Jim White

  • Dour, doughty England may yet thrive

    We imagined it would happen, we understood it was really the only way a limited team could progress, but nonetheless to see it in action in Donetsk momentarily took the breath away. Playing two banks of four defending so deep they needed an aqualung, with one of two forwards doubling as a emergency second full-back, with just one man left isolated and alone up front expected to cling on for all he was worth to any hacked and hoicked clearances that might land in his general vicinity, yes, England had indeed transformed themselves into the Chelsea of the Euros.

    And why not? Somehow, even if

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  • Let’s hope Euro headlines made on the pitch

    All eyes are on the Warsaw pitch for the opening game of Euro 2012Specially for Euro 2012, a new tram stop has been built outside Wroclaw's impressive Municipal Stadium. A symphony in concrete, topped off by an elegant, light sweep of a concrete roof, its clean, uncluttered lines serve as a testament to modernity. Or at least they were clean and uncluttered until some angry vandal with a spray can set about its walls last night. Now the first thing you see as you get off the tram, sprayed ready to welcome the tens of thousands of visitors from Russia and Czech Republic expected to watch this evening's Group A fixture, are the simple words: F*** Euro.

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  • Michel Platini holds up the European Championships trophy in 1984Beginning on Friday in Warsaw we can look forward to a three week jamboree of football. Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands all promise to demonstrate the highest level of skill and flair, football at its finest.

    By the beginning of July someone will have produced a moment to live in the memory, a souvenir to match those postcards from past tournaments like Marco Van Basten's mid-air volley, or Michel Platini's iridescent midfield mastery, or Fernando Torres's nerveless finishing.

    Even England, their back line organised carefully into two unyielding banks of four by their new

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  • Injuries create Roy’s perfect storm

    Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley, Jack Rodwell, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard: that is some useful choice an England manager has of central midfielders. Shame none of them are available to Roy Hodgson. And with Scott Parker still shaking off an Achilles injury, Hodgson resembles a man whose horizons are shrinking daily.

    It has long been the way before tournaments for England bosses. Graham Taylor was on the radio this morning talking about the manner in which his selection choices were narrowed ahead of the European Championship 20 seasons ago. No John Barnes, no Paul Gascoigne and with Mark Bright

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  • Rodgers may rise to the challenge

    After losing down there in their last game of the season, Liverpool appear to have developed something of a Swansea obsession.

    It seems the clever dudes who run Anfield out of Boston have decided to give the job of manager either to Brendan Rodgers, the man who steered the Swans through a successful Premier League survival campaign, or Roberto Martinez, the man who effectively built the side Rodgers so efficiently guided. And to think, at one time Liverpool recruited from the very elite of European football.

    Rodgers is the favourite to sign on the Americans' dotted line. Martinez, despite his

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  • Hodgson hamstrung by foreign influx

    Well, we know what Harry Redknapp would have said had he been appointed England manager and been in charge for tomorrow's friendly against Norway: 'We're down to the bare bones.'

    And Harry would have been right. As rude awakenings go, Roy Hodgson's first game in charge promises to be the equivalent of having a bucket of iced water chucked over your head while anticipating a lazy, hungover lie-in.

    Just three weeks away from his first engagement in Euro 2012 and he is heading into an international faced with the prospect of just four players on the bench and a carthorse masquerading as a centre

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  • What is Solskjaer waiting for?

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed the perfect choice for Aston Villa as their new manager.

    Young, bright, determined, keen to build something and — crucially — with no known association with Birmingham City, he was clearly streets ahead of the other candidates for the job.

    After meeting him last week, the Villa owner Randy Lerner must have thought his problems were over: this is a man as impressive in conversation as he was on a football pitch. Sharp, clever, decisive, he also - as he demonstrated leading Molde to their first ever Norwegian championship in his first season in charge - knows how to

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  • Di Matteo’s last hurrah

    Without doubt, the calmest man in the maelstrom stew of nerves and emotions on the touchline of the Allianz Arena tomorrow night will be Roberto Di Matteo. That slight smile that gives him the appearance of a Bond villain will play across his lips as he walks out with his Chelsea team; enigmatic, inscrutable, unperturbed. Someone really should give him a white cat to stroke as he sits in the dug out.

    It is quite a trick he pulls off given the pressure he must be under. This is Chelsea, the biggest vanity project in football, the vehicle that is supposed to deliver status and meaning to the

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  • The best of a bad bunch?

    In Sweden they must barely be able to contain the laughter. In France, you imagine the footage of John Terry stumbling around the Anfield pitch like a drunk on a wedding dancefloor is playing on a continuous loop on Laurent Blanc's laptop.

    Even Andrei Shevchenko and his Ukraine team-mates must have taken one look at the England squad and thought: well, there's a relief; at least with this lot around we won't be finishing bottom of the group in our own tournament.

    Rarely can there have been a thinner, frailer, less impressive England squad than the one Roy Hodgson announced this lunchtime.

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  • Has success come at a cost for City?

    With the kind of timing publishers must dread, this month sees the release of Colin Shindler's latest memoir.

    The author sold an awful lot of copies of his earlier tale, "Manchester United Ruined My Life", which was released well over a decade ago. It was a book which suggested that, in its rapacious, commercially-driven quest for monopoly, the Old Trafford operation was driving much of the joy out of football.

    As a City supporter, Shindler might be expected to think that. But his tome was nicely argued, fluent and funny and found plenty who agreed with its critique of the rapacious red menace

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