Jim White

  • Great time, shame about the football

    Well, that was a final which won't linger long in the memory.

    Three days on and most of us are seeking to forget what happened in Soccer City on Sunday night.

    Spain against Holland was a simply horrible exhibition, proof that if one team sets out to destroy, even the best find it hard to elevate proceedings.

    What the Dutch gave us what not so much total football as non football.

    The thuggery of Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong was a vicious slap in the face of those who gave us the glorious orange.

    No wonder Johan Cruyff sought to distance himself from it. And - never mind his nationality -

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  • Roy’s tough task

    Roy Keane is not a man shy of making a geographical generalisation. While at Sunderland he complained that the town was so distant he was having difficulty attracting players whose WAGs worried about being isolated from the fashionable stores of the West End.

    And now in East Anglia, he is suggesting that his new place of work is rather too pleasant. Nice place Ipswich, he says, lovely lifestyle, plenty of space and fresh air. In fact it's all a bit comfortable for Royston, a bit too bucolic. He reckons for too long the players at the club have reflected their environment and been too easy to

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  • Waiting for Barry

    It appears the most important piece of news for Fabio Capello is the condition of Gareth Barry's ankle.

    Suddenly a man who had a season at Manchester City in which he drifted from the indifferent to the invisible has become the key to England's chances in the World Cup.

    Without the City man's disciplined destruction in front of the back four, the Italian believes his side is horribly vulnerable. Besides, if Barry is absent it will mean having to take Leighton Baines as cover for Ashley Cole, which is surely an accident waiting to happen.

    Barry has become vital and the condition of his ankle is

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  • Only one winner

    How things have changed. Spain, once
    regarded as the serial chokers of world football, a side so averse to the big
    time they made the Leeds team of the 1970s look like the most resolute
    finishers in history, are closing in on the prize with all the lynx-eyed
    resolve of real champions.

    They may have started the competition with
    a defeat, but if they wind it up with a win they will demonstrate the
    fundamental truth of tournament football: it is those who improve who prosper.

    Even as they were losing to Switzerland in
    that first game, however, there was manifold evidence that this was a team

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  • Madrid provide the fireworks yet again

    In Germany,
    they reckon that little gives a man as much pleasure as watching his best friend
    fall off a roof. In Catalonia the sense of humour is slightly different: there,
    the belief is that nothing is as entertaining as observing your worst enemy
    suffer crippling calamity.

    On
    Wednesday night, the fireworks were lighting up the Barcelona sky from the
    moment Miralem Pjanic equalised for Lyon in the 75th minute of the Champions
    League tie against Real Madrid. And once it became clear that Real were out,
    beaten in the last sixteen round for the fifth year in succession, this time by
    a side

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  • How to kill English football in one move

    Had he been around the American Midwest in the pioneering
    days of the nineteenth century, Bolton's
    chairman Phil Gartside would have no doubt appointed himself commander of any
    wagon trains heading towards the Californian gold rush.

    At the first hint of a problem - a wheel nut working loose,
    a horse going lame, a passenger eating a few too many beans for breakfast - he
    would have had the wagons quickly formed in a circle, the better to repel any
    attackers real or imagined.

    Next week Gartside is to propose to his fellow Premier
    League club owners that they develop a new method for their

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  • It’s Ronaldo United must keep

    On Sunday night, Carlos Tevez preferred to stay at home to comfort his young daughter who had a temperature rather than attend Manchester United's player of the year celebrations (a prize won by Nemanja Vidic).

    Coupled with his body language as he left the pitch during United's final home game of the season against Arsenal, the Argentine's absence has led many to assume that he is heading for pastures new. After two years at Old Trafford he will be taking his entourage of advisers, interpreters and owners elsewhere, thus ending one of the most convoluted and contorted episodes of player

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  • The light dims on Keano

    Following Saturday's 4-1 home defeat by Bolton, Roy Keane said this in the post-match press conference: "I ask myself every single day if I am the right man for Sunderland. I asked myself this morning and I said that I was. Tomorrow morning if the answer's no we will have to look at it. I have to be honest in my assessment. It's not about what's best for Roy Keane. It's Sunderland Football Club. I might wake up on Monday morning and think I'm the right man. On Tuesday it might be different."

    Clearly by Thursday it was very different. After, presumably, assessing his suitability in the mirror

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  • Barcelona remain the team to beat

    The intrigues, the twists, the plotlines are seemingly endless. The draw for the last 16 of this year's Champions League has thrown up all sorts of narratives.

    There's Jose Mourinho renewing his rivalry with the man he is favourite one day to replace, Sir Alex Ferguson.

    As the two most decorated clubs left in the competition - Real Madrid and Liverpool - meet, Rafa Benitez will go back to the club where he was nurtured as both a player and more to the point a coach.

    Claudio Ranieri returns to Chelsea with Juventus, a place where his last serious act as manager was guiding the club to the

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  • Chelsea’s African problem

    Last night Didier Drogba showed what an asset he is to Chelsea. Currently the second best centre-forward in the world after Fernando Torres, he was magnificent away at Atletico Madrid, personally securing Chelsea's qualification to the knock-out stage of the Champions League with two typically robust, muscular goals.

    It was apt pay-back for the suspension he earned himself with his comedy performance after last season's semi-final. And it was a reminder to every Chelsea supporter - not to mention their manager Carlo Ancelotti - of what they will miss come the middle of January.

    The final

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