Jim White

  • Ince’s sad goodbye

    Paul Ince has never been the easiest footballer to like. Aggressive, shirty, mouthy: he is not exactly up there with Gianfranco Zola in the popularity stakes. Even so his departure as Blackburn manager should give everyone pause for thought. There was nothing remotely encouraging about it.

    The first thing to be said is that Ince was unlucky. Brad Friedel and David Bentley were on their way before he arrived at Ewood Park and Roque Santa Cruz has spent the autumn apparently preparing himself mentally for a reunion with his former manager at Manchester City. Losing your team's central spine is

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  • Now those are deep pockets

    The advertising copywriters better get a move on: right now reality is way ahead of them. Carlsberg don't do closures of the transfer window but if they did, they would look very much like the one we have just enjoyed.

    What a day it was. Watching things happen on Sky Sports News was like watching the most intense of dramas unfold. Plots twisted and thickened until the point where suddenly a character you had never heard of stepped into the centre of the stage to steal the show.

    Robinho going to Manchester City? No-one, not even the most fervent of bluenosed dreamers could ever envisage that

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  • Bellamy can be City saviour

    Despite his obvious physical attributes, Craig Bellamy was inexplicably over-looked this week when Steven Spielberg announced who he was casting in the lead role of his new movie, Tin Tin. So the Welsh international captain has instead been obliged to concentrate on the day job. Which, being Bellamy, this week changed for the eighth time in a football career best described as complicated.

    There was much mockery (particularly in the stands at Old Trafford) when Manchester City's pursuit of Kaka ended with the signing of Bellamy. As one pundit put it, it is like booking a holiday in Rio and

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  • It’s all gone quiet over here

    It was Alan Hansen who was the first to come out and say it. And with it the man whose analysis of football is second to none demonstrated that even he could get things wrong some times. Two days into Euro 2008, after watching the first four games of the tournament, Hansen declared that England could have won it.

    Normally, such wilfully optimistic assessments require England's participation in a competition. But this time, here was the country's foremost television football pundit installing England as favourites in absentia.

    To be fair his point was a good one. Euro 2008 is so open a

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  • A special victory

    The Champions League final is to be staged in the Olympic stadium in Rome next May. And the good news for Chelsea fans is that they are guaranteed to see their team play there in this year's competition.

    Well, at least once. Phil Scolari's team drew Roma in Group A of the qualifying stages and will head off to the eternal city for what they hope is not the last time in the season on 4 November. In what must be regarded as the easiest draw of any of the English clubs, Chelsea's other two opponents are Bordeaux and Cluj of Romania, a side hailing from the Transylvanian town with the previous

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  • Hail to the chief

    At the end of his first year in charge, Fabio Capello has done many things for the England football team. He has organised them well, given them purpose and direction, won a few World Cup qualifiers. He has managed to give a semblance of order to an outfit that before his appointment looked rudderless and hopeless. Naturally, this has encouraged those who always get a little over-excited the moment England win a game or two into making extravagant claims once again about the possibility of South Africa. Capello though has remained level-headed and refused to stoke up the wild expectations. He

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  • Who do you want in Moscow?

    So who do you want to make it to Moscow? Who would you like to see lining up in the Luzhniki stadium on the night of May 21 as the Champions League anthem plays out across the public address system? Do you crave a chance to witness the north west's ferocious derby being played out in the Russian capital? Or would you like the Spanish influence to be on the pitch rather than in the dug out and Barca to take their swank and swagger out east to play west London's finest?

    For the neutral it is quite a dilemma. One of this week's Champions League semi finals is all about style, grace and

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  • Now, it’s business

    There has been something moral at the heart of Euro 2008. It has been almost like a biblical parable. Those teams who have endeavoured, who have strived, who have attacked and entertained, have prospered.

    The Dutch, the Russians, the Turks, the Portuguese, the Croats: for them boldness has been rewarded. While those who have been stilted and unadventurous - the French, the Greeks, the Swedes - have had just return for their caution and have been quickly dispatched home. Or in the case of Austria and Switzerland, have stayed put. The poor Greeks did not quite put up the worst defence of the

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  • Keane’s Merseyside blues

    If you are looking for the most miserable man in English football right now
    there can only be one candidate.

    Just six months ago, Robbie Keane landed his dream job. A Liverpool fan from
    childhood in Ireland,
    he was thrilled when the club paid Spurs £20 million for him and handed him the
    number seven shirt. As he posed in the very number that had been graced by Kevin
    Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and Peter Beardsley, he looked like the cat who had
    discovered a secret route to the cream store.

    The fans too were thrilled: in the era of the mercenary, when the likes of
    Pascal 'It's all about the money'

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  • No longer singing the Blues

    Here is a statistic that will send a shudder down the spine of every other team in the Premier League, if not Europe. Since they last conceded a goal - at home to Manchester United - Chelsea have scored 13 times without reply.

    That kind of record speaks of a team in purringly good form, a team as proficient up front as they are mean-minded at the back. But then you didn't need statistics to tell you that. A glance at the manner in which they destroyed Middlesbrough over the weekend will suggest that Deco might not be being overly fanciful in his assertion that he is in line to win his third

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