FA stands by Eriksson as vultures gather

The honeymoon is over, but the divorce is not yet imminent. That was the pledge from the Football Association yesterday as England digested the implications of their failure to defeat Macedonia.

Paul Barber, the director of marketing and communications and one of the closest confidantes of chief executive Adam Crozier, insisted: "We are hugely supportive of Sven [Goran Eriksson]. He has done a great job. England have had one defeat in 13 competitive matches and that was to Brazil, who became world champions. Sven got us to the World Cup and we've made a solid start in the European Championships."

A vote of confidence is usually the prelude to the dispatch of a P45 but not this time. Apart from the £10m cost of paying up Eriksson's contract the FA does not see any obvious alternatives. Steve McClaren is identified with the current set-up. Terry Venables has taken Leeds, who have finished in the top five for five seasons, to ninth in the Premiership. Alan Curbishley's Charlton are in the relegation zone. Peter Taylor is at Hull. Having employed five managers in nine years the FA does not intend to rush to judgement.

The media have been less reticent which may ultimately force the FA's hand. The xenophobes who didn't want a foreign manager gleefully seized upon Wednesday's result. That will not concern the FA, but the shift in position by several pundits who welcomed Eriksson will. When the print media turn against an England manager the electronic branch usually follows. Together they can create an irresistible momentum.

Eriksson did not help matters by misleading the press on team selection. Glenn Hoddle and Kevin Keegan did the same as their reigns turned sour. Not that criticism will affect him. While the Swede has been disturbed by tabloid intrusion into his private life, working in Italy left him inured to criticism of his professional judgement.

Then there are the financial implications. In the long-term, failure to reach Euro 2004 will cost millions. In the short, those fans handed the FA's Christmas marketing brochure on the way into St Mary's are likely to have left it there.

Eriksson insists England will still automatically qualify. But, as he relaxes on the beach – he left for an undisclosed location yesterday – his mind will return to Wednesday and the knowledge that without significant improvement Portugal will only be reached via the play-offs.

Although he will hold a get-together next month, the next match, a friendly against either Australia or Denmark, is not until February. It is a long time for manager and players to stew in Wednesday's bad odour.

"I have never had to wait four months after a bad result before," he said. "It is very strange. I am disappointed, but I am not going down on my knees. We deserved to win. I agree we should have scored more goals, we should not have conceded those goals, and we should have defended better on counter-attacks, but the rest we did rather well."

When Eriksson returns he will be seeking a successor to David Seaman (not that he admits this), evidence that Steven Gerrard can concentrate for 90 minutes, and a left-footed flank player. Since the last may be the most elusive he also needs to reconsider his reliance on a flat 4-4-2. Having found a flexible alternative in Slovakia his reversal to type beggared belief.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor