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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 23:38 GMT
Eriksson's failed experiment
Sven-Goran Eriksson watches anxiously at Upton Park
Where now for Sven-Goran Eriksson and England?

Sven-Goran Eriksson must keep his wild experiments to himself in future after Australia gratefully accepted an open invitation to complete a sporting clean sweep against the old enemy.

England coach Eriksson has watched his stock slip alarmingly since the heady heights of World Cup victory against Argentina in Japan.

And the alleged impending job offer from Barcelona may look more attractive by the hour.

A defensive shambles

Captain David Beckham may moan about supporters booing England's young brigade at the final whistle, but in doing so he misses the target in much the same fashion as he did for his 45-minute appearance at Upton Park.

They were venting their spleen on shoddy experienced internationals.

After predictable defeats in cricket and tennis, England fans could at least rely on their footballers - or at least they thought they could.

Eriksson can rightly clutch at the straws offered by the excellent performances of Francis Jeffers, Wayne Rooney and Jermaine Jenas who put their senior colleagues to shame.

But in reality the Swede will face massive criticism after this farce - and quite frankly deserves it.

If this is a signpost for the future of England friendlies, they should be stopped now because inflicting these sorts of wounds on your reputation is unwise.

But flak should also be aimed in the direction of his so-called first choice side, who produced a display plucked straight from the black museum of England performances.

England cruised along in lacklustre fashion, riddled with incompetence and apparent complacency, in contrast to the razor-sharp Socceroos.

Difficult debuts

The Manchester United and Arsenal contingent played in a style that suggested their minds were on the FA Cup fifth round meeting at Old Trafford.

And what of debutant James Beattie, who did not deserve to have his England debut sullied by the desperate efforts of his more illustrious colleagues?

He deserves the utmost pity.

England's defence was a shambles, particularly Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville and Ashley Cole.

Eriksson's next move needs to be more successful than this ill-fated manouevre

The introduction of Rooney was greeted with huge cheers, and he did not disappoint.

Everton's brilliant teenager can hold his head up high, as can Jenas and Jeffers.

They all made a case for further inclusion - but what of the forgotten men of the Eriksson experiment?

Will Scott Parker, Sean Davis and Matthew Upson ever grace an England squad again?

On this evidence, they may not care.

Eriksson needs big wins quickly in the forthcoming Euro 2004 qualifiers against Liechtenstein and Turkey.

It was an ominous signal that the odds on Eriksson not being in his job at the end of this year were cut from to 3-1 to 2-1 as the final whistle blew.

Eriksson's next move needs to be more successful than this ill-fated manouevre.

Otherwise he may be seen in Spain more than Soho Square in the not too distant future.

England v Australia latest

England 1-3 Australia

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