Jim White

  • How Manchester United might line up in opening match

    Louis Van Gaal sauntered into Old Trafford with the demeanour of a man who felt he belonged. He had been, he insisted, the manager of the number one club in the Netherlands, of the number one club in Spain, of the number one club in Germany. It was surely inevitable that he would end up in charge of the number one club in England. There was really only one question his appearance insisted that needed to be asked about his appointment to become manager of Manchester United: what took you so long?

    It was a bold, ambitious, optimistic attitude he embraced, a quantum leap from his nervous,

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  • Where have all the good defenders gone?

    That was a World Cup memorable for many things. The colour, the noise, the copious public weeping. The brilliance of the Germans, the sparkling promise of the Colombians, the wholly unprecedented collapse of the hosts.

    The defiance of Tim Howard, the blistering pace of Arjen Robben, the comical self-destruction of Pepe. Adrian Chiles’s knees, Rio Ferdinand’s complicated blazer and tie combination, Glenn Hoddle’s continuing difficulties with the English language. Not to forget the boost to the importance of maintaining good dental health that was so conspicuously supplied by Luis Suarez.

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  • Messi and only Messi can stop Germany winning the World Cup

    Just before the World Cup started I was at a function at the Argentine embassy in London, talking about the country’s long established sporting rivalry with England. Or at least that was advertised as the subject that Ossie Ardiles, Ricky Villa and at least one far less qualified observer were supposed to be addressing.

    But it soon became evident from the questions asked by the large crowd of Argentine expats gathered in the magnificent Belgravia mansion that houses the embassy that rivalry with England was of no more than passing interest. What worried them far more was Germany. In

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  • Brazil gambled on World Cup glory – and lost it all

    The most extraordinary thing about the most extraordinary night in Belo Horizonte was hearing the Brazilian fans at the end of the game issuing a series of oles to mark yet another sequence of German passes.

    As the brilliant Khedira, Mueller, Schweinsteiger and Kroos toyed with the home team they were applauded to the skies by locals who know good football when they see it. And, to their immense disappointment, they were seeing it expressed with such facility not by their own players, but by the opposition.

    [RIP BRAZIL: THE NIGHT FOOTBALL CHANGED FOREVER]

    No one was expecting this. No one

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  • That’s it then: no work is going to be done after 5 o’clock today. No office will be occupied, every social event compromised, cinemas and theatres empty. Because this evening promises to offer up the best football entertainment in years, potentially up to five solid hours of mesmerising skill, application and endeavour, together with more plotlines than a Hollywood blockbuster. France versus Germany, followed by Brazil against Colombia: who needs a barbecue when that lot is going on?

    For the Germans, every match at this World Cup seems to come with a subplot of revenge. Not on their part,

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  • It was a horrible, painful end of the World Cup for Mexico in the steaming heat of Fortaleza on Sunday. It was cruel indeed for Miguel Herrera’s disciplined, determined, progressive side to be dispatched by two such late, late goals. They had played an exemplary game in conditions which – according to the local measure of such things – were hotter than Gisele.

    But one thing is certain: they have not been cheated of the chance to progress. The penalty which saw them eliminated was neither the result of a pan-European refereeing conspiracy nor of subterfuge. It was just a penalty. One of those

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  • The apologism must stop: Luis Suarez needs help

    Watching Luis Suarez’s assault on Giorgio Chiellini again (and it is hard to avoid it here in Brazil, the local television is playing it on an almost continuous loop) what strikes me is how weird it is.

    As moral equivalence seems to be the prevailing requirement when dealing with anything to do with the striker, it has to be said he is not endangering the Italian’s life. His toothy intervention is not remotely threatening to the player’s future career. He is not attempting to break his leg or tear the ligaments on his knee. He is just biting him. Yet this is a 27-year-old man biting a fellow

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  • Forget your false hopes: This is failure at its most abject

    It is the hope that hurts. At least until 6:45 on Friday evening, England are still in the World Cup, clinging on by the thinnest of mathematical threads, their fingernails thrust deep into the window ledge.

    The fact that no team has ever before in the competition’s history qualified for the knock out having lost their first two group stage matches does not stop the pathetic seed of hope being planted in our collective mind. Until rejection is official, there is a chance, we tell ourselves. Knowing it is the most meaningless of platitudes.

    So it is that we will, against all our natural

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  • The Uruguay weaknesses England can expose

    It is possible England could lose tomorrow against Uruguay and remain with a chance of qualification. As long as Costa Rica lose to Italy in Recife on Friday it is mathematically possible to go down to the South Americans and not yet be eliminated. But the reality is England need to win. In order to keep the permutations in their own hands, in order for potential qualification to be something more than fanciful, they need to gain three points. Even one is not enough.

    And frankly, after seeing Uruguay falter against Costa Rica, any other result than a victory would constitute unnecessary

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  • Expect Milner, not Sterling, to start against Italy

    At least the pitch is looking nice and green. The groundsman at Manaus, faced with a playing surface that looked as if someone had assaulted it with a blow torch, got out his paint brush and applied a thick coating of green emulsion. Let’s just hope Roy Hodgson has packed some paint stripper, as his players are going to end up with green feet come the end of the game.

    But then, as Wayne Rooney said, it is not as if Italy will be playing on a different pitch. Both teams will be facing the same conditions. Both teams will be in temperatures more akin to a bread oven, running around in a sauna,

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