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Last Updated: Friday, 6 July 2007, 12:51 GMT 13:51 UK
Sven's re-invention

By Phil McNulty
Chief football writer

Sven-Goran Eriksson
We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith

Gareth Southgate on Sven in 2002

England delivered its verdict on Sven-Goran Eriksson as he left Baden-Baden in a blaze of World Cup apologies a year ago - and it amounted to little more than a resounding raspberry.

Now the 59-year-old Swede has the chance to re-write his personal history as he prepares to take charge at Manchester City.

Eriksson was, and still is, regarded as an expensive failure, a monument to a bloated England era of under-achievement and the Football Association's financial folly.

England's dismal World Cup campaign, culminating in a last eight exit on penalties to Portugal, wrecked many reputations, but Eriksson's most of all.

He is poised to return to English football in the unlikely surroudings of Eastlands - here BBC Sport examines the reasons why so many fans regard Eriksson as damaged goods and what he can do to restore his reputation.


Eriksson was portrayed as the ice-cool Swede when all was going well - but an ineffectual ditherer gripped by inertia when the going got tough.

As Gareth Southgate remarked about Eriksson's performance at half-time in the World Cup quarter-final defeat against Brazil in Japan in 2002: "We were expecting Winston Churchill and instead we got Iain Duncan-Smith."

Too often Eriksson seemed a detached, unemotional figure when passion was called for.

At City, they will not be expecting Eriksson to prowl the touch-line, or jump into the arms of supporters a la Stuart Pearce, but they will soon let him know if they feel he fails to share their passion for the club.

Lurking somewhere inside the Swede is a ruthless edge, as identified by his decision to ignore Manchester United's wishes and play Wayne Rooney at the World Cup.

He will need to be more Winston than IDS at Eastlands.


Eriksson had 4-4-2 in his DNA until an injury to Wayne Rooney exposed a fatal streak of indecision before last summer's World Cup.

Suddenly Eriksson was trying all manner of different formats without ever finding a winning formula. Rooney alongside Michael Owen or Peter Crouch was Plan A - Plan B was nowhere to be seen.

It ended with the sad sight of Rooney playing in an unaccustomed and ill-fitting role as a lone front man against Portugal.

Cue frustration. Cue stamp on Ricardo Carvalho. Cue red card and cue England's World Cup exit.

Eriksson will need to be more flexible in his approach after six years out of club management - but with a reported 50m transfer kitty at his disposal, he has been given every chance to devise more than a single game-plan.

He has proved he can bring success at club level and won Serie A with Lazio after spending lavishly, so there is hope for improvement from City given his massive budget.

Former England manager Graham Taylor said: "He has never managed at club level in this country and, after more than five years on the international scene, he has to get used to the one thing we all missed.

"This is the day-to-day involvement with players, staff, directors, supporters, agents and the media - and not neccessarily in that order."


Or lack of them in Sven's case.

Eriksson never showed the ingenuity to make game-changing substitutions with England, sitting motionless on the sidelines as key games escaped.

The touchline "action" consisted of assistant Steve McClaren waving a notebook and pen as Eriksson stayed rooted to the dug-out.

Too often he was star-struck, relying on David Beckham and Michael Owen when they were clearly short of fitness in Japan five years ago, and falling foul of the same failings in Germany last summer.

Rooney could never have been match-fit, but Eriksson persisted, while Michael Owen was central to all his plans despite virtually six months on the sidelines.

Eriksson's World Cup selection of Walcott was ridiculed
Eriksson's World Cup selection of Walcott was ridiculed

His attraction to star names also ensured he never tackled the problems of an ineffective, unbalanced midfield containing Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Beckham.

It may help City's chances that he is unlikely to be in thrall to superstars at Eastlands, so may revert to the more pragmatic methods that brought him success at Gothenburg, Benfica and Sampdoria before winning the title at Lazio.

To his credit, he championed Owen Hargreaves consistently despite criticism, and was rewarded when Manchester United's new 17m signing had an outstanding World Cup.

Hargreaves was one of the few successes of a squad that was at worst horribly unbalanced, and at best a maverick throw-of-the-dice selection.

Theo Walcott was picked without Eriksson ever seeing him play - a situation that remained unchanged throughout the World Cup, exposing the stupidity of his selection.

City must hope Eriksson has learned the lessons of such folly and uses it to their benefit.


Eriksson said on his appointment as England boss: "We don't want front pages, we want back pages."

Laughable given the Swede's ability to make appearances at the wrong end of the newspaper.

Whether it was dalliances with females, fake sheikhs or other clubs - as in those infamous secret Chelsea talks - Eriksson had a nasty habit of creating the wrong sort of publicity and headlines.

City do not need a public relations disaster on this scale, and surely even Eriksson will know this.

He can rebuild his reputation by keeping his eye on the ball at Eastlands and restricting himself to the more traditional back pages.

If Eriksson simply has the desire to make football news, that will be a step in the right direction to repairing his dented image.


Eriksson, like so many others, has been badly wounded in terms of publicity and reputation by managing England.

Sir Bobby Robson rebuilt his career abroad, Taylor went back to his spiritual home of Watford to enjoy success, while Glenn Hoddle's reputation has never recovered after he was sacked by the FA.

Terry Venables led England to the Euro 96 semi-final, but has since endured a chequered career at club level before returning to the international set-up as Steve McClaren's assistant.

Kevin Keegan steered Manchester City into the Premiership, but was widely accepted to have been seriously hurt by his brief reign with England and it came as no surprise when he eventually walked out.

Eriksson was treated in contemptuous fashion by the media for his footballing and personal escapades - and rightly so in most cases - so he has major rebuilding to work to do ...both at Manchester City and on his reputation.

Taylor says: "If there is anything I am proud of it is that fact that, following an unsuccessful qualification for the 1994 World Cup, I stayed in this country with much of the media on my back to show that it is - and should be - possible to manage at club level again following an international spell."

Eriksson will hope he can follow Taylor's example.

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