Mathias Lühr: No matter what the result, 'Svennis' will always lose out

Are we unfair to Sven Goran Eriksson? Swedish journalist Mathias Lühr thinks so, but says his countrymen know there is no pleasing the English
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The Independent Football

There is no way that England are going to win the 2006 World Cup. They will probably not beat Sweden tonight in Cologne either. But don't blame Sven Goran Eriksson. You can blame the English egos.

Eriksson should have known when he signed those lucrative contracts with the English FA. He should have known that there is no way you can please the English. Whatever you do or whatever you achieve. Period.

England have not beaten Sweden for 38 years. Still, when I talked to British reporters before tonight's game they just smiled (in a typically British way) when I asked if they thought Sweden could beat England.

"Nooooo."

Why?

"I just can't see it happening. Why? I just don't."

And there is your problem, England. You think you have the best footballers on this planet. When you are dealing with that type of attitude, a national team manager can only fail. And fail badly.

Looking at it as a Swede, I cannot see anybody doing a better job than Eriksson - or "Svennis", as we call him - has done as the England manager over the years. The problem is that the majority of the English football fans - and everybody around the game in England - don't see the limitations of the team and players.

When Eriksson took on the England job the Swedish people were very proud and he became an even bigger celebrity in his homeland. Somehow, it was the definitive acknowledgement of Swedish football. Because British football has a special part in our hearts. It is there because we have all grown up watching hundreds of Premiership matches live from England on our television sets.

So when one of our own was appointed England manager, well that was massive. Suddenly we cheered even more for England - almost as much as we did for Sweden. We really wanted Svennis to succeed in England.

But then something happened. We had come to know Eriksson as the cool, calm and collected manager from Torsby in the darkest part of Varmland. A man dedicated to his football, and only his football. Well, maybe also his family. But a man with no extravagant desires.

Little did we know...

It's sad to say, but when the well-documented affairs were rolled out in the English media, Eriksson's status of a football saint back in Sweden took a huge knock. It was one thing after another. One love or sex scandal after another.

Few Swedes could avoid the headlines in the national newspapers (mostly imported directly from England), and everybody had an opinion.

Some were appalled. The rest of the Swedish people just laughed at the whole circus, laughed at Eriksson. It was really sad. Sven's coaching abilities have never been questioned in Sweden though. He has plenty of proof of that. But here we go again. The English can never be pleased. Nothing is ever good enough.

First he's too boring. Then he's too flamboyant with the ladies. And then the envious English Premiership managers cry that everything is just disgusting, and call for a Sam Allardyce type of coach (yeah, that would really have helped).

Then Eriksson subs too many players during the friendlies. And then ... well, it goes on and on. And in between all of this he has managed to take the team to three straight championships. Pretty impressive.

In this year's World Cup Eriksson has coached England to two straight victories over Trinidad & Tobago and Paraguay. With two clean sheets. The team are already through to the next round.

Fantastic? No! Because the way the English have played hasn't been impressive enough. What to do? Blame Sven Goran Eriksson!

And you know what? He's gotten used to it. And the criticism will probably explode tonight in Cologne, when Sweden extend the 38-year long unbeaten streak against the English.

But in an ironic way I guess the Swedish people want to see England winning the World Cup in Germany. Just to see the faces on all of those people who made fun of his skills as a manager. (But not at the cost of Swedish success).

Mathias Lühr writes for 'Expressen' in Sweden

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