Hughes turns on the style to launch Sven's County affair
Notts County 5 Bradford City 0
Sunday 09 August 2009
All of the famous flirtation makes it difficult for some to remember that Sven Goran Eriksson has always been one for a honeymoon period and, as he sets off on another venture in the Football League's basement division, with Tord Grip once again by his side, he could not have asked for a better start to life at Notts County.
After this summer's takeover of the league's oldest club by Munto Finance Ltd, Eriksson arrived as director of football a fortnight ago, with Grip acting as the club's general advisor, and as a Lee Hughes hat-trick helped to beat one of the division's most-fancied teams the home fans had the same glow as if they had reached the 2002 World Cup against the odds or been part of those golden early months at Manchester City.
The manager, Ian McParland, already seems to be tiring of the fuss. "You have to live with it," he said. "There has been a circus going on but who would think a man of Sven Goran Eriksson's stature is going to arrive at Notts County? No one was more surprised than me but my lads have kept their heads down and they've worked hard."
Eriksson has experienced a cross-section of football in this country, having gone through the boom and bust and magnifying glass attention of international management to his spell under a loose cannon of an owner at Eastlands and now the peculiar mix of the lower leagues and expectation.
While some fans outside Meadow Lane spoke readily of "a dream come true" and discussed the prospects of the Championship within five years, there were just as many others bemoaning the lengths of the queues and wondering aloud "Where were all this lot last year?"
The early attention is what should be expected but Eriksson, who has always been baffled by the huge interest in him as a person, took his place quietly in the director's box after signing a couple of autographs before kick-off. He is still learning the ropes at this level but the first thing he will have spotted is that every moment of every game is played at a frenzied tempo that might remind him of the closing stages of England's World Cup qualifier with Greece in 2001.
They took the lead when Craig Westcarr lobbed down the line and Luke Rodgers hooked the ball into the area where Davies arrived late – unfortunately several years too late to answer Eriksson's notorious left midfield problem – to head in off the post in the 17th minute.
The home fans, while careful to acknowledge McParland, were already drawing comparisons with Juventus when Zesh Rehman attempted to play offside, only for Hughes to race on to a long clearance, take the ball past Simon Eastwood, the Bradford goalkeeper, and slide it into the net to spark the first chants of Eriksson's name.
Two minutes before the interval, Bradford failed to clear another Westcarr cross and Hughes was able to touch in from close range. Nine minutes after the restart, Hughes completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after Rodgers was hauled down by Matthew Clarke and Brendan Moloney rounded off a fine afternoon with an excellent dribble and finish with a few minutes remaining.
It was a performance every bit as convincing as England's 5-1 win in Germany in 2001 and Stuart McCall, the Bradford manager, said: "We knew we had to defend well but we couldn't cope with Hughes and Rodgers. It was an embarrassing result."
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