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Last Updated: Friday, 23 June 2006, 07:58 GMT 08:58 UK
England's second-half struggles
By Simon Austin


Sven-Goran Eriksson
Eriksson was once lauded for his cool detachment
Poor second-half performances have been as much a trademark of Sven-Goran Eriksson's England reign as tabloid stings and affairs.

And so it was again on Tuesday. After playing well and taking a first-half lead against Sweden, England were transformed into a timid and disorganised team after the break and had to cling on for a draw.

The pattern was all too familiar to England fans, who had seen second-half capitulations against Portugal at Euro 2004 and, most notably, against Brazil in the quarter-finals of the 2002 World Cup.

After that match in Shizuoka, Gareth Southgate famously criticised Eriksson's half-time team talk, saying, "What we needed in there was Churchill, but what we got was Iain Duncan Smith."

So, can we expect Eriksson to inspire the players with fire and passion later in the knock-out stages in Germany?

WHAT THEY SAID ABOUT HALF-TIME AGAINST BRAZIL
I don't remember what was said or how it was said - I think that probably speaks volumes

Danny Mills

What we needed was Churchill - what we got was Iain Duncan Smith

Gareth Southgate

There was no team spirit, no fight, no togetherness... and the manager didn't say a word

Robbie Fowler

I cannot be Winston Churchill in the dressing room - that would not be me

Sven-Goran Eriksson
Not according to former England defender Danny Mills, who played in that 2-1 defeat in Japan and is in Germany as a summariser for BBC radio.

"He'll be exactly the same in every game," Mills told Five Live Sport.

"The trouble is he's very, very quiet. He's a man of very, very few words - you really don't know what he's thinking.

"Going back to what Gareth said in his book, I don't even remember what was said during half-time or how it was said. I think that probably speaks volumes.

"Had it been a rant and rave and a real 'come on lads, let's get going', I think I would have remembered it."

In his autobiography, Robbie Fowler was even more forthright in his criticism of Eriksson's half-time performance in Japan.

"Everything I suspected about Eriksson was shown in that match," Fowler, who made only one substitute appearance under the Swede at the 2002 World Cup, wrote.

"At half-time you could see the faces of our players - they were shell-shocked.

"But it was still only 1-1 and it was time for the manager to get to work, change the tactics and instil some belief.

"He said absolutely nothing, just stood there with a startled look on his face.

"We just rolled over and died. There was no team spirit, no fight, no togetherness. And the manager didn't say a word."

John Terry
Perhaps Terry could rouse his team-mates at half-time?
Yet it seems unfair to criticise Eriksson for the cool detachment which was lauded early in his England career.

Tub thumping has never been the Swede's style and never will be. It wasn't when he took Benfica to the European Cup final in 1990 or when he won the Italian double with Lazio in 2000.

As the Swede himself says: "I have been angry sometimes with England, but I cannot be Winston Churchill in the dressing room. That would not be me."

He insists he does feel pride and emotion, but in his own understated way.

"When I hear the National Anthem, see all the flags, I freeze," he told BBC Sport in April 2004.

"I want the fans to be proud of the team. It's the biggest football job in the world - it's emotional."

Eriksson's predecessor, Kevin Keegan, exhibited the passion and charisma that the Swede is often criticised for lacking, but his short reign was hardly a success.

The problem could be the lack of a vociferous motivator elsewhere within the England set-up.

Eriksson's assistant, Steve McClaren, has a huge influence in the camp - "he used to take all the coaching and all the sessions when I was involved," says Mills - but is not renowned for charisma.

Captain David Beckham is also, obviously, a major figure in the camp, but perhaps not a big presence.

So it could be down to some of the other senior players to provide the rousing call to arms that has been asked for.

Step forward John Terry, Gary Neville and Steven Gerrard?

SEE ALSO
Pick your England team
08 May 06 |  Squad selectors
England team guide
22 May 06 |  England
World Cup schedule
25 May 06 |  Schedule
Have your say on the World Cup
28 Apr 06 |  Football
BBC World Cup coverage
27 Apr 06 |  BBC coverage


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