Jim White

  • 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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  • Newcastle revel in bizarre renaissance

    I was talking to a Newcastle United supporter yesterday. The interesting thing was — like every other Newcastle fan I have ever met — he did not conform remotely to type.

    Just as all Manchester United fans are said to hail from Godalming and all Leeds followers are dismissed as Neanderthals, the received wisdom about the Geordie faithful is that they have ludicrously ambitious expectations. They are — so the widespread notions go — convinced their club should be winning every trophy in sight and are thus in a constant condition of agitation when they don't.

    The weeping Geordie is almost as big

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  • We all love Mario (except City)

    Mario Balotelli: why always him?

    I think Mario Balotelli is great. He is a huge addition to the public landscape. Apparently on a one-man mission to cheer us all up, everything about him is hilarious, from his Buster Keaton-faced goal celebrations through his choice of t-shirts to his daily scrapes.

    And every "why always me" moment invariably cheers me up. Particularly the revelation that his assignation with the gold-digger who pursued Wayne Rooney was but "a brief encounter". One, presumably, more Boris Becker than Trevor Howard.

    Whatever his apparent abrasiveness, though, I believe he is decent guy at heart. There is

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  • Liverpool must back flawed Dalglish

    Liverpool have provided over the years far more media pundits than any other club. From Jim Beglin and Jan Molby, through Mark Lawrenson to the king of them all, Alan Hansen, ex-Liverpool players stalk the studios and newspaper columns of the land.

    Largely they do not see their role as that of the critic. Products of the legend, they reckon their brief is to promote it. Thus, when one breaks ranks, you take note. John Aldridge's assertion this week that it was embarrassing to be a Liverpool supporter at the moment carried much more weight simply because who it was saying it. Aldridge is not

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  • Chelsea have no chance in Europe

    A couple of intriguing ideas surfaced this week. First was the extraordinary prospect that David Moyes, the man who has made a career from being the outsider, who has long chippily relished the thought that he is unconsidered, unloved and unnoticed, had emerged from under the radar to become established as the nation's favourite.

    After his Everton beat Sunderland to set up a Mersey derby FA Cup semi-final on April 14, suddenly he has been burdened with every neutral's hopes that he finally win a trophy. Especially when in doing so he can put one over on the increasingly unattractive and

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  • Hoddle for England? How has it come to this?

    Fans of Wolves, never mind England, would shudder at the thought of Hoddle's returnGlenn Hoddle has never been quite as sure with words as he was with a football. His syntax is at times as tortured, over-wrought and convoluted as his passes were concise, precise and beautifully executed. And he was in full muddle this week, as he claimed once again that "he never said them things" about the disabled paying for the sins of a previous life.

    In fact, he insisted in an interview in The Independent on Monday, he would never say them things. He would never dream of saying the very words that cost him the England manager's job, the job he has wanted all his life, the job to which

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  • Struggling Spurs on shaky ground

    Here are a couple of statistics that shed fresh light on Tottenham's season. Arsenal — a club pitched deep into apparently terminal crisis but two months ago - have scored five more Premier League goals than they have. In the last 13 league games, Spurs have taken 19 points. Blackburn, seemingly adrift with a manager no one wants and owners everyone hates, have taken 18.

    Oh, and Spurs haven't won at Stamford Bridge since 1990. A win for Chelsea — the club that fired its manager for his failure to deliver an acceptable challenge - in this weekend's cross-town derby would move them to within two

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  • Vieira wrong over Scholes jibe

    Patrick Vieira is one of football's good guys. Intelligent, decent, thoughtful, like many a modern player of African descent, his philanthropic instincts are substantial.

    Sure, he was not averse to administering the odd kick — some less sly than others — during his playing career. But there is no doubt he was the engine of the great Arsenal teams of the noughties. The measure of his significance marked by the failure of the club adequately to replace him.

    In many ways, he is to Arsenal what Paul Scholes is to Manchester United: an embodiment writ large of the club's sense of itself. United too

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