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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 January 2006, 01:24 GMT
Sven's swansong
By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson has paid the price for his indiscretions

The desert storm clouds of Dubai have disappeared - and out of the chaos of Sven-Goran Eriksson's indiscretions with the infamous fake Sheikh comes a favourable outcome for England and the FA.

It was football's worst-kept secret that the Swede was on his way out of Soho Square once the formalities of England's World Cup campaign in Germany were complete.

If England won he would leave in glory. If England lost he would leave with a small measure of gratitude and a large dose of relief.

Now thanks to the England coach's loose-lipped revelations, which have expertly managed to alienate managers and players alike, the FA was presented with the perfect opportunity to bring order to an increasingly chaotic situation.

It was a chance chief executive Brian Barwick did not miss, and for that he deserves huge credit.

Eriksson may have been tricked in Dubai, but he equally naively and stupidly provided one bad headline too many for the FA to tolerate.

The Sheikh saga presented Barwick with the chance to clear the increasingly poisoned air surrounding Eriksson - and clear the decks for a united assault on Germany.

The late-night confirmation that Eriksson's days are now officially numbered was not how he or his FA paymasters may have planned his abdication, but it is clearly the most desirable conclusion.

Eriksson's future will have hung over every moment of preparation for a World Cup England have a genuine chance of winning while the whispers and conjecture continued.

Now the only speculation will be over a successor, and both Eriksson and the FA can concentrate on the job in hand.

The FA may even have been able to knock down the price on his exit ticket in Monday's discussions with his advisers after the latest round of lurid revelations.

Eriksson now only has to survive six more months out of the front page headlines - a task which is surely not beyond even him.

And if he does win the World Cup, all his indiscretions will be excused, if not forgotten.

FA chief executive Brian Barwick
Barwick has finally lost patience with Eriksson

The only question now is whether the knowledge Eriksson is on borrowed time will make him a lame duck manager and reduce the respect he commands among England's squad.

This may be a problem at club level, but presents no serious difficulty for Eriksson and England.

The World Cup is the pinnacle of every England player's career, and it is highly unlikely they will be reflecting on the manager's future - or lack of it - when the serious action starts.

For Eriksson it is an untidy and shambolic end which almost typifies his reign.

It has lurched from great highs of World Cup victories against Germany and Argentina, to the lows of personal scandal and the lingering sense that here is a hired mercenary at work, a man on the lookout for the next big offer.

The FA knew what it was getting when Eriksson arrived, remember he ducked out of an agreement to manage Blackburn when a more attractive offer from Lazio landed on his table, so there can be no complaints.

And let's not forget his reward for shabbily betraying the FA and holding talks with Chelsea was a new and gloriously improved contract.

The background to the announcement of his departure also underscores that Eriksson is a flawed individual who appears able to resist anything except temptation.

The test for him now is purely a football one.

He has questions to answer about his managerial ability at the highest level, having suffered from tactical paralysis in crucial games against Brazil in the 2002 World Cup and Portugal in Euro 2004.

Eriksson has one last chance to put those criticisms to bed. And Monday's missive from Soho Square means he can tackle that task with a clear head and with all speculation removed.

The credits started rolling on Eriksson in Dubai, and the news of his departure concluded the latest messy episode of an England career that will leave behind mixed memories.

It may just be that the FA's decision to draw a line under the Eriksson era could be a force for good as the countdown continues to the kick-off in Germany.




SEE ALSO
FA to begin hunt for England boss
24 Jan 06 |  Football
Exit will help England - Butcher
24 Jan 06 |  Internationals
Reaction to Eriksson's decision
23 Jan 06 |  Football
Eriksson to quit after World Cup
23 Jan 06 |  Football
Silent Eriksson leaves FA meeting
23 Jan 06 |  Football
Eriksson's England era
24 Jan 06 |  Football
Who will fill Sven's shoes?
24 Jan 06 |  Football


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