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Old 14-05-2012, 09:59 PM
POL POL is offline
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Senior Analysis
Posts: 42,519

poor stevie
Originally Posted by KD Langer View Post

I think Rooney has the potential to be a great midfield player
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Old 13-10-2019, 11:13 AM
LarryDavid LarryDavid is offline
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Join Date: Aug 2019
Posts: 4,951

Good interview with Sven. Comes across as a nice fella

Sven-Goran Eriksson: Fergie shouted down the phone ‘I will kill you. You are finished’

Sven-Goran Eriksson reflects on rifts with Sir Alex, his private life and why England failed at the 2006 World Cup

Jonathan Northcroft, Football correspondent, The Sunday Timeshen he phoned. One of those Fergie calls. “With Alex, the amazing thing was it was seven o’clock in the morning or earlier. Always. When he was angry,” Sven says. “And never ‘Hello Sven, how are you?’ It was ‘whuurssshhhh’ [straight into yelling]. I thought he should kill me. He said, ‘I will kill you. You are finished.’ But I represented England and you have to stand up.

“What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong and when you say ‘Don’t pick Rooney because I’m going to kill you’ . . . I said, ‘F*** off, what’s going on with you?’

Eriksson took over as England manager in 2001
Eriksson took over as England manager in 2001
“And he was screaming. Whenever he got like that . . . it has no meaning. That’s why I was, ‘Alex, I will pick Rooney. Now, have a nice holiday. Ciao, bye.’” He mimes putting down a phone.

We’re at Sven’s home on the shore of Lake Fryken in western Sweden, a 16th- century country house where Selma Lagerlof, a Nobel Laureate, wrote a famous novel. The study she worked in is now Sven’s marbled bathroom.

On his land, there’s a cottage for his brother and a summer house where live an Afghan refugee family he took in after an appeal by the local church.

The female company is Ame, his rather adorable golden labradoodle. Together, they’ll go running by the waters later. He is in ridiculous nick for a man approaching 72.

Still “crazy” for football, he watches the games and training sessions of nearby teams, Sunne and Torsby — where his father, 91, makes coffee for the players. He devours Premier League games on big screens in his tasteful lounge, gym and swimming pool. Not a bad life, although he misses working, having left his last post — Philippines manager — in January.

His, I believe, is an undervalued career. “Thank you,” he says, agreeing that the trail he blazed as the young manager who won the Uefa Cup with part-time Gothenburg has become a little obscured. As have the European Cup final and Portuguese trophy sweep with Benfica, and six honours in three seasons with Lazio, including a scudetto.

Obscured — in Britain at least — by the coverage he attracted while managing England which involved a focus on his love life, and girlfriends from Nancy Dell’Olio and Ulrika Jonsson, that he never understood.

Is he overlooked football-wise? “Yes, of course,” he says. “I mean, maybe it is stupid to go out with a couple of women but I was not married, I did it in Italy. And I think I am very normal. So it is a pity I am famous because of that.”

He was 31 when he took over Gothenburg, with ideas different to other Swedish bosses. They followed a German playing model: sweeper system, patient build-up. Sven sided with the Englishmen who were revolutionising Scandinavian football — Malmo’s Bob Houghton and Halmstad’s Roy Hodgson.

Eriksson during his time as Gothenburg manager
Eriksson during his time as Gothenburg manager
Bob and Roy were 4-4-2, long ball, high press. Sven refined their style and won his first trophy exactly 40 years ago: the Swedish Cup, Gothenburg winning the final 6-1. The league followed, then that Uefa Cup. Gothenburg’s scorer in the home leg of the final was a plumber, Tord Holmgren, who had done a shift that morning from 7am.

Glenn Hysen remembers a manager who worked meticulously on the training pitch but spoke minimally in the dressing room. “Yes,” says Sven. “You know in Sweden, even in school it is very democratic. In Swedish you can say ‘you’ two ways. If you are older, famous, it is ‘ni’ not ‘du’, but they took that away in school when I was young.

“If my style is typically Swedish, I don’t know. But I never shouted in all my life at players and I never did it at my children. With England, every time we lost I was ‘not passion’. But I tried to say we won a lot of games when I was the same.”

Experiences in Portugal and Italy modified his approach. There, he managed stars such as Ruud Gullit, Roberto Baggio, Falcao. “At Gothenburg it was about the system but when I came outside I realised if you have extremely good football players, you make the system around them.”

He agreed to manage England in a meeting at David Dein’s daughter’s apartment in Rome. Where to start?

Lampard and Gerrard? “I sometimes asked them, ‘Can you play together?’ But they always said it was okay.” Lowest moment? “Losing in Northern Ireland. Beckham in the middle, never again.” Michael Owen? “I loved him as a person but he could never train regularly.” Wayne Rooney? “At 17 he was incredible. Then he lost his pace a little. But every time I hear the critics I think, ‘Bloody hell.’”

