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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:10 am

Jeff Powell says good riddance to money-grabbing Sven Goran Eriksson, the most useless England coach in history.

Good riddance to the game's golden fleecer

By JEFF POWELL, Daily Mail

3rd July 2006

Beckham cries after he is carried off with injury against Portugal knowing his captaincy has come to an end. He is 'so obsessed with himself that when the inevitable humiliation came he cried for himself, not his country'

The most disgracefully unprepared team in England's World Cup history was managed by a money-grabbing charlatan and captained by a narcissist so obsessed with himself that when the inevitable humiliation came he cried for himself, not his country.

No wonder football went home early yesterday.

Sven Goran Eriksson and David Beckham went with it. Both out of office, one to look for the next gargantuan payday, the other to look in the mirror and reflect on how the best chance England may ever have of winning a second World Cup was frittered away as if Germany 2006 were some glorified family holiday.

Eriksson said sorry. Beckham, now here's a surprise, hogged the headlines by renouncing the armband.

The nation, in all its football frenzy, deserved more. So much more.

England came to a standstill five times in three weeks. Unfortunately, so did the team. In return for all their patriotic devotions, a dismayed population have been left with not so much as one solitary performance worth remembering.

Behind the drama of Wayne Rooney's sending-off, the last-gasp defiance which ensued and the ongoing saga of ineptitude at penalties, that was as true of Saturday's leaden efforts against Portugal as it was in their lumbering progress through the softest draw any World Cup could possibly offer.

The millions back home and the thousands who spent their savings travelling to Germany were betrayed by a campaign of stupefying inertia, one which had been doomed before embarkation by Eriksson's ludicrous squad selection, then reduced to the farcical level of a Footballers' Wives soap opera by the outlandish presence of the WAGs.

The public were conned rotten. Too late, they found out that all that glitters is not a golden generation.

While the manager has to carry the Three Lions' share of the blame, England's celebrities in boots are not as wonderful as all the hype had convinced them they were.

'Very likely, given the number of book publishing contracts waiting to be justified, the real stories will soon be told'

Good enough to have played much better here and thereby reach the semi-final by taking advantage of a moderate Portugal team weakened by the loss of its best player, certainly.

But world beaters? Only if they had a manager capable of maximising every ounce of talent by building a team which was greater than the sum of its individual parts.

And that goes to the crux of my disappointment with these players. There were whispers of unrest in the camp, rumours of a mutiny against Eriksson's mismanagement. There is talk of text messages sent to friends and clubmates ridiculing team selection and tactics.

Yet, they still paid lip-service to the lie. They insisted in public that all was well in the mink-lined luxury of the Schloss Hotel in Baden-Baden. They did so solely to preserve their own team places.

If they could not bring themselves to tell it as it was, the least they should have done was kept quiet. Very likely, given the number of book publishing contracts waiting to be justified, the real stories will soon be told.

Too late. They should have done their talking on the pitch, just as the manager should have done his in the dressing room.

Not that England had done anything to deserve Eriksson to begin with. The importing of a trendy foreign coach was the most ill-conceived of the several mistaken appointments of England managers.

One or two of us back then saw what they were getting — a mercenary Swedish lothario — but the Football Association were blind to what was coming.

They walked into five-and-a-half years of embarrassing sexual philandering, of treacherous negotiations with Premiership clubs and fake sheikhs while under contract to our country, of sitting passively on hands while potential victory in the quarter-finals of three major championships slipped through England's fingers.

This is the FA's piffling return on the £25million poured into Eriksson's bank accounts. They had entrusted the golden generation to the golden fleecer.

This is the man who asks us to remember him as honestly doing his best for the motherland of football, a manager who, we are told, never took active charge of a single England training session.

Spare us the bleeding heart apologies.

This is the roundhead who turned cavalier once he had negotiated his fat-cat pay-off, gambling away all England's hopes and dreams by picking as one of only four strikers a kid who had not appeared in the Premiership and whom he had never seen play.

This is the supposed genius who wasted all those friendlies on platoons of substitutes and then ended up experimenting with an untried strategy in the middle of this tournament.

