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Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 08:20 GMT 09:20 UK
Eriksson's plan comes together
England team before their 5-1 win against Germany
Brothers in arms: Munich winners are Erikkson's key
From BBC Sport Online chief football writer Phil McNulty in Munich.

England coach Sven Goran Eriksson left Munich with the framework of his potential World Cup team firmly in place.

Eriksson has taken only nine months to fashion a system of play and personnel that looked light years away under Kevin Keegan - who bravely confessed to his own tactical inadequacies and quit.

And on a night of celebration in Munich, one of Eriksson's greatest causes for satisfaction will be how the pieces fell into place in spectacular fashion in the 5-1 win against Germany.

Ashley Cole and Steven Gerrard
Young bucks: Cole (l) and Gerrard
England performed brilliantly, and now boast world class players in midfield and attack.

They also scored a victory of stunning significance that knocked a dent in Germany's morale, their lead in the World Cup group, and their goal difference.

David Seaman will need to show great consistency to keep his place in goal, and showed he still has the capability to do the job with a brilliant first half save from Jorg Bohme.

But he still looked hesitant for Germany's goal and does not inspire complete confidence with the occasional flap.

This is one potential change in the next few months, with Nigel Martyn determined to press his claims.

England's defence also seems settled after the exciting introduction of Arsenal's Ashley Cole at left back, and the joining of the partnership of Sol Campbell and Rio Ferdinand in central defence.

Erikkson's team gels in Munich
Master plan comes together
Cole still has rough edges, as several rash tackles here in Munich proved, but he is an exciting and progressive player who will develop under the watchful eyes of Eriksson at international level and Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

Arsenal's Martin Keown is waiting in the wings if there are mishaps, and Eriksson is a serious admirer of his experience and tenacity.

Nick Barmby is clearly an Eriksson favourite for the difficult left-sided midfield slot, and did himself no harm at all against Germany, confirming the good impression he made with a goal in the Swede's opener against Spain at Villa Park.

The trio of Paul Scholes, David Beckham and Steven Gerrard pick themselves - all world class players.

Gerrard's fitness is the only concern, but there are no doubts about his ability.

He scored a stunning goal, and even had hard-bitten German fans admiring his taunting of Liverpool team-mate but German opponent Dietmar Hamann, when he deliberately went out of his way to beat him twice in a tussle.

Michael Owen in Munich
Owen: Untouchable in attack
After accusing Hamann of squealing like a girl when he tackled him in Euro 2000, their next conversation at Liverpool's Melwood training headquarters will be intriguing - and quite possibly very brief.

Eriksson also has newcomer Owen Hargreaves - almost put on show as a trophy in the latter stages against Germany on his Bayern Munich club turf - and Steve McManaman to call on.

Michael Owen is untouchable in attack, while Liverpool team-mates Emile Heskey and Robbie Fowler both have their admirers.

Heskey is currently the man keeping Fowler out of both club and country action, but the latter is a more than worthy option with Andy Cole also waiting to have his say.

Continuity is occasionally impossible to achieve in international football, but as Eriksson revels in his status as national hero, he may well already know the first eleven men he hopes will accompany him on World Cup duty in next summer's showpiece.


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