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Bullish Eriksson Kicks Arse

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Eriksson gives both barrels to England critics

 

Daniel Taylor in Baden-Baden

Thursday June 29, 2006

The Guardian

 

 

For someone who says he dislikes being compared to Luiz Felipe Scolari, Sven-Goran Eriksson could be found doing a reasonable impersonation of the Portugal coach yesterday as he set about tackling the criticisms that have accompanied England's progress to the World Cup quarter-finals. It was Eriksson's most trenchant defence of his tactics to date, culminating in one put-down straight from the Scolari manual. "Don't tell me I don't know what to do," he said. "I know exactly what to do."

 

England's head coach had begun by declaring he "couldn't care less" if his methods were under intense scrutiny but it quickly became clear he was exasperated by the disparagement that has fixed itself to England's campaign. Eriksson has revealed a sensitive edge in this tournament that has not always been apparent and at one point he broke off to point out that Scolari would have "thrown everyone out" if faced by a similar line of interrogation. He described himself as "tense" and, behind that fixed smile, there was a steely message for his detractors.

 

"Listen, we are going to try to play as well as we can," he said. "I'm sure, too, that we are going to be better against Portugal on Saturday. You always try to play good football but what's absolutely the most important thing is to win the football game. They don't give you a premium here for playing beautiful football.

 

"Ghana have played wonderful football. Ivory Coast have played wonderful football. Holland and Spain, the same. If I had to pick one team, on Tuesday afternoon it would have been Spain. But where are they? Tell me, where are these four teams now? At home, that's where. And we are here. I'm not frustrated. I'm actually rather satisfied. OK, we can play better but, to win the World Cup, I'm prepared to do whatever. And if that means playing bad football then [clenching his fist], come on, who cares?"

 

The question is whether England have an obligation to concoct something more illuminating or whether the players deserve greater credit for having reached this stage. Eriksson does not believe they have been dealt with fairly and in his understated way he made no effort to hide his irritation when it was put to him that game-by-game experimenting indicated a man with no clear plan.

 

"I don't agree with that at all," he replied. "Really, I don't know what I should answer to that. If we had only one system you would ask, 'Where is the Plan B?' If we have two systems you say, 'We don't know which way to play'. How do you expect me to answer that? We have a clear vision and we know exactly what we are doing. What do you think we do - tell the players to go out and just say, 'Good luck, do what you want to do?' If what we say is right or wrong, that's another thing. But, to us, it's clear. Every minute we are together it's absolutely clear."

 

Was it not strange, he was asked, to shift Owen Hargreaves to right-back against Ecuador after he had excelled as a holding midfielder in the Sweden game? "But there's a reason why we do these things," he countered. "He can play right-back and he did so very well. The reason why we put Michael Carrick into midfield was that they [Ecuador] had two central midfielders, not three. They didn't have a playmaker like Figo or Deco."

 

Hargreaves, he explained, was switched because there was no longer a requirement for a player to sit in front of defence. "We look at our opponents and all their games, we look at our own performances on video, we analyse everything," said Eriksson. "Of course there's a plan."

 

Gary Neville's return from injury meant Hargreaves returned to a five-man midfield in training yesterday. The players also took part in a mock penalty shoot-out and David Beckham and Frank Lampard were the only two to beat Paul Robinson on three successive occasions.

 

Robinson's vulnerability has been noted by Portugal but Eriksson shrugged when informed that the striker Pauleta had made provocative remarks. "That's mind games and I'm not interested in mind games. Paul has my full confidence, absolutely. I'm not concerned about him at all."

 

There were also some consoling words for the out-of form Lampard. "I think he's been unlucky, and that's it. He's had a lot of shots - 22, I think ... that's not bad. It will come. It's not a big issue for me."

 

Eriksson, however, confessed nerves were starting to get to him. "This is a World Cup quarter-final and who knows if I will get another one? I won't get nervous until I arrive at the stadium. Then I will be tense. You arrive 1½ hours early and there's nothing to do. You can't speak to the players for an hour. So you sit there drinking tea. It's a long time. It doesn't drive me mad but it's a long time."

 

Fair play to him for finally standing up to the press. He should have been doing this right the way through his time as England boss.

 

And he's right about the Plan A/B thing. He's been ripped to bits for only having a Plan A in the past, now he's using 4-5-1 and people are saying it's desperation. I can see the argument to an extent because we've barely used it in friendlies, but still.

 

Anyway, I'm just pleased to see him have a go back when the press lay into him.

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I don't know why he bothered. It has already been decided, if England win, it's all down the the players, if they go out it's all Sven's fault.

 

The fact that many of the squad have woefully underperformed thus far (or maybe just been shown up for how good they REALLY are) is totally overlooked.

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What do you think we do - tell the players to go out and just say, 'Good luck, do what you want to do?'

 

Bit harsh on Souness tbh.

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What do you think we do - tell the players to go out and just say, 'Good luck, do what you want to do?'

 

Bit harsh on Souness tbh.

154531[/snapback]

 

:D:D

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I don't think the media's problem has been that he hasn't got a plan B from game to game, just that within a game when plan A goes tits up he never seems to get it right in the heat of the moment.

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The problem is that not one player has performed as well for England as they do for their club.

 

Is that because it's hot? Sorry, you're not going to get a more favorable climate for a World Cup than Northern Europe.

 

Is that because they've had a tiring season? Sorry, the World Cup is always going to be in the summer after the domestic season.

 

Is it because of the coaching they are receiving? I would say so.

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The problem is that not one player has performed as well for England as they do for their club.

 

Is that because it's hot? Sorry, you're not going to get a more favorable climate for a World Cup than Northern Europe.

 

Is that because they've had a tiring season? Sorry, the World Cup is always going to be in the summer after the domestic season.

 

Is it because of the coaching they are receiving? I would say so.

154833[/snapback]

 

And perhaps the standard of opposition

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And perhaps the standard of opposition

154836[/snapback]

Sorry, you're always going to play the best sides in a World Cup finals.

 

(And we were uninspired against Paraguay and T&T. And I doubt that Equador are better than a mid-table Premiership team).

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The problem is that not one player has performed as well for England as they do for their club.

 

Is that because it's hot? Sorry, you're not going to get a more favorable climate for a World Cup than Northern Europe.

 

Is that because they've had a tiring season? Sorry, the World Cup is always going to be in the summer after the domestic season.

 

Is it because of the coaching they are receiving? I would say so.

154833[/snapback]

 

 

Now I cant see how it can be Sven's fault that all of a sudden Frank Lampard couldnt score in a brothel with 500 quid sticking out of his shirt pocket. And if Fat frank had stuck a couple away the perception of the team would be completely different.

 

I also think its funny that whenever a foreigner signs everybody says wait till it gets a bit cold then we will see how good he is, but English players cant possibly be expected to play when its hot

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