Eriksson at his home in Sweden
Eriksson at his home in Sweden
Or a wide question. The sides he took to tournament quarter-finals in 2002, 2004 and 2006: which was best? “2006. I couldn’t — still can’t — see any team better than England in that World Cup. We were unlucky with Rooney [being sent off against Portugal] but in my time the pressure was too high. The expectation when you went to those tournaments — you win and if you don’t win it’s s***. And too much talk about the Golden Generation. They were good but other teams had good players too.

“That, and penalties, was England’s problem. My biggest regret is not taking a mental coach [to Germany] but I was very confident and convinced [England would win]. I remember Roberto Mancini phoned me, he said, ‘Sven, I’m putting my money on England’ and I told him, ‘You are right.’

“We didn’t play well the whole tournament. It was like we were waiting for something. I thought if we play a better team, we will play better — and we did. Our best game was Portugal, 10 v 11.”

A constant challenge was boredom. “One of the biggest surprises was that English players have to be entertained. Always. Italian footballers can take a coffee and sit for two hours talking, laughing. English players, no.

“I remember one of the first away games, Beckham came and said, ‘Tomorrow afternoon we have no training. Can we go shopping?’ I said ‘Shopping? Football players — shopping?!’ He said, ‘Yeah, we go to the mall.’
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Old 13-10-2019, 11:14 AM
LarryDavid LarryDavid is offline
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“The World Cup in Japan . . . when I went to see [the hotel] they explained, ‘This is the playing room.’ I said, ‘What do you mean, the playing room? Don’t we play outside?’ They said no. The playing room. And it was amazing what the FA had done. It was like going to Las Vegas. I said, ‘But this is for children.’ They said, ‘But they [the players] are children.’ Incredible.”

He was “proud every day, happy every day” to lead England — yet held talks with Manchester United and Chelsea while in the post. He would deny being mercenary: he rejected Chelsea, after all, and United was simply that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. From them, he didn’t ask for more money — just his England terms.

“That one was done,” he says. Peter Kenyon and Maurice Watkins negotiated the deal. Pini Zahavi, the agent, claims to still have the contract. It fell through after Ferguson decided not to retire. “My relationship with Alex was very good, in one way.” Sven smiles. “Privately, we had dinner, we went to events, talked about everything. But when you came to the job, for example friendly games, England . . . he was absolutely furious.

“You remember the Rio Ferdinand case? [The FA suspended Ferdinand for a missed drugs test]. Alex was, ‘If you don’t pick Rio you will not ever have any Manchester United players again.’ But I have huge respect. Because of what he has done — and because Alex is a nice man.

“But you know something? I met him three times as a coach and must be the only one in the world, three meetings and three wins. Lazio in the Super Cup and Manchester City twice. First time, in Monaco, ‘Congratulations Sven.’ Second time, ‘Meeeh.’ Third time, Carlos Queiroz appears. ‘Sorry, Alex has a meeting.’”

Post 2006, “I don’t feel fulfilled. I did some bad choices, I suppose.” Mexico, trusting Thaksin Shinawatra at Manchester City, being conned by fantastist owners at Notts County . . . he should have known when they paid him not in cash but bonds.

“I’d work again,” he says. “It is not about money, not about whether it’s United or City. It’s about the right thing but in Europe they want younger coaches. Asia — grey hair or no hair is still very popular. So maybe there again.”

Yet if there is no next job he is fine — more than fine — here by Fryken’s still, glassy waters. “I’m selling my house in Barbados, I have an apartment in Las Palmas, my girlfriend lives in Panama,” he says. “So I’m OK.”

His legacy? “Gothenburg I know. Benfica, Roma, Lazio — I know. England? I don’t. But I don’t know if [legacy] interests me. Honest. Good worker. Winning now and then. That’s enough.”

What could a young coach learn from his career? As Ame nudges Sven’s shoes, he smiles. “Well, I think if you’re going to be successful in whatever in life, you have to put everything you have into it. And I did that.

“It was not even a discussion what the wife wanted. Moving here, moving there. That is one of the reasons I am divorced. It cost me probably the family. My marriage, many years ago, was a date in July. It was prepared months before: the church, the priest, the people coming. Two weeks before, I got a letter from the Swedish federation saying you have been accepted for the last course as a coach. They took in 10 every year. I was 28, 29.

“So I went home. I said, problem. And she [Anki] got extremely upset. Crying, screaming. Phoning her father and mother. I said if I don’t take this chance I have to wait two or three years.

“She said I should put the question, that bloody course or me, but I will not.

“And so we married — later.”
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