Jim White

  • Michel Platini holds up the European Championships trophy in 1984Beginning on Friday in Warsaw we can look forward to a three week jamboree of football. Spain, France, Italy, Germany and the Netherlands all promise to demonstrate the highest level of skill and flair, football at its finest.

    By the beginning of July someone will have produced a moment to live in the memory, a souvenir to match those postcards from past tournaments like Marco Van Basten's mid-air volley, or Michel Platini's iridescent midfield mastery, or Fernando Torres's nerveless finishing.

    Even England, their back line organised carefully into two unyielding banks of four by their new

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  • Injuries create Roy’s perfect storm

    Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverley, Jack Rodwell, Gareth Barry, Frank Lampard: that is some useful choice an England manager has of central midfielders. Shame none of them are available to Roy Hodgson. And with Scott Parker still shaking off an Achilles injury, Hodgson resembles a man whose horizons are shrinking daily.

    It has long been the way before tournaments for England bosses. Graham Taylor was on the radio this morning talking about the manner in which his selection choices were narrowed ahead of the European Championship 20 seasons ago. No John Barnes, no Paul Gascoigne and with Mark Bright

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  • Rodgers may rise to the challenge

    After losing down there in their last game of the season, Liverpool appear to have developed something of a Swansea obsession.

    It seems the clever dudes who run Anfield out of Boston have decided to give the job of manager either to Brendan Rodgers, the man who steered the Swans through a successful Premier League survival campaign, or Roberto Martinez, the man who effectively built the side Rodgers so efficiently guided. And to think, at one time Liverpool recruited from the very elite of European football.

    Rodgers is the favourite to sign on the Americans' dotted line. Martinez, despite his

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  • Hodgson hamstrung by foreign influx

    Well, we know what Harry Redknapp would have said had he been appointed England manager and been in charge for tomorrow's friendly against Norway: 'We're down to the bare bones.'

    And Harry would have been right. As rude awakenings go, Roy Hodgson's first game in charge promises to be the equivalent of having a bucket of iced water chucked over your head while anticipating a lazy, hungover lie-in.

    Just three weeks away from his first engagement in Euro 2012 and he is heading into an international faced with the prospect of just four players on the bench and a carthorse masquerading as a centre

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  • What is Solskjaer waiting for?

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer seemed the perfect choice for Aston Villa as their new manager.

    Young, bright, determined, keen to build something and — crucially — with no known association with Birmingham City, he was clearly streets ahead of the other candidates for the job.

    After meeting him last week, the Villa owner Randy Lerner must have thought his problems were over: this is a man as impressive in conversation as he was on a football pitch. Sharp, clever, decisive, he also - as he demonstrated leading Molde to their first ever Norwegian championship in his first season in charge - knows how to

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  • Di Matteo’s last hurrah

    Without doubt, the calmest man in the maelstrom stew of nerves and emotions on the touchline of the Allianz Arena tomorrow night will be Roberto Di Matteo. That slight smile that gives him the appearance of a Bond villain will play across his lips as he walks out with his Chelsea team; enigmatic, inscrutable, unperturbed. Someone really should give him a white cat to stroke as he sits in the dug out.

    It is quite a trick he pulls off given the pressure he must be under. This is Chelsea, the biggest vanity project in football, the vehicle that is supposed to deliver status and meaning to the

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  • The best of a bad bunch?

    In Sweden they must barely be able to contain the laughter. In France, you imagine the footage of John Terry stumbling around the Anfield pitch like a drunk on a wedding dancefloor is playing on a continuous loop on Laurent Blanc's laptop.

    Even Andrei Shevchenko and his Ukraine team-mates must have taken one look at the England squad and thought: well, there's a relief; at least with this lot around we won't be finishing bottom of the group in our own tournament.

    Rarely can there have been a thinner, frailer, less impressive England squad than the one Roy Hodgson announced this lunchtime.

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  • Big weeks ahead for pass masters

    Owen CoyleRecently, I had the chance to interview Owen Coyle. So I asked the pretty obvious question: you may talk about trying to play an aesthetically-pleasing passing game, but doesn't the reality of staring relegation in the face compel a manager to throw such niceties out the window and yell at his players to chuck it in the mixer?

    "Where we are now, I don't think that is conducive to getting us points," was Coyle's reply. "As much as we realise it's the business end of the season, if you believe in your philosophy - believe that is the way to progress - then now is the time to stick with that.

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  • Experience is Chelsea’s only hope

    Andriy Shevchenko put it pretty succinctly: tonight is the game that could turn our perceptions of the sort of season Chelsea have had on their head. The Ukrainian, who hardly set west London alight during his two years at Stamford Bridge, was showing journalists round the facilities in Kiev ahead of Euro 2012.

    And once questions about the scarcity of hotel accommodation in Donetsk had been dealt with ("everybody is ringing me, not for spare tickets, but if I have spare rooms," he said) thoughts turned to his old club's chances against the world's greatest team tonight.

    Unlike Gary Neville,

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  • Only Van Persie spoils Scholes party

    Robin van Persie

    In London the Ken and Boris show enters its final furlong, awash with candidate's tears and mutual accusations of tax dodging.

    So close is the vote likely to be for the next mayor, pundits are loath to make a prediction as to which of the two self-dramatists will be there in July welcoming the world to London for the Olympics. And, in the process, making the world think Britain must be a very odd place indeed if it elects someone like that to a position of authority.

    But in the poll that really matters all bets are off. This is the easiest result to call this side of a North Korean election.

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