England team’s tactics passed to Sweden before game by spying journalist
Forget shambolic defending or the absence of Wayne Rooney, it emerged today that Swedish espionage and a humble curtain very nearly put paid to England’s Euro 2012 hopes last Friday evening.
Ola Billger, of Svenksa Dagbladet newspaper, was in his hotel room in Krakow on the eve of the England-Sweden game when he realised his vantage point allowed him to see across the road in to the England team’s planning room.
After scrambling for a pair of binoculars, Billger soon hit the tabloid sports journalist jackpot: witnessing England manager Roy Hodgson draw up his starting eleven and show his team exactly how to go about dismantling the Swedes in Kiev.
The pesky Peeping Tom said: “We were not able to hear anything but it was clear England were talking about how to run through the Swedish defence and how Sweden would attack through corners.
“It was also clear through videos and the tactics board what the lineup would be, with Carroll starting and Oxlade-Chamberlain not.”
“We had a great story for our paper and, of course, we called the Swedish FA for a comment and shared what we’d found.”
The mini dossier on the Three Lions’ masterplan was duly passed on to Sweden’s assistant manager Reine Almquist who hasd no qualms gleefully embracing the underhand advantage.
Billger said: “I took a picture and told Reine. He was delighted.”
OTP bets he was. The embarrassing privacy breach – an unobstructed view into the England camp via a skylight – was acknowledged yesterday by Club England managing director Adrian Bevington.
The FA official said: “(The journalist) read the team board and so was able to see some of the plans that we had in place.
“I can’t say it’s something that’s causing us great consternation in the England camp.
“It certainly wasn’t a security breach and it didn’t affect the result thankfully.”
Although the England victory on Friday night makes the debacle somewhat academic, it’s impossible not to revisit the game to see where Zlatan Ibrahimovich and co put their inside information to good use.
England’s line-up and revolutionary 4-4-2 formation was pretty common knowledge come match time, but the tactical edge might partly explain why Olof Mellberg was able to rise unmarked for his second goal of the night.
There’s quite a few advanced solutions to preventing this cock-up happening again – moving camp, having security scan the surrounding area at all hours and getting Roy Hodgson to talk in code. Or alternatively, just draw the curtain, eh lads?
Image: Tom Rydquist