Jim White

  • UEFA set course for Clasico final

    Is a Barcelona-Real Madrid final inevitable?Those balls must have been nice and warm in UEFA headquarters this morning, hot enough to keep the entire town of Nyon toasty in the glow.

    For the blazers, the draw for the Champions League latter stages could not have come out better. We are set for the course that the competition's organisers wanted all along: Madrid versus Barcelona in the final in Munich on May 16, La Liga in the ascendant, El Clasico exported to Bavaria. Sure, there is a way to go yet. But already the full beam gleam in the marketeers' eyes is sufficient to dazzle all oncoming traffic.

    Jose against Pep, Cristiano against

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  • Where would Everton be without Moyes?

    David Moyes has managed well above Everton's means for a decadeIt wasn't the greatest way to mark an anniversary. Ten years in charge at Everton and David Moyes saw his team shredded in the game that matters most to his constituents. Losing 3-0 at Anfield to a Liverpool struggling for cohesion and points, a home derby hat-trick secured by one of the men in red for the first time since Fred Howe did it in 1935, the Kop giving sarcastic rendition of "10 more years": the facts did not point to a riotous celebration.

    Moreover, some Evertonians were left scratching their heads as to why Royston Drenthe and Nikica Jelavic, two attacking players in real form,

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  • Athletic’s blueprint for beating United

    Dave Woods, commentating on Channel 5 got it spot on: Old Trafford, he said, used to be a fortress on European nights, now it has become a gift shop. For the third time this season, Manchester United were embarrassed at home in Europe.

    And the trio doing the damage to them have not come from the continental elite. It is not Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern giving Alex Ferguson's team the runaround while their fans out-sing the locals in the stands. It has been Basel, Ajax and last night the quite excellent Athletic Club.

    How did this happen? How did a club that has been in three of the last

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  • Lack of depth stops Arsenal hitting heights

    Arsene Wenger looks anguished as Arsenal fight in vain against AC MilanWhen the ball landed at Robin van Persie's feet a yard from goal and with the Milan keeper lying prone on the turf, suddenly at the Emirates last night the impossible seemed about to happen.

    This was Robin van Persie we are talking about here, the man who has kept the enterprise alive for much of this dark season, the player whose goals have been at times the one spark of optimism, the forward who, as his magnificent penalty in the first half demonstrated, simply does not miss. Four-nil down from the first leg, the most improbable comeback in the club's stellar history appeared about to be

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  • FA delay not helping Harry

    If, as everyone seems to think it will, the FA is bound to appoint Harry Redknapp as the next England manager, you wonder why it hasn't done so already. It is, so we are led to believe, an open secret he wants the job.

    He is far and away the best-qualified Englishman for it. So why not get on with it and stop faffing? Give him the job and bring a bit of continuity to bear on things. After all, there is a major competition coming up in but three months' time. It might not be a bad idea to give the man in charge a bit of time to prepare.

    Unless, of course, the FA has different ideas. Maybe it is

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  • Pearce’s passion won’t solve deeper problems

    There won't be a shortage of pride this evening at Wembley. Leading out the England team as coach, Stuart Pearce will almost be bursting with patriotism and fervour.

    A man of uncomplicated approach and passion, for him this will undoubtedly be the highlight of his career; if he makes it through the national anthem without spontaneously combusting, he will be doing well. Never mind that it is likely to be just a one-off, a stand-in, before, in the intriguing syntax of the FA's Adrian Bevington, the next man is knee-jerked in, Pearce will savour his moment like few before him.

    And a good thing

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  • Psycho not ready for England role

    By an odd quirk, after they had both been largely messed up by previous expensive, high-profile incumbents, England's two most significant international teams are under the temporary control of blokes called Stuart.

    Though a shared Christian name is where any similarity between Stuart Lancaster, in charge of England's rugby side through the Six Nations, and Stuart Pearce, keeping the seat warm for the pointless football friendly next week against Holland, ends.

    Lancaster, those in the know will tell you, is a man who should have the job permanently. A reasonable but not elevated player, he has

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  • Bravery set to backfire on AVB

    It was, according to Graeme Souness, speaking ahead of last night's Champions League game in Naples, the shortest suicide note in football history. Just 11 words long, consisting of the names on Andre Villas-Boas's team sheet.

    It certainly looked a touch on the odd side, the Chelsea manager's selection. Why, for instance, would you pick Raul Meireles ahead of Michael Essien? And even if he were carrying an injury, why would you put Ashley Cole on the bench and play Jose Bosingwa instead? Frankly, Cole with one of his legs cut off would be a better option than Bosingwa.

    And surely, given that

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  • Arsenal going nowhere fast

    Robin van Persie and Aaron Ramsey shell-shocked at San SiroThat was without question the most chastening week of Arsene Wenger's tenure at Arsenal. There have been low-points before — eight of them at Old Trafford for instance. But what the drubbing in Milan told us about where his Arsenal now sit in the wider scheme of things was not pleasant. This was the week when the rot was finally exposed.

    This, remember, was his proper back four on display in the San Siro, back together for the first time in four months. He had said that the most important transfer window for him was the one in the physio's room, the one that would allow him to pick his best

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  • Will Tevez be the new Rodney Marsh?

    Carlos Tevez - pulled himself off the Man City bench

    The news that Paul Scholes is to be offered a new contract by Manchester United, giving him at least another season at the club, will have come as no surprise to anyone who has seen him play since his unexpected comeback last month.

    His passing, his control, his vision have been astonishing. As has been his ability, after almost nine months away from the fray, immediately to absorb himself back into the action. His manager is right: where else could he have found instant quality like that in the January transfer window?

    Indeed, observing his performance against Liverpool on Saturday must have

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