Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

1970s Throwback Night Sees Sven Escaping Intact

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

1970s Throwback Night Sees Sven Escaping Intact

Article excerpt


IT SEEMS that Sven-Goran Eriksson has cornered the market in silver linings.

Storm clouds were gathering menacingly over the greyhaired coach, until Michael Owen lifted the gloom with a typical piece of opportunism.

Eriksson's 22-match reign has been blessed with a fair share of good fortune and Lady Luck didn't desert the Swedish charmer on a difficult, grey weekend in Bratislava.

But for a while it was as if all the elements were conspiring against him.

The rain, the pitch, the hooligans - and what the weather woman might say.

And when England went a goal down on a sodden pitch you wondered whether you were witnessing the beginning of the end of another brief and unhappy tilt at one of football's most exacting jobs.

Eriksson maintained an icecool public face throughout a weekend that would have tested the patience of a saint.

He'd be the first to admit that he's no saint. But he had good reason to offer a few prayers of thanksgiving on arrival in Southampton for Wednesday's European Championship qualifier with Macedonia.

He should be grateful, for instance, that his team showed their spirit and willingness to accept tactical change. A goal down in dreadful conditions, his halftime team talk and change of strategy were cornerstones in England's 2-1 win over Slovakia.

Almost as important for Eriksson was the realisation that the kiss-and-tell memoirs of his former girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson were unlikely to cause the Football Association any serious worries. He kissed, she told, and unless extra-time holds any surprises, I suspect this episode will be quietly consigned to footnote status.

In the past, the kiss-and-tell revelations of England coaches' wives - I'm thinking here of Lady Ramsey, Mrs Elsie Revie or Mrs Lucy Greenwood - would have been confined to knitting, grandchildren and the rising price of sherry.

But while Eriksson's private life underlines society's current obsession with celebrities, much surrounding England's torturous win mirrored football in the seventies.

Hooliganism returned with a bang. …

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