ENGLAND – Algarve holiday

THE ENGLAND party enjoyed their team-building pre-World Cup stay in Vale do Lobo last week, although the value and timing of the exercise must be questioned.

David Beckham arrived late, as the Spanish league programme did not finish until Tuesday night, while Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole’s Champions League commitment precluded their presence altogether. Steven Gerrard preferred to stay at home, Wayne Rooney had to do so. The remaining players were busy dodging the paparazzi, who took up residency in nearby apartments, some photographers even being flushed out of strategically located trees by security personnel. Still, enough material was gathered for several double-page spreads in the tabloids back home. And then there was Sven, the leader of the expedition. The Swede was seen at an open training session attended by up to 2,000 residents and tourists; but if the Portuguese press is to be believed, the England manager spent the remainder of the week closeted away plotting his future with half of the Benfica board. Whereas the interest from a club he has already managed twice in the past must be flattering, should Mr. Eriksson not conduct his job hunting on his own time? With only two weeks remaining to kick-off it is also high time that the England squad got down to some serious work instead of lazing around in the sunshine.