When it was revealed Sven Goran Erikson had agreed to take over the reins at Ivory Coast ahead of this year’s World Cup I expect the reaction of most England fans was to tut and comment on how much he likes big bags of cash.
During his rather unspectacular time in charge of the England side he gained a reputation as a manager who was interested in a hefty payday and very little else. Apparently indifferent performances from his players at two major tournaments didn’t help, and nor did the “Fake Sheik” incident.
However, England fans are not exactly the most balanced of football pundits. The vast majority of them expect their side to win the World Cup, seemingly forgetting that there are seven or eight teams who are just as good as, or better than, the Three Lions.
The truth of the matter is England neither overachieved nor underachieved while Erikson was in charge. They got to two quarter finals and that was about their level then and, to be honest, it probably still is now. The betting site odds that make England third favourites for the current tournament are not a reflection of how good the side is, but just how heavily they have been backed by overexcited fans.
If you want an example of a bad England manager look at Steve McClaren or, if you want to go a bit further back, Don Revie. The latter failed to get the side into Euro 1976 and then quit to become coach of the United Arab Emirates, selling the story of his resignation to the Daily Mail along the way.
This brings us nicely on to the Fake Sheik story. Yes Erikson was foolish, but can anyone blame him for trying to line up a new job if England won the World Cup? And how many people in whatever field they work in don’t look for a new position while currently contracted to an employer?
With the Ivory Coast in such a tough group Erikson has his work cut out, as glance at any betting guide will tell you as much. However, with a few good performances this could be his chance to rehabilitate his reputation as an international manager. (199)