Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sven Has a Great Job ( Owen

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Sven Has a Great Job ( Owen

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Stone

Michael Owen insists the England manager's job remains one of the most prized in football as Sven-GUran Eriksson prepares for a pivotal week in the company of his chastened squad.

England's pride was knocked by last month's 1-0 defeat to Northern Ireland in Belfast. It left Owen, the manager, captain David Beckham and the rest of the squad contrite and vowing to make amends.

Now Eriksson faces two matches which could make or break England's World Cup dream, with wins against Austria and Poland guaranteeing them first place in Group Six.

Owen remains supportive of the Swede, who took England to the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004 quarter-finals.

"If we lose the manager is the first person to get the criticism and if we win the players get the praise," said Owen. "It's tough being a manager but I still the think the England job is a great job.

"With the right guidance, which I know we've got, I'm sure we can do well in Germany but firstly we've got to get there."

Beckham is poised for a key role against Austria this Saturday, returning to Old Trafford where he has consistently done well for England.

There will be no Wayne Rooney at the weekend ( the Manchester United striker is suspended ( but he will return for the Poland match four days later.

Reports that Beckham and Rooney clashed at half-time during the Windsor Park setback have been played down by Owen, who also stressed there was nothing unusual in the pair meeting in Madrid over the weekend.

"I'm sure Wayne was going over to see Real Madrid play and speak to David while he's out there," said Owen."As regards problems between them, I'm sure that's not the case.

"I know both of them quite well. They're not the type of people to have grudges or anything like that.

"Things are said between players all the time ( things can get blown out of proportion ( but there's not been any big arguments between them. …

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