It is not simply explained by the fact that many more Norwegians have come to England than Swedes, because the latter's failures far outnumber those of Norway. Going back to Glenn Hysen at Liverpool in the early 90s right up to Tomas Brolin (Leeds Utd and Crystal Palace) and Martin Dahlin (Blackburn Rovers) today, there has been a long list of Swedes who have failed to live up to their reputations. In fact that has been half the trouble: most of them have come to England with their reputations - and probably their financial future - already secured, unlike the younger, hungrier Norwegians.
George Graham, who has had more than a few dealings with Scandinavians, both at Highbury and Elland Road, believes that some of the Swedes have found the English game too physically demanding. "Anders Limpar was very difficult, very temperamental," he said recently. "But then he wasn't a genuine Swede, his father was Hungarian. He was one of the most talented players I have worked with in training. But you never knew how he would perform in a match - until 10 minutes into it, and then you might find yourself with 10 men.
"He got very friendly with the president (vice-chairman David Dein) and his family. I think he'd worked out that that was the way to be successful - go abroad and fall in love with the president's family. He thought that that would be enough to keep him at the club. He made a mistake."
IF MANCHESTER City fans are embarrassed about having to pay a league game at the likes of Macclesfield today, they should consider the fall from grace of one of their former favourites, Paul Stewart, once of Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and England, who will be turning out today for Workington against Prescot Cables in the North West Trains League. Actually, it's not quite the riches to rags story it may seem since the 33-year-old Stewart turned down offers from several league clubs in order to concentrate more on his business interests. It's a big signing for Workington - when they were members of the Football League they were the last team to play the Busby Babes before the Munich Air Disaster - and the club is charging pounds 70 for season tickets to help pay Stewart's wages. So far they have sold four. "I pulled on his heart strings and asked him to come and enjoy his last few years of playing and he agreed," said the chairman, Bill Wilson. "They're not all like Pierre van Hooijdonk, thinking only of the money."
FOR BARROW the waiting is almost over. 26 years ago they lost their Football League status after finishing in the re-election zone of the old Fourth Division and being replaced by Hereford United. Today Barrow "welcome" Hereford - who themselves were relegated from the league two seasons ago - to their Holker Street stadium for the first ever meeting between the two clubs now in the Conference. "There's a little score to settle," said the commercial director, David Murgatroyd. "People in these parts haven't forgotten what happened and they'll be coming out of the woodwork for this one." Third from bottom of the Conference, Barrow could do with a win to alleviate fears of another relegation.
GARY AND Philip Neville will be launching their book, For Club And Country, next week with its serialisation in the Manchester Evening News as opposed to the Sun - I wonder why? After all, there is some juicy tittle tattle in it, by all accounts, with poor David Beckham coming in for more stick. Apparently, when he and his Manchester United team-mate Gary Neville shared a room in Georgia on an England trip two years ago, Beckham ran up a pounds 1,600 phone bill talking to his Spice Girl fiancee, Victoria Adams, and Neville ended up having to pick up half the tag.
TRANMERE ROVERS, for the past six months, have been selling Everton shirts and Liverpool merchandise at the club's shop until they called a halt last week. That was when their divided loyalties were stretched to the limit by the proposed sale of their most treasured asset, goalkeeper Steve Simonsen, to Goodison Park. Apparently, while Tranmere were more than happy to give Everton their chairman, and even the shirts off their back, they drew the line at Simonsen.
FANZINE EDITORS everywhere must have been aghast at the news that Preston North End's Raising The Coffin is to be published by the club, which saved it from going bust. A full-time employee, Eddie Cotton, now writes it along with two of the original authors. The club insists it does not vet content.
FOOTBALL HAS certainly changed since George Graham and Charlie George helped Arsenal do the Double in 1971. Television, now the driving force in the game, was still predominantly black and white, a fourth channel was little more than a futuristic dream, and satellites and cable were NASA hardware and bits of wire respectively. Graham went on to managerial success with the Gunners and is now (above) in charge at Leeds. Charlie went on to play at Derby and Southampton, and now (below) owns a garage behind King's Cross station in London.
The price is right
SWEEPER AIMS to maintain its 100 per cent* strike rate with a global recession-busting Premiership accumulator and a host of other shrewd selections. Following their dreary draw with Chelsea in the week, Arsenal look set for a goalless 90 minutes at Filbert Street. Liverpool - who looked awesome going forward on Wednesday against Coventry but still looked vulnerable at the back - and West Ham, who somehow contrived to surrender a three-goal lead to Wimbledon the same evening, could entertain Upton Park patrons to a Desmond (2-2). Tomorrow's match, which those who have sold their souls for a satellite dish can watch on TV, will see midweek winners Spurs and Middlesbrough meet at White Hart Lane and the game may end 1-1. Les Ferdinand could score the first goal.
