You’ve got to hand it Sven Goran Eriksson. He gets some good gigs.
His latest as boss of Ivory Coast for the World Cup will see him once again perform on the highest stage of all and, whisper it quietly, he might do really, really well.
Ivory Coast is possibly Africa’s best side and any side that has Drogba up front has a chance of success even if the increasingly hapless Kolo Toure is at the back.
Sven is actually a rather good manager whose reputation was sullied by the British press who subjected him to unjustified ridicule. He was pilloried as England manager in one of the British media and its slavish, grunting followers regular bouts of xenophobia but the three quarter finals he reached were quite possibly an over achievement in the face of ludicrous over-expectation. England never were the golden generation. That was a term created as a stick to beat him and the players with.
His England critics said he didn’t do much really, however, the players loved him and the 3 quarter finals he reached represented England’s best ever run of tournament finishes. Along the way we trashed Germany – an achievement that would be still lauded today if it had been done by any English manager.
What those critics really disliked was that he was disarmingly charming and didn’t play their games. He wouldn’t give them quotes, he wouldn’t kow tow to them and was genuinely puzzled by their obsession with his private life and his success with women.
But throughout he remained dignified, calm and rational. All character traits the British press despise despite claiming the contrary to be true. So because he gave them nothing, they decided to savage him. But because his record was so good – losing only one qualification game in three campaigns – they could only do that by claiming that we should be winning tournaments not going out at quarter finals. More rational voices without an anti-Sven agenda, always knew this was, to say the least over-optimistic.
When he went to Manchester City, he was the first manager to win both local derbies since for 40 years. The much favored Mark Hughes could not match his 9th place finish and finished with 5 points less.
Admittedly the Mexico job was a stinker and the Notts County fiasco bizarre to say the least. But at last, we’ll be able to see how he does at the top level again and how wonderful it would be if he came up against England at some stage. If England are to go out of the World Cup and I expect them to do so earlier than many do, it would be excellent to see Sven sticking it to his critics from the British media and the more knuckleheaded of England’s fans by beating the country that was so disparaging about his talents.