottest collection of youngsters since the class of '93. From the kids are all sh*te to the kids are all right in just seven days is a spectacular change of circumstance even in a world viewed through

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  • Robinho’s time is up

    Just as England arrive in Doha to play Brazil in a game Sir Alex Ferguson can hardly wait to watch, Manchester City are heading round the Gulf for a touch of Middle Eastern sun this week.

    They have a series of engagements in Abu Dhabi, where they are being feted by their new owners, paraded like a collection of prize show dogs.

    Mark Hughes has taken those not involved in international matches (unfortunately that does not include Wayne Bridge) plus those long on the injured list to do a bit of flesh pressing and to evangelise about the Eastlands revolution. Oh, and to play in a friendly.

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  • The hype starts here

    Well, that really couldn't have gone any better from England's point
    of view. As Terry Venables suggested, you would have to work very hard at
    topping up your pessimism levels to suggest that England did anything other than
    rather nicely out of the World Cup draw.

    After all the speculation, after all the fears about France
    or Portugal or Ivory Coast, after the gloomy prognostications of participating
    in a group of death, Fabio Capello will instead be obliged to marshal his men
    against the USA, Slovenia and Algeria. Furthermore, with the exception of the
    opening game in Rustenburg, both the

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  • Who’s your money on?

    At Anfield on Tuesday night, one of the Liverpool fans had turned all Mystic Meg on us. He was sporting round his neck a rather fetching scarf, half of which was red, the other half blue. Across it was printed the legend "Champions League Final, May 21st 2008, Moscow, Liverpool v Barcelona."

    He is probably the only person in Britain right now who is convinced about the make-up of the concluding game in the European club calendar. Following the first legs of the closest set of Champions League semi finals in many a year, can we really, with any certainty, suggest who will be there? After all

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