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Tuesday, 25 June, 2002, 14:13 GMT 15:13 UK
Fortune favours the brave
Sven-Goran Eriksson with partner Nancy Dell Olio
Eriksson showed himself to be tactically conservative

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While former England coach Glenn Hoddle turned to Eileen Drewery for motivational advice, Sven-Goran Eriksson's motivational mentor is a Norwegian sports psychologist.

Dr Willi Railo, just as with Tord Grip, has been a key figure in the development of the successful Swedish coach.

Open Quote
Eriksson will have to add some wit and invention to the solidity and resolve
Close Quote
Former England defender Tony Adams

It was Railo who spoke to several English players before the thrilling win over Argentina, convincing them that victory was possible over Marcelo Biesla's highly-rated side.

The Norwegian's message to the players was that winners hate to lose, but that they are not afraid of losing.

And to win they must be prepared to dare to fail.

What a shame then that Eriksson himself failed to take on board the Railo mantra.

Because the most disappointing feature of England's World Cup exit was that it came with a whimper rather than a bang.

Compare Eriksson's caution to that of South Korean coach Guus Hiddink's gung-ho approach when the time came to go for broke.

Whereas Hiddink threw on five forwards to rescue the game against Italy, Eriksson's tactical substitutions against Brazil showed the Swede's innate tactical caution.

Open Quote
It is impossible for England to have left the tournament with their heads held high
Close Quote
South Korean coach Guus Hiddink

He failed to dare, opting to tinker rather than take the radical steps necessary that would have at least seen England go out in a blaze of glory.

Kieron Dyer replaced Trevor Sinclair soon after Ronaldinho's goal and then with just over 10 minutes to go, on came Darius Vassell and Teddy Sheringham.

But with Brazil down to 10-men after Ronaldinho's expulsion surely Eriksson should have gone for the jugular and thrown on Joe Cole and much earlier than the last 10 minutes.

England's nemesis - Ronaldinho
Eriksson failed to exploit Ronaldinho's dismissal

Hiddink has said this tactical conservatism is a common feature of European football coaches.

"All the European teams who have gone out played too defensive, like they were scared," he told the Sun newspaper.

"I thought England were the worst.

"It is impossible for them to have left the tournament with their heads held high.

"Their frontman Emile Heskey was the best English defender. He was always standing 18 metres from his own goalkeeper.

"Even when they were 2-1 behind against Brazil they did not do it.

"It would not be my way to be kicked out the tournament like that.

"They have ignored their footballing culture. It is terrible to see England play football like that."

Eriksson has spent most of his highly-successful coaching career in Italy - with Roma, Sampdoria and Lazio - and it shows.

You only had to see Italy's psychological incapacity to go on the attack once they had taken the lead against South Korea to get a taste of the stifling environment Eriksson has spent so much of his life working in.

Eriksson has plenty to think about
Eriksson has spent most of coaching career in Italy

Wonderfully organised and defensively solid, Serie A clubs and the Azzurri are difficult to beat but when the course of a game calls for innovation and intuition Italian players look like rabbits caught in the glare of car headlights.

A bit like Eriksson and England.

Like Hiddink, former England international defender Tony Adams has also raised his concerns over Eriksson's tactical conservatism.

"If England are to progress and realise the potential of this group, then Eriksson will have to add some wit and invention to the solidity and resolve," the Arsenal defender told the Observer newspaper.

"His teams in club football show him to be a cautious leader. But the game has moved on from over-caution in recent years."

Eriksson's confidence and calmness has proved a wonderful elixir for the England team.

But just as his players need to learn from this World Cup, so does he.


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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