THOSE WHO opposed the appointment of Sven Goran Eriksson, believing that the coach of the England football team should be made in England, would doubtless disapprove of the entryphone system outside the Football Association's plush headquarters in Soho Square, which reads "siedle-beschriftungsserviche - bitte wenden". The Liechtensteiners who play England this afternoon would feel thoroughly at home standing on the doorstep.
Still, the video footage being shown on a rolling tape in the lobby is emphatically made in England: from Charlie George's idiosyncratic FA Cup final goal celebrations, to Wayne Rooney scoring for Everton against Arsenal at Goodison Park earlier this season.
I am watching Rooney's goal for the fourth time, and frankly looking forward to the fifth and sixth showings, when a secretary disturbs my reverie, to take me upstairs to meet Tord Grip, Eriksson's assistant and eminence grise, the Laurens van der Post to his Prince Charles.
She shows me into a small room, featureless but for three chairs, a table, a large box on the floor and a small, magnetic football pitch fixed to the wall. The box, I notice, has a Fortnum & Mason label, and is addressed to a Mr D Platt of Alderley Edge, Cheshire. But just as I am speculating on what David Platt, for it is surely he, might be receiving from Fortnum & Mason - specialist teas, a brace of partridge, Gentleman's Relish? - in walks a trim, shortish man of 64, wearing a smart blazer and a kindly smile.
First things first; I ask Tord Grip about the match against Liechtenstein.
How on earth will he and Eriksson prepare for a match against a team so manifestly inferior? After all, it must in a sense be easier to send them out against Argentina or Brazil, with everything to gain, rather than against a side with nothing to lose.
"No," he says, "it is no different. We won't change the system just because it is Liechtenstein. We will play the way we have played until now. And we must make sure the players are focused on this game, and not on the Turkey game [next Wednesday]. They will need to concentrate, not to let in silly goals."
Clearly, there are players missing, such as Sol Campbell, who would always feature in a first-choice England XI. But then there is Eriksson's first- choice XI, and there is Grip's, and for that matter there is yours and mine, and they are probably not the same.
"In my head I have the best England XI, yes," he says. "If all the players are fit, yes." Then who, I ask, is in his head alongside Michael Owen? In Eriksson's head it appears to be Emile Heskey, but is Grip similarly enamoured? There is a long pause. "It depends if Michael Owen's partner is in form." Assuming that he is, that they all are? "I can't tell you. I can tell Sven but I don't think I can tell all your readers."
Then let's name some more names. Is David Seaman his first- choice goalkeeper? "When Seaman is fit, I still think he is the best, yes." And might he soon favour young Rooney as Owen's strike partner, if not today or next week, then not too far beyond? "Well, he is a very good player, a modern player, strong with quick feet. But I have seen too little of him. Many times he just plays the last 10 or 15 minutes, and..." - a little self-conscious smile - "we don't always stay those last 10 minutes.
"And we still have to find out his mentality. There are three things a footballer needs: talent, training and attitude. It is no good if one of these things is missing. Because if you don't have the right attitude you will probably miss some training sessions and then, then you are out."
Have he and Eriksson picked anyone who has turned out to lack the right attitude, I ask, knowing of course that he will not identify them. "No, not in the international team. You have to be in a club to see how players change when they have won five games in a row, and then how they react to losing five games in a row. …