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Monday, 9 September, 2002, 11:09 GMT 12:09 UK
Little fun for fans
England supporters were left feeling short-changed
England fans were left feeling short-changed

As a Tottenham Hotspur fan I should be accustomed to mediocre matches and meaningless fixtures.

But as a paying customer, England's debacle against Portugal really took the biscuit.

Trudging away from Villa Park I could not help wondering what the point of the fixture had actually been.

As a money-making exercise for the FA it was no doubt a success but as a football fan I felt robbed.

After a better than expected performance at this summer's World Cup, I had begun to believe the hype that Sven really has a world-class squad in his grasp.

I eagerly anticipated a chance to see the boys perform.

And with tickets at less than you would pay to see an average Premiership match, an enticing game against quality of the likes of Rui Costa and Figo, seemed too good a chance to pass up.

With 40,000 packed into Villa Park and the England band in fine form, the stage was set for a top afternoon of football.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
The second half turned just about everybody off

For the first 45-minutes the action on the pitch kept us fans fairly entertained.

Alan Smith looked secure in his step up to senior football and even Emile Heskey managed to stay on his feet!

As England left the field at the break I genuinely felt that Sven's young squad were living up to their reputation.

The atmosphere at the ground was further boosted by the news that Scotland were struggling against the Faroe Islands.

But the second-half saw Sven indulge in his usual substitution fiasco.

Pre-match assurances that we would not see a repeat of the two-team antics that preceded the World Cup, proved groundless as the game quickly turned into a meaningless training exercise.

While Sven may argue that these games offer him a chance to see fresh blood put through their paces, it left us fans wondering whether we are being taken for fools.

I did not pay more than 20 just to see England train!

What does Eriksson aim to learn by mixing up his squad so much?

In the first-half England looked like a decent outfit.

But shaking up the squad only served to break the concentration and England soon looked lost.

England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson takes the lukewarm applause
Sven says thanks for coming

With the Premiership less than a month old and these games being rendered virtually meaningless, I found myself actually sympathizing with Sir Alex Ferguson's tactics of keeping his Manchester United players out of the squad.

Once again it is the fans that are short-changed.

Frustration started to creep in fairly quickly after the break.

The 100 or so Portuguese fans who I had even failed to notice in the first-half soon became the only source of atmosphere.

That was fairly pitiable when you think how up for the game England fans were at the start.

As Portugal finally scored their well-deserved equalizer, the predictable groans around the ground could be heard.

It did not take long for the optimism of a successful Euro 2004 campaign, to quickly descend into the usual disappointment of watching England squander chance after chance.

If Saturday's performance is an indication of things to come, the current crop will struggle to make it to Portugal.

Then, Sven could easily find himself facing the same sort of public reception as his Scotland counterpart Berti Vogts.

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