Anorak News | The Impossible Job

The Impossible Job

by | 9th, September 2002

‘YOU can’t win as England manager, as Sven Goran Eriksson is quickly finding out.

”I guess I’ll have to go on next”

Accused by the Press of not trying out different players, you are then vilified for turning friendly matches into farces by your liberal use of substitutions. No wonder they call it the impossible job.

The Mail leads the campaign against the Swede after the 1-1 draw with Portugal, accusing him of scoring an own goal in his battle with Premiership managers.

”Managers calling for meaningless matches to be scrapped,” it says, ”were given more ammunition at Villa Park in a match against Portugal in which 40 players were used.”

Most it must be said by Portugal, but Eriksson did make a total of seven substitutions and see his side turn in a second-rate second-half display.

But, as Eriksson says in his own defence, if he can’t have a look at different players in friendly matches, when can he?

And one player who made sure that his first start for England on Saturday afternoon should be the first of many was Alan Smith.

The Leeds striker scored England’s only goal and turned in an accomplished performance that was not lost on Eriksson or on the watching sports hacks.

In the Star, Brian Woolnough urges Eriksson to pick Smith for the first European Championship qualifying game against Slovakia next month.

”Smith looked every inch a future England star,” he writes. ”Confident, direct, he held the ball impressively, passed well, dropped back and scored what Eriksson called a ‘beautiful goal’.”

One would have thought the emergence of Smith was justification enough of Eriksson’s approach, but the FA does not agree.

The Express says FA bosses will confront the England coach over what they see is a broken promise not to use so many substitutes in friendly matches this season.

Certainly, the fans have reason to feel short-changed, but Eriksson does not set ticket prices. Surely, the way forward is not to charge so much to get in rather than to hamstring the coach.

England’s fourth and final Test against India is also heading for a draw, although fans cannot really complain about being shortchanged after watching some brilliant batting, from Michael Vaughan and Rahul Dravid.

The pair are the two leading run-scorers in world cricket in 2002, but it is the Englishman who gets the plaudits in this morning’s paper.

”Vaughan’s running riot,” says the Mirror back page – focusing on the Yorkshireman’s attempt to become the first Englishman to score five Test centuries in a season.

He resumes at the Oval this morning on 47 not out – and history beckons.

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