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 March 27, 2002 | 1355 IST

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Eriksson helped by distance from England

Sven-Goran Eriksson's success with England has been helped by the fact that he is a foreigner, according to Gareth Southgate.

The Middlesbrough defender believes the Swedish manager has been able to cut through some of the emotion of representing England and focus solely on players and tactics.

"Perhaps the nationalistic pride of playing for England, because of him being from another country, hasn't been at the forefront of his thinking," Southgate told reporters as he prepared for Wednesday night's friendly against Italy in Leeds.

"We are all very proud to play for England, that goes without saying, but every other country also feels that way. What we've got to do is play better than the rest of them and produce performances that are going to get results.

"I think he's been able to distinguish a little bit more comfortably than people have in the past."

Eriksson, England's first foreign manager, guided the team into the World Cup finals after all had seemed lost under Kevin Keegan and two caretaker coaches.

Southgate has no doubt England are in better shape today than they were two years ago heading for the European championships, having scraped into the event following a playoff with old rivals Scotland.

"It's natural to go into tournaments with high expectations and I think a country of our stature within football should do that anyway," Southgate said.


But he added: "With the performances over the last year and the players that are coming through I would certainly feel a lot more confident going into this tournament than the last one -- where our performances leading into it and our qualification were very difficult.

"Spirit has always been good...but form is evident to everybody and I don't think you can fool people who watch the games...I don't think the form and the confidence of the team was there going into Euro 2000."

Southgate sees Eriksson as one of the new breed of more analytical bosses in English football, rather than one to go in for halftime tirades.

"I think that style of coaching has changed a little bit at the top level. Obviously the boys at (Manchester) United might say differently," he quipped, referring to the more vocal Alex Ferguson.

"But if you look at the top of the premier league, with the coaches involved, it's a more studious form of analysing games and not reacting to things immediately as they happen.

"Just flying off the handle at people isn't always constructive."

As for himself, Southgate clearly hopes he will be picked for the World Cup squad, and then play in South Korea and Japan. However, he is also well aware of the importance of being a non-playing member of the England camp.

Sitting in a marquee in the grounds of the England hotel, Southgate said: "Every player in that hotel thinks they're the best in their position, and if they don't, then they probably shouldn't be here anyway. I'm no different in that respect."

But he added: "If you're not in the starting 11 you've got to play a role within the squad. When you go to a tournament, there will be players who won't get to play or players who might play only a very small part. But their contribution is just as important."

Echoing Eriksson's reluctance to take any whingers to the finals, Southgate said: "If you mope around and sulk while you're away with the team, that can have a very detrimental effect on the squad.

"And we are there for the team to win. Personal glory or personal performance is not as important as the team winning."

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