Jim White

  • Cole is out. What now?

    And so it happens again. The curse has struck. After Beckham in 2002 and Rooney in 2006, once more one of England's few world class performers has been compromised by injury ahead of the World Cup. That clash with Landon Donovan at Goodison on Wednesday night could have repercussions all the way to Rustenburg. If Ashley Cole is not around when the World Cup gets underway, England will be shorn of their second most potent performer.

    It is not easy to make a case to praise Cole. His personality usually gets in the way of any eulogy. Uppermost in the mind is the obnoxious snarl, the noisy

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  • Jose’s special performance

    In the press room at Inter's Appiano Gentile training ground this week, Jose Mourinho knew he had a special audience. The English press were in town ahead of his team's game with Chelsea this evening. And instead of the sneers and rolled eyes and sucked-in cheeks he generally elicits from his usual inquisitors among the Italian media contingent, it was high fiving and back slapping and joshing all round.

    Yes, his fan club was in town. And it was clear that the love affair between Mourinho and England has not dulled. But then why should it: the Premier League would be an immensely richer place

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  • The kids aren’t all right

    Amid all the tales of coin-chucking and disrespecting referees, the most depressing piece of football news in a week full of them was that Trevor Brooking is facing the end of his time at the FA.

    Sadly it comes as no surprise. The technical director has been banging his head against a particularly uncomfortable brick wall almost since the day he walked into Soho Square. And this week, the wounds to his forehead have become insurmountable. The poor guy is close to declaring he has had enough.

    In football, as in most businesses, staff come and go. Brooking is a man who will find employment

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  • 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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