Swedish boss backs Irish management team

Sweden coach Lars Lagerback has given his blessing to the Republic of Ireland’s managerial ‘dream ticket’ of Steve Staunton and Bobby Robson.

Lagerback enjoyed a successful partnership with Tommy Soderling for many years, before the latter retired following Euro 2004.

The duo led Sweden to three major successive championships, starting with Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup finals and then onto Portugal two years ago.

Described as theorist and practitioner, the mild-mannered Soderberg bonded with players on the training ground, while the more stern and intellectual-looking Lagerback provided the tactical input.

It would be unfair to draw comparisons at this stage with Staunton and Robson, who today enjoyed their first training session together six weeks after being officially unveiled.

But ahead of Wednesday’s friendly at Lansdowne Road between the two sides, Lagerback and Soderling have proved a double act can work.

Lagerback, now on his own and after taking the Swedes to the World Cup finals this summer, said: “I think experience is good in all kinds of coaching.

“They appointed somebody young who lacks experience in Staunton, but then they have someone very experienced alongside him in Bobby.

“It’s not easy for me to say whether they will be a success because I don’t know them personally, but their partnership certainly looks good on paper.”

However, any suggestion Lagerback had singled out this friendly as preparation for the World Cup group clash with England in Germany is wide of the mark.

“We decided on this game before the draw was made for the finals, so it’s nothing to do with England,” added agerback.

“Obviously there are similarities between the two countries, mainly as the Irish side is made up of players from the Premier League and their second division [Championship].

“The most important thing for us is that Ireland are a quality team for us to play against as we look towards the World Cup, and they always take their friendlies seriously.”

The match represents the first meeting since another Lansdowne Road friendly almost seven years ago when Ireland ran out 2-0 winners, with goals from Graham Kavanagh and Mark Kennedy

Lagerback has a strong squad to choose from, notably with Barcelona and former Celtic star Henrik Larsson and Zlatan Ibrahimovic from Juventus forming the frontline.

However, the Swedes are without Arsenal winger Freddie Ljungberg, with Lagerback explaining: “Freddie has bleeding in his right calf muscle and looks like he could be out for a week.”

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