I HAVE reared my head from the muddy pond. Yes, the Dark Duck is back – and with plenty to quack about. The reason for my return from the tranquil waters is due in no small part to the antics of a certain Mr Sven Goran Eriksson, and the response of the F
I HAVE reared my head from the muddy pond. Yes, the Dark Duck is back - and with plenty to quack about.
The reason for my return from the tranquil waters is due in no small part to the antics of a certain Mr Sven Goran Eriksson, and the response of the Football Association.
Here we are, four months away from the start of the World Cup, which is the competition we, as an English sporting public, have all been told is the tournament we can win.
I even predicted as much last year.
I have no disagreement with that now. Gerrard, Lampard, Beckham, Terry, Ferdinand, Rooney and Owen are all players capable of lighting up any stage, and Germany will provide the perfect setting and appreciative audience for the wide range of skill and ability that those gifted English players have at their disposal ... no time difference or climate excuses built in.
But, hang on a minute. Just when everybody should be getting behind Sven and the boys, some national newspapers are full of derisory remarks about the Swede.
Is there not a decent chance that Sven might actually lead the side that wins the World Cup, 40 years since England's only triumph on the world football scene?
If, as is widely predicted, the new England manager will be installed before the tournament begins in Germany, is the FA not making a rod for their own back?
If Eriksson's side are victorious, how many of the Sven detractors (who now seem to be 10 a penny on most radio stations) will speak up and say he should go?
Can't really see too many voicing their opinions then.
The appointment of Sven back in 2001 was an enigma in itself.
He was the first foreigner to coach the English national team and, if you think about what sort of state it was in when Keegan left, he's not done all that bad, in terms of results. Would Keegan have done as well?
England now has an enviable crop of players and, on the whole, Sven tends to pick the right team most of the time ... how many of those touted for the job would fundamentally change the formation or personnel?
While his off-the-field antics continue to frustrate the footballing purists, he is in a results business.
He has qualified in style for three major tournaments and, barring injury, the last of these trio of competitions is one that England will go into with superb confidence.
And, remember, this was the one Eriksson said he had most confidence of winning when he was appointed.
Sven has done a great job on a footballing level. The former Lazio supremo and the FA will go their separate ways after the tournament in Germany, but Eriksson might well leave the job remembered by the nation as the man who truly brought football home.