Sven Goran Eriksson claimed last night that his managerial reputation would not be defined by the outcome of his third encounter with Luiz Felipe Scolari, with the Swede confidently predicting his England reign will continue beyond the World Cup quarter-final against Portugal.
Eriksson is yet to take his adopted nation beyond this stage of an international tournament, a frustration caused exclusively by Scolari at both the 2002 World Cup and the 2004 European Championship, and although another failure would prompt fresh allegations of under-achievement by a talented squad and their £5m-a-year manager, he believes his status does not rest on the outcome of events in Gelsenkirchen today.
The England manager, who has won domestic titles in Sweden, Portugal and Italy, along with the Uefa Cup and the Cup-Winners' Cup at club level, insisted: "I don't think my reputation is on the line in this game more than any other. I have been in this game for 30 years now and I have won trophies in the past so I don't think my reputation depends on this game, but I am very much looking forward to taking England to the semi-finals and final of the World Cup."
As such, Eriksson refused to countenance the idea that this could be his last day as an employee of the Football Association - "It will not be my last game in charge. I have never thought about that," he said; "I strongly believe this will not be my last game" - and was emboldened enough to predict only the end of England's disappointing performances in this World Cup. "We are getting the results and the best will come out tomorrow, I trust them absolutely. This match is not going to go wrong," he claimed.
Eriksson's conviction that England's interest in this World Cup will not be shelved by Scolari once again is based on an argument that has not been realised in Germany so far, namely that this is the finest squad he has had at his disposal.
Nevertheless, he argued: "This is the best team I have ever had. I don't know if I am a better manager [since the 2002 World Cup] but I do have a better team. They are used to winning at club level, they have more experience, they are the right age and they are extremely confident. They know they can beat any other team."
He added: "We have a good team and the quality to go all the way. You never know what can happen in football, with red cards, own goals and of course injuries, but we have the quality to do it, I am sure of that, and I am sure we will play a very good game against Portugal. I can feel it."Reuse content