'World Cup chances won't be harmed'

January 24, 2006

Former England defender Terry Butcher insists England's chances at the 2006 World Cup will not be affected by the impending departure of Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The England manager will leave his post following this summer's tournament in Germany after comments he made to an undercover Sunday newspaper reporter.

Talks with the Football Association yesterday led to an agreement which will see the end of the Swede's five-year tenure.

It mirrors the experiences of Sir Bobby Robson and Terry Venables, who led England to the semi-finals of the 1990 World Cup and Euro 96 respectively, in the knowledge they would not be in the job following the tournament,

However, Butcher - who played under Robson - is adamant England's chances of success have not been damaged.

He told BBC Radio Five Live: 'I think the whole thing of serialisation has made it come to a head.

'Brian Barwick and the FA have made a statement, they've come to an agreement and everybody moves on.

'All these people getting carried away with the fact that it will harm our chances - absolute tosh. The only thing that will harm our chances is if Wayne Rooney gets injured.'

Instead the Motherwell boss believes the news will have a positive effect as it galvanised and united the squad ahead of Italia 90.

'It made everybody stick together, it had really had us focused that we wanted to do well for the gaffer in his last tournament,' Butcher added.

'There were a lot of players there who were playing in their last World Cup, a lot of older players.

'In this squad there is only really probably Sol Campbell, Gary Neville and David Beckham that could be playing in their last World Cup. The others have still got plenty of World Cups and European Championships to go for after this but they will want to make it a special one for Sven-Goran Eriksson.

'I think it will have a positive impact. It's early days yet - it's only January and the squad doesn't meet until March for the next friendly which will be a good get together and they will be really focused and I think it can only have a positive effect.'

Butcher was known as an uncompromising player and renowned for his bulldog spirit and admits, like any other patriot, he would love to be involved.

However, he does not believe the job should be limited only to English applicants.

'Everybody would love to do that, everybody would love to manage England and play a part in it. Whether it would be in the warm-up, in the coaching, to be a kitman. Everybody would love to be a part of it because we are so proud of our country but not everybody can do that.

'But I just think looking at a foreign manager coming in - Sven-Goran Eriksson was great at the time, he was the right man at the right time when he came in and it may be the case that someone like Arsene Wenger could be asked to do the job in the future.

'Is anybody going to say 'Arsene Wenger doesn't stand on the touchline and raise his hands and has less passion'.

'He gets the job done and ultimately that is all England fans should be concerned about, England winning.'

Butcher's views were echoed by Don Howe, who worked as assistant under the Ron Greenwood, Robson and Venables.

He also believed the England squad's preparations and performance at the World Cup would be unaffected.

Howe told The Guardian: 'I worked with three England managers who all said they would be leaving before the tournament we went in to started.

'Ron Greenwood told everyone before the 1982 World Cup in Spain that he was retiring there and were unbeaten.

'Bobby took over and before the World Cup in Italy he told everyone that he was going to PSV, `that's it, I've done it, and I am off'.

'Terry Venables did exactly the same. He decided before Euro 96 he wanted let the FA get on with it.

'In all three cases at no point did I think there were one or two here not giving it everything.

'They were fantastic. Players are more concerned with the playing and winning. They will listen to the man in charge and that's that.'