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Beckham storm 'no problem' for Sven
Updated: 2004-04-16 11:10

David Beckham will be 'very focussed' when he plays for England at Euro 2004, England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson said.

The Swede was asked about the media storm which has surrounded the England captain over his private life in the past two weeks at a fans' forum at the Football Association's headquarters in London.

Eriksson said: 'I have spoken to him several times, as I normally do. He's okay. I suppose he could have done without this, but there we are.

'When he pulls on the England shirt, he will be very focussed on what to do. It will be no problem.'

Afterwards Eriksson said: 'If he doesn't have a good tournament, the only reason will be fitness level, injuries or whatever.'

Eriksson was accompanied by his assistant Tord Grip and FA executive director David Davies for a question and answer session with England fans, including representatives of supporters' groups.

Eriksson took a veiled swipe at the press when he was asked his view after both he and Beckham have been propelled on to the front pages in coverage of their private lives.

He said: 'The fact is that football needs the press and the press needs football.

'The press in this country is very powerful, and as long as they talk about football, if they criticise, I have to accept it.

'What I have never understood in this country is the huge interest in your private life, and I have to accept it because I can't do anything about it, but I never understood it.

'In the country I am from, Sweden, and in Italy, it was about football, not your private life. It's much better to be on the back page than the front page.'

At the question and answer session, he stopped short of urging fans to behave at Euro 2004, which starts in Portugal in June.

He will have been very aware that the fans at the meeting were decent supporters who would not cause trouble.

Afterwards he told reporters: 'If the thousands and thousands behave in the same way as the people here, it will be very good.'

European football's governing body, UEFA, has threatened to expel England from the tournament if there is any repeat of past hooliganism.

Eriksson told reporters: 'It will be a small disaster if we leave early for football reasons, it would be a real disaster if we do so for other reasons.'

Eriksson was asked about England's chances in the tournament, and said: 'England can win, I always believe that, and we have shown it many times, especially in competitive games, and I always say that if we are lucky, all the players are fit, no injuries, I think we can beat anyone.'

He issued an unexpected apology for the players not acknowledging the fans in Sweden at the friendly last month.

Asked about it, he said: 'I'm sure it's true, there is absolutely no excuse, I will not try to find an excuse for that. It shouldn't happen. I can promise you it will never happen again. I'm sorry.'

He said there would be a similar preparation this time to that for the 2002 World Cup, over three weeks before the tournament starts.

So far, he knew 20 or 21 of the 23 names he would pick, so there was still some room for players trying to get into the squad, he said.

Eriksson revealed he was glad the team were not playing any friendlies in April as they had no winter break and played too much football.

And he defended his practice of making multiple substitutions in friendly matches, saying it was good to give the players rest.

'If a player plays on a Sunday afternoon, and then is due to play again on a Saturday at 12 noon, I cannot defend making him play for 90 minutes in a friendly in between the games, because I don't think it's fair for the players,' he said.

'It's good to see them for 45 minutes, then they should rest.'

Asked who England's main rivals would be in Euro 2004, he said France, against whom England play in Lisbon on June 13.

'France are angry with themselves about the last World Cup,' he said.

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