Sven-Göran Eriksson has described his year out of football as the most stressful of his career and vowed that he can handle the challenge of resurrecting Manchester City as a force in English football.
The former England boss, installed as manager on Friday by City’s new Thai owners, has been out of work since England’s quarter-final exit from the 2006 World Cup, his hopes of landing a major club job having been hit by a perception that he did not get the most out of David Beckham and co. in Germany.
But with a managerial CV that includes titles in Sweden and Portugal as well as an Italian league and cup double, Eriksson believes he is right to be confident about his ability to turn City’s fortunes around.
“I have never worked in the Premier League before so I don’t know if I have to prove myself or not,” he said.
“I know what I have done in the past and I am looking forward to an exciting job and an exciting season.
“Every time you are a coach, you have pressure whatever team it is. I hope I will have a big pressure as that means I am at a big football club.
“Manchester City is a big club. It is the Premier League – I think it is the best league in the world and if you get an opportunity to work in it you should take it and I did.”
Eriksson revealed that he had turned down several offers of employment over the last year in the hope that a club of City’s size would eventually come along.
But he rejected a suggestion that the new post gave him an opportunity to make a point to those behind the critical mauling he received in the aftermath of Germany 2006.
“I’m not made like that. I don’t feel that I have to have revenge or things like that,” he said.
“I know myself. I know what I’ve done in my years in England and outside England. You cannot take that away from me. I want to be judged on football results, I want to be judged as a football manager. It’s good to feel the stress. It’s good to feel the pressure. I feel much better then.”
His enforced sabbatical had, he said, only increased his appetite for the game.
“You can be quite sure that I still have the same hunger, especially when you are living one year without football,” he said. “That is the most stressful time I have had in my life.”
Eriksson expects to make a number of changes to the playing staff at City but would not reveal how much of a transfer budget new owner Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Thai premier, had made available.
“I don’t think I should care to speak about money,” he said.
“I can promise you will see new faces in the squad and the team when the Premier League starts. Let’s wait until the middle of August and you will see. It’s a big, big club and I think a lot of football players around the world would like to play for Manchester City, especially as they know this club will be bigger and bigger.”
City’s playing resources have been stretched to near breaking point following the departures of Joey Barton and former captain Sylvain Distin already this summer.
But Eriksson insisted there were still some quality players on the books and a good stream from the club’s youth development programme.
“The squad is good, I think. One thing I think is very, very good is that we have six players from the academy in the squad. That’s important, That’s something to build on for the future.”
This year’s Allsvenskan remains tighter than an old school Italian back-line.
Halmstad are the latest to stake their claim to the title after a solid 3-0 win away to Örebro.
Djurgården, Kalmar and Elfsborg are all within two points of the leaders with Kalmar set to rise to the top if they can defeat Hammarby on Wednesday.
So much for mild-mannered Swedes – two of the most hot-tempered players at this year’s tournament were Jonas Björkman and Robin Söderling.
It was Björkman’s misfortune that he was playing his fourth round match against Tomas Berdych out on Court 18 where human fallibility, rather than HawkEye technology, was the order of the day.
The veteran Swede let loose a foul-mouthed tirade at umpire James Keothavong who over-ruled a call made on the far side of the court with Berdych facing a break point at 2-3, 30-40 in the third set.
Björkman screamed: ‘You suck’ to the official before screaming in Swedish:
‘I’m so bloody tired of you. It’s not the first time you have ruined it for me’.
Björkman, a 2006 semi-finalist and normally one of the sport’s most mild-mannered characters, was still fuming when he appeared at his press conference and bemoaned the lack of HawkEye on the outside courts.
“Obviously it’s all about money,” said Björkman.
“It’s not cheap to have HawkEye. But two courts is maybe not enough in a Grand Slam.
“He made a horrendous call. There’s a lot of guys out there who are trying sometimes to make sure that everyone can see them on the court when everything goes well. You don’t have to interrupt the game. All of a sudden they try to be in the picture.
“A 133 mile an hour serve wide on the far end, you shouldn’t even go in there. He felt he needed to do that. That’s just unfortunate.”
Rafael Nadal meanwhile hit out at Wimbledon organizers after seeing his chances of dethroning Roger Federer compromised by a marathon and ill-tempered third-round clash with Robin Söderling.
The five-set battle, repeatedly delayed by rain, was finally concluded on Wednesday, four days after the players began warming up on Court One.
The water torture finally came to an end for Nadal when he broke the Swedish number one’s dogged resistance with a break in the 12th game of the fifth set to go through, 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (7/9), 4-6, 7-5.
Resuming at 4-4 in the fifth on Wednesday, Nadal failed to capitalize on four more match points before Söderling finally handed him victory by missing an overhead smash then overcooking a forehand.
After three rain breaks on Monday, Tuesday was to prove even more frustrating with the players managing just two brief spells on court in between torrential downpours.
And the frustration appeared to have an impact on Nadal’s composure with the Spaniard clearly infuriated by his opponent’s on-court conduct, which included a mocking imitation of the world number two’s habit of picking at his pirate pants as part of his pre-service routine.
Nadal also accused his opponent of being unsporting in failing to acknowledge his good fortune when shots clipped the top of the net or show any concern when he had fallen heavily.
“For the other players, he is not the best guy in the locker room,” Nadal claimed.
Söderling was reluctant to get drawn into post-match recriminations but shrugged off the accusation of a lack of sportsmanship. “If my opponent gets a lucky shot and doesn’t say sorry, I don’t care. Why should I say sorry? It’s just bullshit.”
In form Swede Niclas Fasth continued his fine season with a second place finish at the European Open in Ireland at the weekend.
Fasth came in second, one shot adrift of Colin Montgomerie.
The Swede can take comfort from his performance after playing the entire tournament with a heavy cold which led to him experiencing dizzy spells at times.
He also wobbled on the back nine with consecutive bogeys but a birdie on the 16th set him up for a tilt at victory with Monty already in the clubhouse.
But he could not improve on his score on the 17th after his tee shot fell to within 15 feet of the hole.
As he moved towards the 18th the gods deemed he was not the chosen one with a crash of thunder that led to a second suspension of play.
When he resumed he hit a six iron to within 20 feet of the hole. His putt was perfectly weighted but an inch right and Monty was the champion.
Most notable among the third-place group was leader at the half way stage, Sweden’s Pelle Edberg.
Battling for a Tour card next year, the virtual unknown followed up his decent performance in last week’s French Open with a composed 66.