BRA 3 CIV 1: Anyone for Svennis?

EVERYWHERE you look at this World Cup, there are teams in crisis, with managers on the verge of meltdown. And amid all this, Sven carries on unperturbed, as Sven always does.

I’m sure that if an asteroid hit the earth, the last words we would hear from Sven before we all turned to ash would be: “Welllllllla, this is very unfortunate.”

(Most British football managers in a similar situation would, of course, say: “You can’t legislate for things like that.”)

Sven’s career has taken an increasingly baffling series of left turns since he led England to the glory of two successive World Cup quarter-finals. (Oh, what the nation would give now…) First Mexico, then Notts County, now the Ivory Coast.

Who knows where next? He doesn’t strike me as being daft enough to go on I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here (though you can bet he’s been asked), but I wouldn’t rule out an appearance on Countdown.

The adventure with Ivory Coast, which only began in March, will end after the World Cup. For Sven, that end could come as soon as Friday after last night’s defeat against Brazil in Johannesburg. (The outcome of today’s match between Portugal and North Korea will go a long way to telling us more on that front.)

Even so, Sven could still be in the competition for longer than England. That would possibly cause him some amusement, not that he would ever say so publicly.

He’s charming, is Sven. He bears his setbacks with grace and humility. Those characteristics won him back a lot of respect in England during his year in charge of Manchester City under Thaksin Shinawatra’s ownership.

When he completed the press conference for what – it had become clear – would be his final competitive game in charge of City, away at Middlesbrough, the journalists present gave him a round of applause. It’s not the sort of behaviour that journalists commonly exhibit.

Eriksson might have appreciated the irony that his World Cup hopes were damaged last night by one of the players he signed for City.

Elano was brilliant for about three months after Eriksson brought him in from Shakhtar Donetsk in 2007. Then he suffered an injury on international duty with Brazil and found the rigours of the Premier League caught up with him. (Sure, he was inconsistent. On the other hand, he was arguably the most reliable penalty taker City have ever had.)

Now playing his club football in Turkey with Galatasaray, Elano had a mixed night against Eriksson. He scored Brazil’s third after Luis Fabiano had grabbed two, but then had to be helped off after an appalling tackle by Cheike Tiote, one that could easily have broken his leg.

There was a sour element to his match. Luis Fabiano handled the ball in the build-up to his second goal (“It was involuntary,” he claimed. “They got a free goal,” said Eriksson) while team-mate Kaka fell victim to the tournament’s most unjust red card to date.

His collision with Abdelkader Keite was innocuous. That the Ivory Coast man fell to the ground clutching his face when the (minimal) impact had been in his chest was disgraceful.

As the game ended in niggly manner, Sven watched on, betraying little emotion, keeping his head while other international managers are losing theirs. It doesn’t mean he’ll succeed. It just means he won’t spontaneously combust.

On the subject of which, it’s time to assess the mood in the France camp.


2 Responses to BRA 3 CIV 1: Anyone for Svennis?

  1. Far from “winning back respect”, it would appear that in the mainstream of football and among many fans, Sven-Goran has always been appreciated for the dignity with which he has ignored the worst hype and duplicity from what appears to be a minority within the public and press?
    Remember the facts?
    England raised from the football wilderness to a high point of FIFA No.4 world ranking.
    England only losing five competitive games during Sven’s tenure.
    TheFA acclaiming Eriksson as statistically England’s most successful coach after Sir Alf Ramsey.
    Oh.., and the “small” matter of the massive “Save Our Sven” campaigns by Official England fan organisations and Man City management and supporters that followed the announcements that he was “leaving” those jobs….
    Eriksson has consistantly been lionised by the world sports media and constantly pursued by countless national teams and top league clubs., and independent polls have indicated high 80% approval ratings among the general public and soccer fans.
    Only a minority within the media and those who have actually believed the disingenuous and dishonestly exaggerated hype appear to ignore the truth about the man some international journalists have described as “among the greatest football gurus of all time”.
    Eriksson’s record with England is increasingly highlighted and put in perspective by the dismal results of the far lesser coaches who have followed him?
    The basis of the Sven bashing?
    Overpaid? Many premier league club managers were paid far more.
    Unfaithful? The real headlines should have been “Batchelor England manager a magnet for beautiful women and plays the field a bit”? But that’s not “news” let alone a “scandal”. Married American presidents, UK PMs and MPs and members of the British royal family have behaved in a far more scandelous way without incurrying the bully boy and shameful attention directed at S-G E!
    Disloyal? The “fake Sheik” incident was more a scandalous and shameful for those who engineered it and the actual transcripts reveal no commitment to the phoney job offer or disloyalty to TheFA OR his squad members who have continued to make only appreciative comments regarding their time under his management.

  2. mikewhalley says:

    I always thought a major reason for Sven getting a rough ride (unjustly) as England boss was that he wasn’t Terry Venables – who had been the choice of a number of influential newspaper columnists when Kevin Keegan left.

    Good to hear you’re still going strong anyway, Derek. Are you not out in South Africa?

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