Perhaps, miserably, it is just as well that English football has gone home.

Since, manifestly, the infant Theo Walcott was not ready to come off the bench for even a minute, then England would have been going into a World Cup semi-final against France with only one useable striker, the gangling Peter Crouch, and a gaping hole in their defence left by John Terry's suspension.

Of the two invalid strikers whom Eriksson, in his wisdom, brought with him, Michael Owen was long since back home with all the fit goalscorers who had been left behind, and Rooney had just got himself suspended.

As it was wittily put by one wag — an Irish colleague, not a wife or girlfriend — the question of whether Wayne's foot could take a tackle became whether Ricardo Carvalho's tackle could take Wayne's foot!

That was a kick in the crotch for England, also, and the shoving and swearing which followed are likely to earn Rooney a FIFA reprimand, at the very least, to go with his red card.

But while Crown Prince Wayne's petulance was sadly predictable, there is no hiding place for Eriksson's England behind one of the most exciting young players in the world.

Nor, despite all the hysterical threats of retribution when the Premiership resumes in August, is there any valid excuse to be found in Cristiano Ronaldo's tell-tale mocking of how his Manchester United colleague was wound up to self-destruct.

'This was simply the day in Germany when Eriksson's fabled good fortune ran out'

Both are young. Both made a mistake. Neither should be crucified. Provocation, unfortunately, is part of the game. Just as learning to ignore it is part of growing up.

Portugal were the poorest team in the last eight, just as almost all England's opponents had been in the preceding stages of the championship.

The chances of Big Phil Scolari's team breaking through an England rearguard action of 10 or 11 men without the creativity of suspended playmaker Deco were slight. In fact, the teams might have played for a month without scoring.

Rarely has an England side been so bereft of urgency. Something has to have been chronically wrong with the preparation. It is impossible to believe that they acclimatised for the heat, even though even the youngest football fan knows that the World Cup takes place during the European summer.

So that week in Portugal was just an expensive jolly, then.

Subsequently, they have either trained too hard or not enough. Then there have been all the days off and nights out with the girls. None of the serious World Cup contenders had their families in virtual residence.

Owen Hargreaves worked himself into the ground in Gelsenkirchen's roofed-in sauna but all the talk of gallantry and heroism was grotesquely misplaced on the 90th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when 20,000 British soldiers were killed.

This was simply the day in Germany when Eriksson's fabled good fortune ran out and there was nothing there to take its place.

Eriksson has rivals for the title of worst manager here, along with Argentine bottler Jose Pekerman and even Brazil's one-time World Cup winner Carlos Alberto Parreira, whose failure to mould all that skill into a team put a damper on the giant samba party at their hotel following Saturday night's defeat by France.

Yet, it is hard to think of any other coach here who would have failed to impose a level of discipline which might have restrained Rooney's temper and certainly prevented the WAGs from tailing the dog.

Eriksson's finest hour was calming the chaos which Kevin Keegan left behind and, as a consequence, giving us that euphoric five-goal win over Germany in Munich. That was an eternity ago and since then — gradually at first, faster later — his team have been going backwards.

Now they are all going on holiday. Another vacation after this bus-man's family outing to the World Cup in all its obscene extravagance of private planes, plush hotels, designer shopping and plenty of partying.

As our loyal readers might expect me to suggest, all Sven Goran Eriksson deserves is to go back up his fjord to the land of winter darkness, hammer throwers and sexual promiscuity from whence he came.

PS. In case you were worrying how Sven was going to make ends meet from now on, you'll be relieved to note that his contract with the FA runs until the end of this month, during which period he will earn another £410,000 — and then there's the £1.5million autobiography, coming to a bookshop near you in time for the Christmas rush.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 03, 2006 11:21 am

As our loyal readers might expect me to suggest, all Sven Goran Eriksson deserves is to go back up his fjord to the land of winter darkness, hammer throwers and sexual promiscuity from whence he came.

Wow, I don't know if I should call that racist or what. 8O

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 05, 2006 4:08 pm

wow me thinks the Brits aren't too happy about this.. oh well would have lost too France.. which would have been...

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