Football: Swiss knives out for King Jorge

Clive White on the turbulent build-up to today's game for England's opponents
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Two years ago Artur Jorge underwent surgery for a brain tumour. "You look at life differently after something like that," said the Swiss coach. "Everything becomes positive." Such an attitude, should it be instilled in his players, could have serious repercussions for England on this momentous day.

Not that Switzerland's recent form under the tutelage of Roy Hodgson's successor bears much evidence of positive thought. Indeed the Portuguese coach brings his contentious selection into this game with the cries of "Jorge out, Hodgson in" still ringing in his ears after the 2-1 defeat by the Czech Republic in Basle last Saturday left Swiss supporters not a little disillusioned with their new full-time appointment. One win in four games? Hodgson could have done better even running the side from his new Internazionale office, Jorge's detractors reckon.

If the writing is on the wall for Jorge-boy, all the more reason then to give it all he has got today. After all, he owes it to himself to get one back on Venables who, when coach of Barcelona, knocked Jorge's Porto out of the European Cup on their way to the 1986 final. Rumour - substantiated yesterday by striker Stephane Chapuisat (if you can believe him) - has it that Jorge will deploy three strikers today, thereby throwing into chaos England's freshly-laid plans of playing with just three at the back.

Looking at ease amid the rich furnishings of their country manor-house headquarters, Chapuisat conceded that they had that option with players of the quality of Kubilay Turkyilmaz, Marco Grassi and, modesty forbid, himself. Jorge, however, was coy about their ability to dictate to England. A multi-linguist with a degree in philosophy, he said: "It's a very difficult match for Switzerland. We are not the favourites and it's important that we know it."

No one would dispute Chapuisat's assertion that attack is Switzerland's strongest suit, particularly now that this Borussia Dortmund striker has apparently recovered his fitness after a cruciate ligament injury, and perhaps Jorge, renowned as a defensive coach at Paris St-Germain, really has had a change of heart since his illness. Their attacking strength might have been stronger still had Jorge selected two more of his country's many German-based players: the prolific Adrian Knup, who scored in the 3-1 defeat at Wembley six months ago, and midfielder Alain Sutter.

The surprise omission of two of "King" Roy's favourites left Jorge open to further criticism that he was attempting to placate the multi-racial Swiss Federation with a polyglot of players from the various regions of the country. Jorge is contemptuous of such claims. "I don't know any coach who makes political decisions," he said, his copious moustache bristling with indignation. "Similarly, I don't choose players by their reputation but by their performance. Two players didn't come because in my opinion they had a very bad season. I frequently went to Germany just to watch Knup but I only ever saw him warming up. He rarely played. You cannot compare him with Chapuisat, who I think can be important for us."

For his part, Chapuisat still appears to be pining for Hodgson. "Six months with Artur Jorge isn't very long," he said. "We used to like to work with Roy Hodgson and a lot of people weren't pleased at the FA's decision."

It is also a much younger squad than that which acquitted itself so creditably at USA 94. Sebastien Jeanneret is one of the younger element. The 22-year- old from Neuchatel Xamax has just one cap to his name, and yet could find himself deputising for the suspended Marc Hottiger, of Everton.

Comments