*Figure excludes matches played outside Lithuania.
SWEEPER'S STAKING PLAN
(pounds 1 accumulator with Stanley:) Aston Villa to draw with Wimbledon (12- 5); Charlton to draw with Derby (9-4); Chelsea to beat Nottingham Forest (4-7); Everton to draw with Leeds (11-5); Leicester to draw with Arsenal (11-5); Manchester Utd to beat Coventry (4-9); Newcastle to draw with Southampton (12-5); Sheffield Wednesday to draw with Blackburn (11-5); West Ham to draw with Liverpool (11-5); Tottenham to draw with Middlesbrough 12-5, (Return: pounds 32,760.64).
SATURDAY BORE DRAW
(Game expected to end 0-0)
Leicester v Arsenal
(pounds 1 at 8-1, Coral, William Hill, Stanley).
(Game expected to end 2-2)
West Ham v Liverpool (pounds 1 at 14-1, generally).
TOMORROW'S TV MATCH
Tottenham v Middlesbrough
Correct score tip: 1-1 (pounds 1 at 6-1, William Hill).
First goal-scorer: Ferdinand (pounds 1 at 5-1, generally).
ORIGINAL BANK: pounds 100.
CURRENT KITTY: ER... pounds 76.48.
TOTAL WAGERED TODAY: pounds 5.45. (Includes 45p tax paid on).
ON THE BOARD
Name: Trevor Watkins.
Position: Chairman of AFC Bournemouth Community Football Club, aka Bournemouth.
Form: City lawyer and lifetime Cherries fan, Watkins masterminded the establishment of a trust fund to effect the rescue of Bournemouth by a group of fans in June1997.
Big Ideas: Heartening in the week big-business devoured football, Watkins buys his own season ticket and pays for his seat on the bus to games. Free or much-reduced tickets for children, low replica shirt prices and a community centre at the club are all part of his admirable intentions.
Found on the Web: 'Lost in the mist!' - a true football story
A Cambridgeshire league match was played one winter in typically murky fenland conditions. After about 10 minutes, the fog came down so thickly that visibility was reduced to about half the length of the pitch, so the referee decided to abandon the game. It was only after the players had been enjoying the warmth of the changing rooms for about 20 minutes that a player on one of the teams noticed that their goalkeeper had not come in. When they went out to look for him they discovered him still faithfully guarding his goal, oblivious to the fact that the match had been abandoned. Apparently, he thought his team had been playing particularly well and had managed to keep the play at the other end of the pitch.
ITN newsreader and TV presenter
"Nick Hornby speaks directly for me. Like him I learned to love Arsenal from a distance. Similarly the impact of actually visiting Highbury for the first time as a boy in 1971 set the seal on my infatuation. At university at Brighton in the 70s I managed to visit Highbury three times in one season and was privileged to witness a vintage 270 minutes of goalless football. Sheer bliss. Now things have gone horribly wrong. We score goals by the hatful, the old enemy, Spurs, are all but vanquished, and every dinner party in London has some arriviste Arsenal fan discussing the "donkey's sublime winner against Everton"."
Seen But Not Bought
THE OFFICIAL Chelsea Merchandise Brochure, costing pounds 2, has to be one of the leading must (not) buys in the country. The 68 glossy colour pages are full of wonderful Chelsea bargains. One mystery is the omission from this lovely tome of the Chelsea wine selection (available via the Chelsea website). Who, after all, could resist 12 bottles of Chardonnay - with a Chelsea FC label - for pounds 59.49, or a dozen bottles of Bergerac for pounds 67.49?
Who Ate All The pies?
THE AWARD-WINNING Cambridge United bacon rolls account for over half of the club's food revenues. "No one can resist the smell of bacon," said Carla Frediani, the club's commercial manager. Costing pounds 1.80, the rolls are filled with best back bacon (supplied locally) and cooked on a griddle. Chips are off the menu, however. "Too dangerous," said Frediani. Staff burns are down 50 per cent since banning them.
They're Not all Dennis Bergkamp
Unsung foreign legionnaires No 5
Known as 'Tepi' to his team-mates at Preston, the 24-year-old moved to England from Jaro, a small club in his native Finland, in December 1995. Tepi started his playing career at 16 at another Finnish club, Ilves, from where he moved to Jaro after five years and on to Preston for pounds 125,000. The arrival of Bobby Mimms at the Lancashire club - as well as a few clangers between the sticks - saw Tepi off on loan spells at Scarborough and Darlington. He came back, however, to make the Preston No 1 shirt his own, and is now also his country's first-choice goalie as well. Still prone to the odd howler, "he's the sort of player who makes up for it," said fanzine editor, Steve Brennan. Contributor: Sam WallaceReuse content