'We want to expose England's weakness'

Austria's temporary coach, Andreas Herzog, is set to keep faith with his promising young squad. Paul Newman reports

Instead the Austrian football federation sacked him. Hans Krankl was dismissed last month after three years as national coach, having fallen out with the president of the governing body. The team that will face England at Old Trafford today have been prepared by Andreas Herzog, the 35-year-old former Bayern midfielder who is Austria's most capped player. He is assisted by Slavko Kovacic, Krankl's assistant, and Willi Ruttensteiner, the under-21 coach.

Although the federation were disappointed by failure to qualify for next year's World Cup, their young Austrian team had shown plenty of promise. Having held England to a 2-2 draw in Vienna at the start of the campaign, thanks in no small part to a terrible blunder by David James, the Austrians went on to beat Wales at home and away.

What did for them was two defeats against Poland, though luck was not on their side in either match. Speculation mounted over Krankl's future at the time of last month's crucial defeat by the Poles in Chorzow and a lacklustre goalless draw against Azerbaijan. After Krankl's departure the situation descended into near-farce when Josef Hickersberger agreed to take over, but only after he had overseen Rapid Vienna's Champions' League campaign.

One of Krankl's regrets will be that he did not have another chance to work with Roland Linz, who has finally begun to fulfil his early promise. The 24-year-old striker has blossomed since returning for a second spell at FK Austria and his three goals over two legs helped take the club into the first round proper of the Uefa Cup.

Linz's performance against the Poles last month was even more impressive. With Austria 2-0 down he came on as a second-half substitute as the team switched from 4-5-1 to 4-4-2. He scored twice, though he was unable to prevent a 3-2 defeat.

The team are led by Andreas Ivanschitz, who became Austria's youngest captain at the age of 20 last year. The Rapid Vienna midfielder, who can also play in attack, has attracted the attention of several leading European clubs. SV Salzburg's René Aufhauser provides strength alongside him.

Stuttgart's Martin Stranzl is likely to be a key figure in defence, which could be Austria's weakest department. Emanuel Pogatetz, the Middlesbrough defender, is suspended. Rapid Vienna's comparatively inexperienced Helge Payer has been preferred in goal to Jürgen Macho, formerly of Sunderland and Chelsea.

Only six of the squad play outside Austria, four of them in Germany. Herzog has called only one new player into his squad, the Austria Vienna midfielder Andreas Lasnik, indicating that the temporary coach has no intention of experimenting. "We want to play with confidence, show courage and take risks to expose England's weaknesses," Herzog said.

"All the pressure is on Sven Goran Eriksson's team. Their recent results were poor and they simply have to beat us at home. We are stronger than Northern Ireland, so everything is possible. We want our players to show their full potential and have fun out on the pitch."

Considering the youthful nature of their team - the average age of the current squad is 25 - Austria will have high hopes of performing well at the 2008 European Championship finals, which they will co-host with Switzerland. Not that the Austrians are ever likely to reach the heights of their "wunderteam" of the 1930s or the side that finished third in the 1954 World Cup.

The last time Austria played here was a friendly in 1973. England's next opponents then - as they are this time - were Poland, who drew 1-1 to qualify for the following year's World Cup, which, like next year's tournament, was held in Germany. England would certainly settle for the same outcome today against Austria, having won that match at Wembley 32 years ago 7-0.

Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable