Jim White

  • Mad Maradona will be back

    The story was as brief as it was predictable: "Former Argentina World Cup-winning captain Diego Maradona has been sacked as coach of United Arab Emirates club Al Wasl," it read.

    And really that was all you needed to know. The man with a legitimate claim to be regarded as the greatest player ever to kick a football has seen his career as a coach once again stall at the lights.

    "The 51-year-old, who agreed a two-year contract with Al Wasl in May 2011, was dismissed following a meeting of the club's board on Tuesday," continued the news copy.

    At least you could say this: 14 months, by Maradona's

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  • Red flags at Arsenal

    In the middle of last season I was at the Emirates to watch Arsenal take on Everton. With the game drifting towards inconsequence, Alex Song lobbed the ball forward into the visitors' penalty area. Running on to it with Rolex timing, Robin van Persie leapt off the ground and, connecting on the volley with his left foot, hammered home the sweetest of winners.

    The response from the home fans to the goal of the season strike was instructive about where Arsenal stand these days. It was a wonder effort, magnificent in its daring and execution. But for many of those who pay their money to watch

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  • AVB: Carry on up the Tottenham

    About six months ago, I mentioned in a report from a Chelsea game that the club's manager Andre Villas-Boas ought to be careful about his choice of attire.

    When Jose Mourinho first stalked Premier League touchlines, his coat quickly became a symbol of his style and panache; in that mac, the belt tightly fastened at the waist, Villas-Boas was forging an altogether less impressive sartorial image. He was in danger of resembling Frank Spencer.

    Almost as soon as the piece was published, into my inbox pinged an email from someone whose email name suggested where they were coming from. Chelsea Till

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  • Who would write off Italy’s chances now?

    Andrea Pirlo and Xavi will be a key battle in the final (Reuters)He's the same age as Danny Welbeck, a year younger than Theo Walcott and Andy Carroll, five years younger than Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young, seven younger than Robin Van Persie: you have to say that Mario Balotelli has some potential.

    His performance yesterday against the Germans was simply breath-taking. And that was just his guerrilla marketing, stripping off his shirt in celebration of his second goal to reveal  the three stripes of Adidas adhered to his rather impressive torso.

    With those two goals of stunning facility, those who have been promoting the Italian as the greatest thing to

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  • Germany win would be good for football

    Germany's Mesut Ozil and Marco Reus (Reuters)The return was muted, and so it should be. England did all right at Euro 2012, as well as could have been expected. It was thus appropriate that they came back home to a nod, a wave of acknowledgement and the odd camera flash rather than a fanfare or a lynch mob. Losing quarter-finalists is where England are likely to end up when, as Alan Shearer puts it with such characteristic punditry precision, they are the sixth- or seventh- or eighth-best team in the world. Or maybe in Europe. Whichever it is, Alan.

    There were, even for the most inveterate pessimist, positives to be taken from their

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  • You can bank on a Germany victory

    The headline on the German newspaper being read by a fan sitting on Gdansk's lovely, Copenhagen-like waterfront, was succinct: "Bye bye Greece we can't rescue you this time," was its rough translation.

    Unlike in Athens, in Gdansk business is booming this morning. Not for the first time the place is over-run with Germans. They have been here before. In fact they once got all proprietorial about this city, renaming it Danzig and building U-boats in its dockyard.

    History is everywhere here: you can take a boat trip along the river and have pointed out the very spot just down the coast where the

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  • England have got us dreaming

    Arise Sir Roy. And Gary Neville CBE.

    OK, we might be getting ahead of ourselves a little here. Italy, Germany and Spain is about as tough a likely route as you could envisage to European triumph. And Italy, Greece, Portugal is not a whole lot easier.

    But at least England have got us dreaming. Which is not something anyone was doing at the last international competition the country was involved in. Back in South Africa in 2010, anyone who witnessed those matches against Algeria and Germany in particular was waking up in the middle of the night at the horror of what we had just seen.

    This time,

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  • Ireland have not let anyone down

    Roy Keane may have been addressing the watching British public back home, but his angry television analysis about Ireland's hammering by Spain quickly ran through the press room in the Gdansk stadium. We could almost see the steam escaping from the ITV box.

    Keane is not a man for kind words. Emollient is not his style. If he sees a dog lying prostrate on the ground, his instinct is always to give it a good kicking (football wise, I mean; he wouldn't do that to Triggs, obviously). And, as is always the case, there was no attempt to sugar the pill as he laid into Ireland's hapless performance,

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  • 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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