Sven-Goran Eriksson talks England v Germany, Harry Kane & World Cup woe
International football doesn’t get much bigger than England versus Germany and the two rivals meet once again in the last-16 of European Championships.
Could history repeat itself at Wembley Stadium? We spoke to a manager who knows a thing or two about leading England in a major tournament – And knows how to beat Germany too.
Ahead of his England v Germany Ladbrokes 5-A-Side selection, we spoke to former England boss, Sven Goran-Eriksson…
Harry Kane has to wake up and arrive at Euro 2020
“I’m still a huge England fan. The only time I wouldn’t support them is when they play against Sweden. I hope England win the tournament.
“Under Gareth Southgate they’ve been doing very well. He’s done a good job in more or less every game since he took over. They win games in style; they could have been a little better in this tournament but they are through to the knockouts and I’m sure they’ll only get better.
“To have reached the last-16 without conceding a goal but not playing at your best can only be a good thing.
“Harry Kane has to wake up and arrive at the European Championships now. Everyone knows what he can do, but for some reason he hasn’t been successful so far in this tournament. I think it will come; he can win the Euros for England.
“Southgate has so many attacking options, but for me Harry Kane and Raheem Sterling must play from the start. Then the most important thing is executing the right system, and picking the players accordingly. Do you play two up-front, or two wingers? Do you go with two or three at the back?
“I don’t know if he’s going to start the game, but Jack Grealish is the game-changer. He’s fantastic. But there are so many other options. It’s good to have these options, but at the same time, you need balance – especially for the game against Germany.”
My favourite moment as England manager
“My favourite moment as England manager is, of course, that Germany game in 2001. We played many good games, such as Argentina in the World Cup. Tactically we had an extremely good game; in fact, I think FIFA selected it as one of the best tactical performances in the tournament that year.
“The most important goal in the famous game in Germany was Steven Gerrard’s, just before half-time. Germany should have scored just a few minutes before, and that would have changed everything. Instead we did, and going in at the break with a lead was great. We could control things a little better, we knew we could defend deep, stay back and kill them on the counter-attack.
“I don’t think anyone thought that game would end 5-1 – not before the game or at half-time. But I remember talking to my players about the importance of defending the lead – but when we had the ball, I told them they had to attack.
“They were a very dangerous side, but it was just one of those nights where everything went very well for England and very bad for Germany. Tomorrow will be another one of those nights.”
We should have won the World Cup in 2006
“It was a very positive surprise just how huge the interest in football was in England – especially when you get to the big tournaments. It was fantastic – you feel like you have 60 million people pushing you towards success.
“When I came to England, my first goal was to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, and we did it. Some of the games we won in style, in others we suffered, but we did it.
“I didn’t think we were ready to win the World Cup in 2002, so what we achieved was acceptable for me. We met Brazil in the quarter-final but they were the better team – we couldn’t get the ball off them, even when they went down to ten players.
“Then the other two big tournaments were Euro 2004 and the World Cup in 2006, and I especially look back at 2006 where we lost to Portugal in the quarter-finals. That was not good enough from us; we should have at least reached the semi-final – we should have even made the final and won it.
“Before the tournament started, I thought that 2006 was the year for England. We had a lot of experience in the squad and some world-class players. It was a real pity to lose to Portugal – again, on penalties – again.
“There were no teams better than us in 2006. Italy won the World Cup, but I don’t think they were especially good. Germany were not at their best, nor were Spain. We should have done better; that’s the one thing I regret most of all in my time with England.
“When you lose a knockout game in a major tournament – especially on penalties – it’s never easy to stand in front of your players afterwards and motivate them.
“But in 2006, what do you say to the players? It was the last day in my job. I just had to thank everybody for helping me over the years. That was more difficult, because I couldn’t just say “see you in August.” That game against Portugal was the worst defeat I’ve ever faced in my life.”
Paul Scholes was the best English player I worked with
“I had a lot of good football players over the years with England. The discussion in the media was always whether Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard could play together, and of course they could. They had to play together.
“I would have liked to have seen the press if I would have put one of them on the bench; they would have killed me!”
“But overall, the most talented player I worked with during my time at England was Paul Scholes. It was a pity that he retired after 2004.
“As a footballer, he had everything. OK, he wasn’t the best in the world at heading the ball, but he could do everything else. He could defend, he was a playmaker, he scored goals. He understood everything in football.
“The morning after we lost to Portugal in Euro 2004, Paul came to my office before we left the hotel. He knocked on my door and told me he was sorry, but that this was to be his last tournament. He wanted to retire.
“I told him he couldn’t. Of course he couldn’t. I asked him after much discussion to reconsider. I told him I’d come to him when the season started and sit down with him to talk about it. He said “Sven, you’re always welcome. I’m happy to sit with you, but my decision will not change”.
“One of the reasons he gave was that he didn’t want to stay in the camp for such long periods of time. He hated it. Paul is and was always a family man, which, of course, I respect. He felt as though he suffered in warmer climates as he was 30-years-old. He couldn’t give his all for the team, so maybe it was a combination of things.
“As far as talented footballers go, it’s very difficult to find one better than Paul Scholes.”
I could always tell Gareth Southgate would become a manager
“I’ve met Gareth a couple of times since I left my job as England manager, but I haven’t seen him for many years now. We know each other but we haven’t been in contact for a long, long time. I don’t think he needs any advice at all from me, because he’s doing very well.
“He was a very clever football player, both on and off the pitch. He was curious in training and interested in coaching, but he was also a very serious player. I could guess even back then that he would end up becoming a manager.
“It makes me very happy and incredibly proud to see some of my old players stepping into management. I know they’ve not learned everything from me, but maybe they picked up a little bit.
“It also makes me more interested in the teams they’re coaching; Steven Gerrard is doing very well and I’m sorry about Frank Lampard – but I’m sure he will come back from it.
“It will be very interesting to see how Wayne Rooney develops as a manager. It’s a surprise for me that he wants to get into management, but he was an extremely clever footballer. Even when he was 17, you didn’t need to teach him anything – everything came to him automatically.”
Match prediction: England 2-1 Germany
“As much as I hope we see another 5-1 win for England on Tuesday night, I don’t think it will be the case. Germany are a little bit too good for that scoreline. But I think England will win 2-1, then Sweden win 2-1 afterwards.”