Eriksson let down by lack of talent – on and off pitch

Notts County 1 Burton Albion 1: Swede left unimpressed by offerings on the field and in the Notts County stands as pressure grows on manager Ian McParland. Phil Shaw reports

Sven Goran Eriksson may have been fooled by a fake sheikh, but the former England manager's fabled roving eye was never likely to be tricked into believing the two stubbly cross-dressers in the Notts County players' lounge after the 1-1 draw with Burton Albion were of the opposite sex.

Kitted out in short skirts, high heels, padded bras and lipstick, the daring duo were not, as one fellow spectator in the Derek Pavis Stand mischievously suggested, Ulrika Jonsson and Faria Alam, but the avowedly heterosexual footballers Rob Purdie, of Oldham Athletic, and father-of-two Neil Austin, from Hartlepool United.

Having been invited by County's Ricky Ravenhill to watch him play in the Football League's newest derby, they had decided, for the hell of it, to spring a sartorial surprise on their old Darlington team-mate – and try to get a snap taken with the Swedish schmoozer for good measure.

Eriksson has been director of football at the ambitious League Two outfit for barely seven weeks, so it is a little early, perhaps, to question whether their union is the real deal. But given the moral victory which Burton, the League's latest members, achieved against its oldest club, a week after County's chastening reverse at Barnet, how long before County's ambitious Middle Eastern owners Munto Finance press Eriksson to give more hands-on help – or even replace the incumbent manager Ian McParland?

It seems perverse to employ Eriksson as a recruiting sergeant rather than tapping in to the tactical acumen of a coach who won trophies with Lazio, Roma, Sampdoria and Benfica, as well as guiding England to within touching distance of the World Cup semi-finals. The one big name he has attracted so far, Sol Campbell, is reportedly being paid £10m over five years (although he revealed in the matchday programme that he had signed up "for the romance"). However, when McParland was asked when the former international defender would be fit to make his debut in the fourth tier of the English game, he replied curtly: "Don't know."

Eriksson, meanwhile, was apparently taking in England's defeat of Slovenia on television somewhere within the Meadow Lane offices. As he watched players who were the core of his Three Lions side – Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney – he may have reflected that on the equivalent Saturday in 2001 he was about to oversee the 5-1 rout of Germany. The new dawn promised by that night in Munich – "Even Heskey scored" as the song has it – would prove as false as the extravagant bust sported by one of Saturday's extraordinary spectators.

Now, after spells in charge of Manchester City and Mexico, Eriksson must endure repeated quotes by England players about how different – that is how much better, particularly discipline-wise – the England set-up is under his old Serie A adversary Fabio Capello. His public appearances since arriving in Nottingham do not suggest a man who is pining for the past – the capacity to charm is undiminished – but the task of spearheading County's rise to the Championship by the end of his contract in 2014 will be as taxing as anything he has done in football.

As an attendance of less than 9,000 – bolstered by 1,258 Burton fans – demonstrated, County's potential is strictly finite, especially with Forest, and their more illustrious trophy collection and far greater fan-base, just a walk across the Trent. McParland spoke of bringing in "two or three" loan players. County certainly need them, for despite the Scot's protestations to the contrary, a Burton team fresh from the Blue Square Premier and battered 5-1 at home by Chesterfield in midweek started and finished the stronger.

Paul Peschisolido's side looked set to pay for a failure to exploit the openings they crafted, largely due to Kasper Schmeichel's excellence in the home goal, when Karl Hawley ghosted into a huge gap behind Burton's back four before chipping Artur Krysiak from 18 yards soon after half-time. Johnnie Jackson twanged the Pole's bar with a free-kick but the Campbell-sized captain Guy Branston and his cohorts resisted County's siege before coming forward again.

Richard Walker appeared as a substitute to hit a fierce, angled equaliser five minutes from time after being allowed to turn in the penalty area. It could have been worse for McParland, Burton's Jacques Maghoma drilling an 87th-minute shot that came back off the post.

The mutton dressed as lamb was in the stand on this occasion, but Eriksson's experience with an intrusive press will be telling him County could be cast in similar terms if they fail to build on a moderate start.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks