Sign of the times

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The Independent Online

"A sad day for English football," was the reaction yesterday of Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, to the news that Sven Goran Eriksson is to become England's new coach. Mr Taylor proclaimed that there would be "tears at the end of the day".

"A sad day for English football," was the reaction yesterday of Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association, to the news that Sven Goran Eriksson is to become England's new coach. Mr Taylor proclaimed that there would be "tears at the end of the day".

In reality, the sadness for English football is that we hear such bleating from Mr Taylor and others (including Jack Charlton, an Englishman, who seems to have forgotten that he was a successful manager of Ireland for eight years). Criticising Mr Eriksson's management skills would be one thing. But given the fact that he has won a series of trophies across Europe, including bringing Lazio the Serie A title after 26 years, Mr Eriksson is hardly a loser.

The critics' problem is simple: Mr Eriksson is not English. But such narrow-minded attitudes should be discarded as another fortress crumbles before the forces of globalisation. Was it a sad day when Simon Rattle was asked to conduct the Berlin Philharmonic, when Alexander McQueen took over the helm at Givenchy, or when British rowers won gold medals in Sydney after being coached by a German? Of course not.

Instead, Mr Eriksson's appointment is a welcome sign that the Football Association is finally coming to terms with the modern world, and with the reality of England's place in world football. Foreign coaches and players have breathed new life into the Premiership in terms of skill, tactics, training and diet. We must now hope for a similar revolution on the international stage.

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