home      service centre   |   publications   |   football family   |   competitions   

Eriksson looks for England improvement against Macedonia

© Reuters 2002

BRATISLAVA, Oct 13 (Reuters) - England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson will be looking for an improvement in Wednesday's Euro 2004 qualifier against Macedonia after his team scraped a 2-1 win over Slovakia on Saturday.

Trailing to a first-half goal from Szilard Nemeth, England needed an equaliser from skipper David Beckham and a late winner from Michael Owen to secure victory in their group seven opener.

Eriksson praised England's spirit, particularly against a back-drop of racist taunts aimed at their black players by the Slovak supporters and a pitch in woeful condition after two days of rain.

But he also pointed to the early errors - with yawning gaps opening up between midfielders and forwards - which could have cost them dear in Bratislava and must be avoided in Southampton.

"We didn't play very well for the first 30 minutes," the Swede said. "We were not aggressive and gave very little support to our attackers.

"When we had the ball, I thought the distance between our attack and midfield was a little bit too long. If you don't have the right positions, it's difficult to press the man with the ball.

"But we got better and finished the first half in a good way but with a bad result."

Eriksson was then delighted by a second-half showing from England which averted a nightmare start to their qualifying campaign.

In a group which includes Slovakia, Macedonia and Liechtenstein, the ability to take maximum points from the smaller teams may yet prove decisive in the race with Turkey to the automatic qualifying slot.

"Coming from 1-0 down against a good team, away, on such a pitch, shows extremely good team spirit - and there was good football," said Eriksson.

"It was a good game considering the pitch. When I saw it during the warm-up I thought it was okay - but going over it to sit on the bench it was difficult (just) to walk on."

Another problem was a flawed tactical partnership between Steven Gerrard, who missed the World Cup due to surgery, and the man who replaced him in central midfield in Japan, Nicky Butt.

The result was a duplication of effort, rather than an exciting blend of complementary skills.

"Maybe Nicky Butt and Steven Gerrard did more or less the same job in the first half," Eriksson conceded.

"That's why we changed and took (Paul) Scholes more into the middle...playing more like a diamond in the second half.

"We had Nicky Butt sitting in midfield, Paul Scholes as an offensive midfielder, Beckham to the right and Steven Gerrard to the left...and we were successful."

Eriksson reported no serious injury worries after the game, while central defender Sol Campbell will join the squad in Southampton on Sunday after a bout of gastro-enteritis last week.

Aside from the win itself, Eriksson will also be glad to see the back of a difficult week for the Swede in matters away from the pitch.

Fears that a previous relationship with television presenter ad compatriot Ulrika Jonsson would cause the England manager serious problems when extracts of her forthcoming autobiography were published on Sunday proved largely groundless.

More disturbing were the racist taunts and police charges into England fans on Saturday, both of which will be raised by the Football Association with UEFA, and a shooting in central Bratislava the night before in which two England fans were injured.

In terms of fans' behaviour, policing and newspaper speculation about his private life, Southampton should provide a welcome contrast to Eriksson's stay in Bratislava.

But the England manager will also be looking for an improvement in that rarely-discussed department over the past week - football.

Reports provided by

Sunday, 20 October
Seaman says he will not retire from international stage
Saturday, 19 October
South Korea coach sacked
Friday, 18 October
Boniek says he will quit if Poland miss Euro 2004
Israeli teams face heavy Cyprus security bills
Uruguayan footballers threaten to strike
Japan hopeful of Brazil friendly in March
Thursday, 17 October
England held to shock draw by Macedonia
Henry inspires France to 4-0 win over Malta
Superior Dutch sweep Austria aside
Faroese jubilant despite defeat by Germany
Pressure mounts on beleaguered Trapattoni
Mozambican coach resigns after 3-0 defeat
Ballack shines through in dull German display
Gunes unconcerned by Tugay retirement speculation
Japan coach Zico set to stand by Nakamura
Czech Republic 3 Belarus 0 - Euro under-21 result
Greece back in the hunt, says Rehhagel
Wednesday, 16 October
Eriksson wary of Macedonia threat
Tuesday, 15 October
Lizarazu vows to keep playing for France until Euro 2004
Rehhagel position 'not an issue' says Greek federation
Cyprus angered by UEFA treatment
France at full strength to take on Malta
France set to continue renaissance but Italy look shaky
Monday, 14 October
New faces in Poland squad for New Zealand friendly
Balakov doubtful for Bulgaria qualifier against Andorra
Yugoslav press praise impressive 1-1 draw in Naples
Inzaghi to miss clash with Wales
I won't quit says Italy coach Trapattoni
Croatia coach Baric called on to step down
Cyprus objects to postponement of Israel game
Dumitrescu quits as Romanian under-21 coach
McCarthy says he will quit after Euro 2004
N. Korean 1966 World Cup team revisit the past
Gambia hit Lesotho for six in African Nations Cup

  Copyright © 1994-2002 FIFA. All rights reserved.
  Copyright © 1994-2002 En-Linea, Inc. All rights reserved.