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Character in question as lucky breaks spare Eriksson and England

It is probably not something Sven-Goran Eriksson has felt over the course of the past week of innuendo and so-far inaccurate supposition, but he is a lucky man.

The peroxide blond who altered his fortunes on Saturday night turned out to be David Beckham, not Ulrika Jonsson, and if Jonsson’s recollections are any guide then Beckham may well have been the recipient of roses from Eriksson yesterday afternoon in Southampton.

Judging by his performance in Bratislava, the England captain knows just what makes the roses grow.

Beckham is part of the conundrum that is Eriksson’s England. Both men, among others, mentioned England’s “character” afterwards in coming from behind in a match for only the second time under the Swede.

But it is the elusive nature of England’s true character which is difficult to fathom, particularly here but also on other occasions, and the lack of assertiveness.

Ultimately victory in FA Cup third-round conditions vindicated Eriksson but, as Slovakia’s goalscorer Szilard Nemeth said bitterly afterwards: “They got two lucky goals.”

Luck is not a characteristic to be sniffed at in any circumstance but the trouble comes when the luck runs out. England have had a fair slice of it under Eriksson, from the “foul” on Teddy Sheringham against Greece at Old Trafford which enabled Beckham to send England to the World Cup, to the Sebastian Deisler aberration when Germany were 1-0 up in Munich.

The fact that the lenient Italian referee Domenico Messina tolerated Beckham’s three bad tackles in the space of 13 minutes at the start of the second half was also most fortunate.

Beckham, and Eriksson, have had their share of bad luck with injuries, of course, but the red card the former should have seen on Saturday at least spared the latter a decision he may feel necessary soon: dropping Beckham.

Even considering such a thought sounds vaguely heretical. Beckham is undoubtedly a remarkable footballer whose work ethic is admirable, but it is more than a year since his huge solo performance against Greece. In that time he has acquired a petulance which verged on canadagoosejacketoutlett the irresponsible here. His contribution, that 65th-minute fluke free-kick aside, was minimal.

Gary Neville joked that the pitch was of such Sunday league standard that the players thought they might be getting changed in cars, and that affected Beckham, Nicky Butt, Steven Gerrard and Paul Scholes in an error-strewn first half. But the most influential midfielder canada goose coat 1000 bulbs in the game, Miroslav Karhan, managed to weave his way over it.

Kieron Dyer did not have sufficient time to imprint himself on the soft Slovak turf but he canada goose coat – kensington would be a viable alternative to Beckham on the right. He is, moreover, in better form at club level and is arguably a more versatile footballer. He possesses pace and dribbling ability which Beckham displays but rarely.

St Mary’s at Southampton will offer a very different kind of surface on Wednesday against Macedonia. It may be that Beckham will thrive against opposition beaten 5-0 by Slovakia not so long ago, but that will not negate the point about his lack of thrust in Bratislava.

He was not alone, though. Gerrard endured the game rather than dominated it and, as Eriksson said, “the distance between midfield and attack was too large”. The Swede must bear some responsibility for that.

It has long appeared obvious that a rigid 4-4-2 formation offers too little variety to best canada goose jacket reddit a group of players who are shoehorned into it. Moving Scholes from left midfield to the hole behind Michael Owen and whoever partners him – Emile Heskey here – has seemed an equally obvious solution.

Eriksson recognised this at half-time and England immediately looked a more balanced and potent team. “He wanted us to be more relaxed,” Gareth Southgate said of the coach’s interval restructuring. “He said we needed to be more patient, not to try average price for a canada goose jacket to get the ball forward so quickly.”

The pass-and-move philosophy soon had a dividend. In the 58th minute England put together their best moment of the match and there would have been nothing fortuitous had Owen scored from an angle rather than dragging his shot wide. Scholes had accepted Gerrard’s midfield prompt in a Beardsleyesque position and ferried the ball to Heskey, who best canada goose jacket review in turn found Owen.

Eriksson may have stressed patience but there was a controlled urgency about that move and therein lies the answer for England. Too often they have one without the other.

That was the case in the first half when England defended so deeply canada goose coat 1000 bulbs led and in such numbers that when the ball was cleared it kept coming back.

In the 19th minute Nemeth undid Southgate for the first time and Gerrard almost diverted the shot beyond David Seaman. Southgate may find himself replaced for the Macedonia game by Sol Campbell, who average cost canada goose jacket joined up with the squad yesterday after recovering from a stomach virus.

Working diligently, Gerrard was then defending when Vladimir Janocko squeezed past him five minutes later. The buy canada goose jacket toronto ball appeared to canada goose coat 1000 bulbs led be going out but Janocko wrapped a foot around it. His cross went to the far post, Attila Pinte headed it back and Nemeth swept it in from six yards.

England’s response was not cohesive and it was not until the 39th minute that the Slovak goalkeeper Miroslav Konig made his first save. It came from a Southgate header after a Scholes cross.

The next Scholes cross was the one he made to the middle of the park. There was no revolutionary transformation and Nemeth was still causing problems but England began to play.

The foul awarded for Beckham’s equalising free-kick was dubious, however. From 35 yards Beckham swung the ball towards goal, hoping for a flick. It never came despite Owen’s presence but, as with the Gianfranco Zola free-kick that beat Seaman recently, the goalkeeper was stranded by the bounce.

There remained a buying a canada goose jacket online depressing element of percentage football about England’s play after that but when the persistent Heskey worried Peter Hlinka, allowing Scholes to nip in and whip the ball to the near post, Owen supplied the winner with his head. For once England’s second half had improved on their first.

“I think we’d have taken a draw at half-time,” said Neville. “We’ve got to thank our lucky stars and move on.”

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