Jim White

  • Jumping to conclusions

    Just a week into the new season and already we know what will happen next May: Manchester United's post-Ronaldo hangover will remain monumental, Liverpool will miss Xabi Alonso to the point of distraction, champions Chelsea will just pip the newly invigorated Spurs on the last day of the season, Burnley will achieve unexpected mid-table security and Portsmouth are doomed.

    All of the above conclusions push the art of clairvoyance well beyond its natural scope. Apart from the Portsmouth bit, obviously. And maybe the Chelsea bit.

    That is not to say that after six days of action patterns are not

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  • The real Fabio Capello

    It is the same in the build-up to every England game: the same players are wheeled out and say exactly the same things.

    Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, John Terry and David Beckham are all personable, polite, presentable. They say what they have been led to believe are precisely the right things about commitment and effort and the importance of the crowd.

    They show respect to their opponents. They suggest that the forthcoming fixture is going to be the most important game of their lives and that no-one cares more about the well-being of their country than the 11 men in white shirts. And then

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  • What was he doing?

    It must be an odd household, the Coles. There's Mrs C, her smiley countenance widely revered, a woman anointed by the popular press as a national treasure. Never mind the fact she was once prosecuted for a vicious attack on a lavatory attendant; her radiance, her beauty, her kindness seemingly exude from every pore. She's a love.

    And then there's her husband, if not the most reviled man in Britain then running Sir Fred Goodwin a pretty close second. A man who, when he's not whining about the insulting paucity of a £55,000 a week wage offer, is facing allegations that he showered some sexual

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  • Advantage England

    We are only halfway through. Anything might yet happen; a bad offside call, a defensive blooper, a sudden rediscovery of form could change circumstances in a second. But after this week's first legs of the Champions League first knockout phase it is hard to argue against continuing Premier League ascendancy in the competition.

    Those who backed the semi-finals lining up as they did last season, with Barcelona and three clubs from England, must be feeling almost as smug in their financial future as the former head banker of RBS, sitting pretty on his £650,000 a year pension for life (and we

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  • Where now Rafa?

    Rarely in football has a decision so quickly come back to haunt a football manager. The moment Steven Gerrard hobbled off at Goodison Park after less than a quarter of Wednesday night's FA Cup fourth round replay, clutching at the back of his thigh, Rafa Benitez's decision some 48 hours earlier to sell Robbie Keane back to Spurs was thrust starkly into the spotlight.

    Suddenly here was Liverpool shorn of their principle match-winner and without an adequate alternative. And it wasn't as if no-one saw it coming. When Rafa Benitez comes to write his autobiography, the chapter detailing the

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  • Chelsea will win nothing behaving like this

    At least there is one area where Chelsea Football Club are ahead of the game.

    Currently the average tenure for a manager in English professional football is 15 months. At Stamford Bridge right now, they are running at twice that speed: their latest sacked boss was in charge for less than seven months. It suggests whoever takes over from Luis Felipe Scolari would be wise not to make any plans for a Christmas in London.

    There can be no other business that takes such a reckless attitude to its most important executive position than football. How can 15 months be enough time fully to understand a

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  • Beckham deserves every accolade

    Poor old Jeff Powell. The veteran Daily Mail football writer has ranted himself into a lather about what happened in Seville on Wednesday night, when David Beckham earned his 108th international cap and thus matched Bobby Moore's England record.

    A biographer and friend of the great England skipper, Powell regards it as sacrilege that a player he describes as not being fit to lace Moore's boots should, in the record books at least, be seen as his equal. Powell believes that there is a conspiracy at work here, a financially-motivated plot to promote brand Beckham, to gift a past-it specimen

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  • Liverpool masters of the new order

    After that, who could argue against Premier League domination of Europe once more? That wasn't FC Cluj lying eviscerated on the Anfield turf on Tuesday night. That wasn't some part-timer from Belarus being nut-megged by Steven Gerrard. That wasn't some ingenue centre forward marooned and alone up front, reduced to one feeble effort all night.

    That was Real Madrid, the most storied club on the continent. That, his head hanging in embarrassment at his total failure, was Fabio Cannavaro, World Cup-winning captain and, if not the tallest centre back in world football, possibly the hardest. And

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  • A fond farewell

    After my prediction for Wednesday night's Champions League
    final, I think it might be wise to lay off the futurology for a while. Rarely
    can anyone have misread a sporting occasion as badly as I did that one.
    Manchester United win a war of grind and attrition 2-1? Sorry. That I wasn't
    alone in my faith in Sir Alex Ferguson's men is about my only excuse. Or at
    least that is what I'm telling myself: nobody predicted quite such a hammering
    as United took at the feet of a brilliant Barcelona.

    It reminded me of Ricky Hatton's fight with Floyd Mayweather
    in Las Vegas
    two years ago. That was another

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  • Stuck in a pointless jam

    You have to hope the FA had not ear-marked tonight's game with Andorra as part of their campaign to host the 2018 World Cup.

    Imagine the scene as voting members from FIFA's international committee, having been informed of the new Wembley's magnificent eco credentials, of the way - by dint of a near total absence of parking facilities - fans are obliged to arrive by tube, bus and train, find themselves stuck in London's worst jam in living memory as London's public transport goes into meltdown.

    It is not just the striking underground workers who have done their bit to present England as the

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