Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lady Luck to Smile on Sven in Search for More Points

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Lady Luck to Smile on Sven in Search for More Points

Article excerpt

Byline: MICHAEL HART

FORTUNE favours the brave, it is said, so it would be churlish to deny Sven-Goran Eriksson the good luck that has blessed his arrival at the helm of the English game.

His decision to accept the Football Association's invitation to become England's first foreign coach and succeed a popular figure like Kevin Keegan required a degree of boldness and a sense of adventure.

The amiable Swede inherited a patently gifted crop of good young players - his first slice of luck - and most of them have avoided serious injury. When England face Greece here tonight in their World Cup qualifying tie he will have selected his team from a fully fit squad of 22.

Such good luck with injuries is something most of his predecessors would have appreciated. "This time we are lucky," he smiled. "It is not always like that for the manager." Even the Finns seemed to be aiding Eriksson's World Cup salvage operation by drawing 2-2 with Germany at the weekend.

The fact that Eriksson is able to field the 10 outfield players who performed so encouragingly in the 4-0 win over Mexico, plus the week devoted to preparation in La Manga, suggests to me that an England win here tonight is almost an inevitability. Eriksson, naturally, has adopted a more cautious stance but, after four straight wins it's hard to ignore the conclusion that a comfortable victory is well within England's capability.

The Greeks need to defeat England for the first time in seven attempts to have any realistic hope of snatching a playoff place from Eriksson's men.

But, despite talk about the passion and hostility of Greek spectators, the locals appear largely indifferent to tonight's match in the 80,000 capacity Olympic Stadium.

Discord, disarray and a sense of fatalism in the Greek squad combined with an ongoing dispute between the national coach Vassilis Daniil and the Greek FA helps explain why less than half the tickets have been sold for the game. …

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