Jim White

  • Parker heading for an unhappy first

    Well, that's a result. After what it describes as its closest poll in years, the Football Writers' Association has announced that Scott Parker has been voted Footballer of the Year. Apparently he just sneaked past Gareth Bale - already crowned the PFA Player of the Year - on the ballot's finish line.

    Personally, my choice was Nemanja Vidic, on the simple grounds that he has given this year some of the most compelling defensive performances I have seen. But the truth is defenders don't win awards. Organising the back four, chivvying the full backs, putting your foot, head, whatever part of

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  • The week Mourinho jumped the shark

    The question of the moment is this: do we want him here? Jose Mourinho has been making noises all season that he sees his future in the Premier League; it is, he says, his natural home.

    For some time, the suggestion has been that he is ear-marked as Sir Alex Ferguson's successor at Manchester United, whenever it is the great man decides to step down. The only manager with an ego sufficient not to be daunted by such a succession, unlike those who would prefer to wait for someone else to wilt in Ferguson's lingering shadow before taking control, he would have no problem sitting himself in the

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  • United can still click when it counts

    'Manu alone against Man U' is a rough translation of the headline in Germany's biggest-selling paper Bild this morning. And it isn't wrong.

    Last night in the Veltins Arena, Manuel Neuer gave one of the great Champions League performances. Four times the Schalke keeper defied all known laws of both physics and physiology keeping out shots, mainly dispatched by Javier Hernandez. One, in which Mexican's effort had passed underneath him before he unfurled what appeared to be a third hand to scoop the ball back and away, was as good as anything Peter Schmeichel produced in his years of pomp at Old

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  • Manchester City will win the FA Cup

    With Manchester United's players scenting a treble and City's sniffing the beach, there can only be one outcome, they tell me.

    I'm not so certain.

    I had City down to win the FA Cup at the start of
    the season and I'm sticking to that prediction (I had United as Premier
    League champions, too, so I've not gone entirely doolally).

    Here's why: for all the talk of mercenaries and money-bags, players, however well remunerated, are still motivated by medals.

    Even Mario Balotelli would fancy a bauble or two to display alongside his Lamborghinis.

    To win the league requires a level of team

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  • Roman bought the wrong man

    Roman Abramovich stormed out of Old Trafford last night, soon after Ji-Sung Park's goal had taken the home side to their fourth Champions League semi-final in five years. The man with the European obsession had seen his hopes drizzle away once more into the Stretford night. No one wants this competition more than him, yet the fulfilment of his quest looks less plausible by the season.

    On his way back south, the Chelsea owner would have had time to reflect on several things. That his players do not share his  infatuation in the way Manchester United's buy into the victory addiction of their

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  • They’re not paranoid, the world really is out to get them

    As the season reaches its critical point, in addition to worries about injury and loss of form, the main clubs appear united in their sense of persecution: this week the world is clearly out to get them.

    First we had Arsene Wenger complaining that the fixture computer is institutionally biased against Arsenal. Every weekend from now until the end of the season, the Gunners are obliged to kick off after Manchester United. This, Wenger claims, is unfair. It gives significant advantage to the Mancunian side. Every week, Arsenal are required to play catch up, never given the opportunity to set the

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  • Spurs: Why the second leg matters

    Gareth Bale was putting a brave face on things. There was some defiance among the wearied supporters gathering at Madrid airport. Someone even remembered that Real had once lost a two-legged tie after winning the first 5-1. But the fact is, everyone knows it is over: Spurs' Champions League foray is now in the past tense.

    There was no doubt it was going to be hard in the Bernabeu, but none of the optimistic platoons setting forth from North London could have imagined it was going to end up like that. Spurs didn't just lose against Jose Mourinho's team, they were hammered, humiliated, brushed

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  • Too good to go down?

    It was quite a week for Stewart Downing, Darren Bent and Ashley Young. The threesome all gave performances which announced them as the future.

    Downing passed and crossed with authority and aplomb, Bent moved and finished with real sharpness. But it was, in two matches scrutinised in every detail, Young who really shone.

    Unworried by responsibility, he demonstrated a handy amalgam of pace and intelligence which made him look as good a prospect as any around. Watching him run and move with such authority, playing at times like a proper number 10, it comes as no surprise to learn that his

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  • Why Terry can handle the pressure

    Last week Fabio Capello invited a group of journalists to lunch at San Lorenzo. This Knightsbridge restaurant was once the favourite of Princess Diana and Gianluca Vialli (though not necessarily at the same time). But its reputation has diminished since its glory days of the late eighties and early nineties and it is now an eaterie largely ignored.

    So, an Italian that was once a world beater but is these days renowned mainly for being hugely over-priced: why did Capello think that an appropriate venue?

    Although it was his juggling with the captain's armband that made all the headlines after

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  • The recipe for worthwhile friendlies

    At last night's game against Ghana at Wembley, an 80,000-strong crowd experienced something not normally associated with England friendlies: they had fun.

    This was a competitive match, feisty, at times exciting, filled with incident and blessed by a wonderful climax. Asamoah Gyan's brilliant equalising goal and even more vivid celebration will linger long in the memory. And when was the last time anyone could say that about fixtures that had long ago become a byword for pointlessness?

    It might be by default, but last night the FA may have hit on a new format for the friendly. The governing

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