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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2006, 11:10 GMT 12:10 UK
England fourth in Fifa rankings
Peter Crouch celebrates his goal for England
Three straight wins have helped England move up to fourth
England have equalled their all-time high of fourth place in the Fifa rankings, underlining Steve McClaren's successful start as England boss.

Post-World Cup victories over Greece, Andorra and Macedonia have led to England leapfrogging world champions Italy, who have slipped to fifth.

McClaren said: "There is still a long way to go. You have done nothing until you win something."

England were last ranked fourth under Glenn Hoddle in December 1997.

Meanwhile, Scotland's promising start to their Euro 2008 qualifying campaign has led to a jump of six places to 34th, while Northern Ireland have moved up 14 places to 58th after their impressive win over Spain.

We won't become a better team or win anything unless we improve on these things

Steve McClaren
Northern Ireland managed to overtake Wales, who have slipped six places to 62nd and the Republic of Ireland are down five to share 43rd place with Iran.

At the top end of the table, France moved up two places to second - behind long-time leaders Brazil, with Argentina still in third.

But McClaren's England have been able to take advantage of Italy's poor form after winning the World Cup to claim the next place.

Holland, Czech Republic, Germany, Portugal and Spain make up the top 10.

Steve McClaren
McClaren believes England's World Cup expectations were too high
The rankings act as a strong endorsement for McClaren, who took over as England boss from Sven Goran Eriksson after the World Cup finals in Germany this summer.

But the former Middlesbrough manager has been quick to play down England's disappointing quarter-final exit, labelling fans' expectations as unrealistic.

"People said we should have done better but, for me, the expectation was too high and we have to get some realism into it," said McClaren, who has claimed three straight wins as England manager.

"The realism is we have got a lot to prove and have got a lot of improving to do. We know we can do better.

"So far in each game there have been things we weren't pleased about. We won't become a better team or win anything unless we improve on these things."

606 VIEW
Kas
Despite Italy's slip to fifth in the rankings, McClaren was full of praise for Marcello Lippi, who stood down as coach of the Italian national side three days after leading them to World Cup glory in July.

He and Lippi are among 72 national coaches in Berlin for a Fifa conference looking back at the World Cup - and the England manager was impressed by the World Cup-winning Italian's presentation.

McClaren said: "Players win tournaments but coaches affect games by tactics and substitutions and Lippi proved to be a master of that.

"In his presentation, he stressed the team ethic and said it was important that France or Italy were both nations who had a point to prove.

"He said the adversity, the (match-fixing) scandal in Italy, had brought the players closer together and that they were stronger as a unit for that, plus the flexibility and adaptability of his players."

England play Macedonia at Old Trafford on 7 October and then face an intimidating trip to Croatia, one of the stronger teams in Group E.


Latest Fifa rankings:

1. Brazil
2. France
3. Argentina
4. England
5. Italy
6. Holland
7. Czech Republic
8. Germany
9. Portugal
10. Spain

Selected others:

34. Scotland
43. Republic of Ireland (shared with Iran)
58. Northern Ireland
62. Wales

The next rankings will be published on 18 October 2006



SEE ALSO
Macedonia 0-1 England
06 Sep 06 |  Internationals
England 5-0 Andorra
02 Sep 06 |  Internationals
England 4-0 Greece
16 Aug 06 |  Internationals
Fifa will revise ranking system
06 Jul 06 |  World Cup 2006


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