Defiant Eriksson says he would not change anything

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The Independent Football

England's footballers returned home from the European Championship yesterday, beaten but defiant. Sven Goran Eriksson, the coach, insisted he would not have changed anything. David Beckham, the captain, insisted he would continue to take penalties. The Football Association, Eriksson's employers, insisted his position was not under threat.

England's footballers returned home from the European Championship yesterday, beaten but defiant. Sven Goran Eriksson, the coach, insisted he would not have changed anything. David Beckham, the captain, insisted he would continue to take penalties. The Football Association, Eriksson's employers, insisted his position was not under threat.

Beckham, added Eriksson, would start England's next match, a friendly against Ukraine in Newcastle on 18 August, as captain, and the next one, a World Cup qualifier in Austria the following month. Beckham's form was patchy in the tournament, the Real Madrid midfielder failing to grasp matches the way his club team-mates Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo have, but Eriksson said: "I have no doubts. He is still an automatic selection. He will remain as captain.

"I have seen David Beckham play better for us but he will be on the pitch and for the next game and the game after that. He is very, very important.

"As for penalties. I talked to David this morning and said: 'If there was a penalty today, who should take it?' 'Me, of course,' he said. I will see. I have until August to think about it."

Paul Scholes would also remain an automatic choice, said Eriksson, despite his inability to last the pace in the heat.

The Manchester United player, who suffers from asthma, was substituted in all four England matches. The only international he completed of the nine he played in this season was the first, an evening friendly in Ipswich in August.

"As long as he was able to run and work at 100 per cent he was very good here," said Eriksson. "He is very good to have even if it is only for 60 minutes."

Italy's Giovanni Trapattoni is on his way out and Inaki Saez, the coach of Spain, yesterday followed Germany's Rudi Völler in resigning after an early exit from Euro 2004. But Eriksson, who nearly accepted an offer from Chelsea before the tournament, said he would not do the same ­ as long as he was wanted.

"I want to stay," he said. "It depends if the English people want me but I have no other plans and there is a World Cup in two years' time. I will stay, then we'll see what other people have to say. If the FA, the press and the people do not want a manager he normally has no choice."

While Eriksson has many detractors in the media and in the wider public there appears little demand for him to go, unlike the rise of discontent which did for predecessors Kevin Keegan and Glenn Hoddle. The FA, which has never dispensed with a manager for failing in a tournament, only for failing, or looking like failing, to get to one, were themselves quick to make clear they stood by their man.

Adrian Bevington, the FA's head of media relations, said: "We would like to make it very clear Sven has a contract for the next four years and we are completely behind him. As Mark Palios [the chief executive] said last week, we believe he is the best man for the job. We believe he will deliver the goods for England."

Eriksson added: "I think I have the support of the players. I am quite sure about that."

The squad had a brief meeting with Eriksson yesterday morning in which he told them he was "proud" of them and believed they would have "a good chance" of winning the 2006 World Cup, which he was "committed" to.

Eriksson added: "I told them we have showed we are very close to winning a tournament. In three-and-a-half years we have lost three competitive games [to Brazil in 2002, and France and Portugal this month] and the way we have lost them [Ronaldinho's goal, Zidane's injury-time goals, and penalties] the difference between winning and losing is nothing."

Eriksson had no further comment to make on the issue of the moving penalty spot, except to reiterate he had complained three times before the game. He added: "There is no point in complaining now." Bevington nevertheless indicated the FA were likely to refer to the issue in their post-finals report to the sport's European ruling body, Uefa.

Eriksson was also relatively sanguine about Sol Campbell's disallowed injury-time "goal". "Everyone makes mistakes, maybe that was one," he said. "I thought it was a goal. Looking at it afterwards on TV I feel it was a goal. But in football it is only a goal when the referee says it is a goal."

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