The fatal flaw in England’s armoury

Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson is looking to return to the Premier League with Leicester. The popular Swede took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about his time in charge of England and his thoughts on English football in general.

When you started as England manager modern techniques such as sports psychology weren’t too common and are much more common place now. How much of an effect do you think you have had personally on the development of coaching in this country?

I don’t know but psychology in sport is very important. We have a guy working part-time with us here and that’s important for everyone in the club, not only players. If you look at the reality in clubs, all players train physically, and work on the training techniques and training tactics, but mentally I am not sure we are up to date if you compare football with other sports around the world.

When you look back at your time as England manager do you consider it a success?

I don’t know. Success is to win a big tournament, that’s the dream of everyone in England. We did not win a big tournament. But I don’t think it was that bad. Success is to win a tournament. During my time in 2006 we should have done better than the quarter final. We should have got to the semi-final or final or even won it.

Do you think fans in this country sometimes have unrealistic expectations for the national team?

Yes and especially the media. The media builds up the team before the big tournaments, so before you have kicked a ball in a World Cup you have almost won it according to the media. This puts the players under big pressure, too much sometimes.

Are the players aware of this pressure, do they feel the pressure?

You cannot live a life one month before the World Cup without reading a paper or without looking at TVs, so everyone is aware of that of course.

Out of all the players you have managed where does Wayne Rooney rank amongst those, and can you explain why he didn’t have such a good world cup last year when he was coming off possibly his best season for Manchester United?

No, the last point I can’t explain. To explain that you would need to have lived together with the team and seen the training and look at the ambient in the camp and things like that. Rooney is one of the best footballers in the world, he has been for years now. He is extremely important for England and Manchester United. Sometimes we forget he is still young and has many years to play. He is a top player.

There is a lot of talk about introducing a winter break in football. What effect do you think that would have on English football?

Well if you just put your head down and look where you are standing, we understand that winter is not the right time to play football. I sometimes agree with the people who say we should start the season in March and end in November. With the Premier League the pitches are good all year around. The main problem I see is for the youth teams when they have to play on frozen pitches in January and February. Also having wet pitches you cannot kick the ball 10 yards if you are 8 years old. We don’t play football when we should play football. We should play football in the summer.

In principle would you favour a switch to summer seasons?

I understand it is maybe impossible. It is a tradition in this country for everyone to go to football on Boxing day. However if you look at it practically we don’t play football when we the pitches are at their best, which is a little bit crazy.

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