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Monday, April 30, 2007

The rehabilitation of Sven

Fascinating to read a sympathetic and factually correct account of former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson in the Sunday Times.

Far from being the money grabbing, woman-chasing idiot he has been made out to be by the rotweilers of the sporting tabloid press, he came across as thoughtful, considerate and likeable. A man who talks to his elderly parents (who live nearby) everyday. Who, far from taking any fee paying public speaking opportunity available, actually did more non fee paying appearances. Who, instead of fleecing the FA for every penny even when he stopped working as England coach, agreed to take £2.25m instead of the £6m he was entitled to.

Most significantly, Sven was, without doubt, the most successful England coach of the modern era. Played 38, won 26, lost % was 7.9. Let's compare that with Alf Ramsey, shall we, because let's face it, we only ever talk about 1966. Played 33. won 20, lost % 21.2.

Sven was utterly vilified by the UK press, most of it zenophobic because a foreigner had the audacity to manage the England team. Well, not many candidates would accept the post. What I find galling is that the vitriol was largely based on lies.

The problem is that England should have a good national team. Look at the number of international players who choose to play here. But the reality is different. Expectations are far too high. The pysche of England is inextricably wrapped up with the success of the football team. Was it Sven's fault that some of the highest paid footballers in the world bottled out and missed penalties? It wasn't the first time this has happened.

Most significantly in the article, after the disasterous defeat at the hands of Portugal, Eriksson begged the UK press not to "finish off" Rooney (sent off)or the idiots who missed the penalities. He asked to be vilified because he wouldn't be needed again.

Proof again that here was an honorable man, mistreated by the press and public at large.

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