Jamaica blown away by a high win in Manchester

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The Independent Football

You could tell it was a friendly - nobody even bothered to boo during Jamaica's entertaining but seemingly interminable anthem - and a suitably relaxed crowd of 70,373 basked in sunshine and boundless optimism.

It was easy to fall into the general good humour. This may have been Sven Goran Eriksson's last match as England head coach on home soil, but what price him returning to these shores with the World Cup in his grasp in six weeks' time? England will certainly not lack for support in Germany but then if the excitement and enthusiasm of a nation's fans counted for anything, Jamaica would be reigning world champions.

Salford was awash in a sea of lurid yellow and green. The usual stench of hot dogs and fried onions was replaced by the more appetising aroma of barbecued jerk chicken, all washed down with a bottle or two of Red Stripe.

And if the Jamaicans were accommodating before the game, they were even more so during it. They were the friendliest of friendly opposition - well before half-time England had a four-goal lead and introduced substitutes as they pleased.

Meanwhile, the crowd entertained themselves with a Mexican wave, and needless to say, the Jamaicans happily joined in.

The match itself will not linger long in the memory - such fixtures rarely do. Who, for example, remembers the 2-2 draw against Cameroon with which England concluded their preparations four years ago? But having dispensed so ruthlessly with the Reggae Boyz, England should have little to fear from the Soca Warriors, aka Trinidad & Tobago, whom they face on Thursday week.

And so Eriksson's reign that began with a 3-0 victory over Spain at Villa Park some five years ago, ended - on English soil at least - with another facile win. In between times it has not always been a smooth passage, though Eriksson, the man who reinvented the concept of the friendly, insists the relationship between himself and the fans has never faltered.

"The love you have here for the game and for England takes my breath away," said Eriksson in his programme notes. "You are behind us from the beginning until the end. That is why you are the best football fans in the world." And indeed they are - giddy with excitement the week before the World Cup starts when watching their team win by six goals to nil. A pre-tournament lap of honour at the end of the game, after which Eriksson stood alone in the centre circle politely bowing, showed as much. But will he still be feeling the love in a week - let alone a month? This time, England really does expect.