Jim White

  • Justice is done

    In the end the best team won it. No under-achievement this time. No bottling a major tournament. No self-destructive internal politics. Spain had the best collection of players by far at the Euros, played the best football and deserved to win it. No-one else came close. In fact if they hadn't, we should have been initiating an inquiry into the biggest injustice perpetrated in international sport.

    But there was more to Spain's victory than simply the best team winning it. Anyone who believes in football can but concur the right team won it. They played the game as it should be played, the

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  • Here comes the Big Man

    It is a quirk of fate that had the good folk who run the FA been a little sharper on their feet, a little shrewder in their manoeuvrings, a little more aware of the niceties of international football recruitment, Luiz Felipe Scolari would not have been revealed as the new manager of Chelsea this week. He would instead have been in charge of England, looking forward to leading his team to the latter stages of Euro 2008, perhaps even to winning it.

    England's loss is Chelsea's gain. The London club have succeeded where the national association so manifestly failed: they have prised a real

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  • How are your fingernails?

    After that there is only one question: do you have any nails left? Manchester United and Chelsea emerged this week from the most gut-wrenchingly tense Champions League semi finals to meet each other in Moscow on 21 May. And if anyone does have anything remaining at the end of their fingers after watching them progress then Nasa would like to hear from you: your body is clearly made of tough stuff.

    Following the cagey, give-nothing-away first legs, the two second legs burst into pulsating life. At Old Trafford, Manchester United staged the finest exhibition of defensive play in the club's long

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  • All on the length of a stud

    Unlike Manchester United's last appearance in the Champions League final, this time round there was to be no last minute intervention by the substitutes, no wholly unexpected conclusion of business in normal time. Instead, at the end of a sinew-sapping season, as the two super powers of the Premier League pushed each other to the very edge of exhaustion in magnificent, determined pursuit of the prize they craved, it all came down to penalties.

    What a twist: the first all-English Champions League final decided by the one footballing skill at which the English have never found much renown. And

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  • Keane’s Merseyside blues

    If you are looking for the most miserable man in English football right now
    there can only be one candidate.

    Just six months ago, Robbie Keane landed his dream job. A Liverpool fan from
    childhood in Ireland,
    he was thrilled when the club paid Spurs £20 million for him and handed him the
    number seven shirt. As he posed in the very number that had been graced by Kevin
    Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Peter Beardsley, he looked like the cat who had
    discovered a secret route to the cream store.

    The fans too were thrilled: in the era of the mercenary, when the likes of
    Pascal 'It's all about the money'

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  • The longest summer

    Coming back after two weeks holiday it appears that nothing has changed. Manchester United are still insisting Cristiano Ronaldo is going nowhere even as the player himself is preparing to pack his bags for the first available flight to Madrid.

    Frank Lampard is still a Chelsea player, though nobody thinks that will last too long. And Gareth Barry is still heading to Anfield any day now. Seriously, any day now he will go. It is, according to Aston Villa's manager Martin O'Neill, finally a matter between the player, his agent, Liverpool and Aston Villa. Which makes you wonder, if that is a

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  • Hughes’s big day

    One thing you can be sure of at Sunday's Manchester derby at Old Trafford, the visiting manager will be greeted by the home fans with a huge ovation. Mark Hughes has returned to Manchester United several times before and on every occasion the cheers have threatened to lift the roof off the place.

    Sold to Barcelona at the low point of Big Ron Atkinson's increasingly chaotic reign at the club, the young Welsh forward was one of the first signings Alex Ferguson made.

    Ferguson always knew how to get the crowd on side and buying back that lost hero in 1988 was a sharp move. Hughes's return was

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  • It’s Spain’s to lose now…

    There was much relief round our way when Spain refused to succumb to the omens. The coverage on the BBC of their quarter final against Italy made much of the fact that the Spaniards had lost three penalty shoot-outs - in the World Cup of 1986, Euro '96 and the 2002 World Cup - all on June 22.

    The certainty was that Sunday would be the fourth nightmare on the 22nd. The Beeb had even prepared a little filmed package, full of foreboding and doom-laden mood music. If anyone thought it a little extravagant to spend the time editing up a package only useable in the event of penalties, then clearly

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  • It’s all in the draw

    Even from a distance of several thousand miles, the Champions League holds sway. In California, Ruud Gullit, manager of the LA Galaxy and Feel Football Champion has been watching the tournament pan out with fascination. Last week, he watched the semi-finals, convinced that there is a pattern to them, which has been firming up over the past few years.
    "I think the best four teams left were there anyway, so that was good," he says. "But for me, what was very obvious was that it says again how much of an importance it is if you play first away and then at home, because Liverpool in the previous

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  • Phew, what a scorcher

    There was much mockery (some of it possibly emanating from this blog) before a ball was kicked in Euro 2008 about the television schedules. Without a home nation in contention, the chortling went, how amusing will it be for executives to have to shift ratings-bankers like soaps and light entertainment in order to accommodate matches no-one will want to watch? The game that was used as a prime example was the Czech Republic against Turkey. Tee hee, we all sniggered, you can imagine the fans of Coronation Street being delighted to see their favourite fix shunted to find room for that. No-one,

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