Sven the Fox?

Thumbs up for Sven?

Thumbs up for Sven?

There’s a knowing sneer to the reports that Sven-Goran Eriksson is in talks with Leicester City for the manager’s job. There here is again. Brazenly touting himself like a football management prostitute. How has Sven come to be regarded as a joke? Does he really deserve such contempt?

Sure his England reign imploded, mired in sex scandals and a disappointing exit from the World Cup. The recent sojourn at Notts County was just plain bizarre. But I can only think that it’s familiarity which has bred the unjustified contempt which predominates. His record certainly doesn’t merit this view.

Under Sven England qualified for tournaments with relative ease. A record which the likes of Graham Taylor and Steve McLaren would be pleased to have. Qualification was invariably followed by a quarter final appearance. Apart from Sir Alf Ramsey there isn’t a manager who can lay claim to a similar tournament record. Sure Robson reached the semi’s in Italia ‘90 but his copy book was blotted by failure’s at Euro’s 84 and 88.

Sven’s club record is also incomparable to any English manager working today. League titles in three different countries and European silverware to go alongside that. However, all that was achieved outside the UK and our insular attitudes seem to preclude acknowledging those achievements.

It looked as if he might be on the way to rehabilitating his reputation in this country at Manchester City after leading them to their highest finish in years. However, he found himself the victim of the whims of the club’s then chairman who curtailed his reign.

We also seem to have fatally misunderstood Eriksson’s management style. Derided for being in hock to celebrity of the players he was supposed to be in charge of. We’ve overlooked the method to Eriksson’s approach.

Players rule and managers no longer wield the omnipotent power of old. As an international manager you have even less authority over players. We saw in the South Africa what happened when Capello tried to assert draconian authority over his players.

Eriksson understood that the dynamics of the relationship between manager and player in the modern game. You might find it distasteful, but he wanted to get close to the players and befriend them. That was his plan and by and large it worked.

I can’t pretend Eriksson is a candidate for sainthood. He clearly likes a pound note. And he is a serial flirt when comes to the possibility of a new, better paid, job. But is it really fair to hold that against the man? Is he any worse than most players?

Sven has an exemplary track record. It can therefore be no surprise that his name is so frequently linked with jobs. The fact he’s regarded with sniggering derision in this country says more about our expectations of a football manager than it does about Eriksson’s abilities.

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4 Comments on “Sven the Fox?

  1. I agree with much of the above. Sven will always be remembered as the sex hungry spineless manager who wasted the “golden generation”. But his record for England is still up there with the best and the McClaren reign showed that Sven knew how to manage egos and get results.

    His early spells in Italy were also successful. Winning two Coppa Italia’s with Roma and Fiorentina (when the cup meant something) and then winning Lazio’s second ever SerieA title the last ever Cup Winners Cup and another Coppa Italia. He did a good job at City and though he does chase the pound I think he did a very honourbale thing at Notts County by staying on unpaid when he knew he had been duped.

    Unrated? Not sure but he knows how to manage big ego’s to (some) success better than a lot of other managers.

    • Far from “squandering” the “golden generation”.., Eriksson created it. Any doubts about that will be answered by how they crashed out of qualifying for Euro2008 without him?
      Approaching 30 major league and international club trophies, several all time records set for England including the most international points won and fastest rise up the FIFA world rankings under any previous coach. All in a tenure that saw ONLY five competitive games lost 2001 – 2006, followed by the join all time record number of premier league points won in a single season with Man City.
      Sven is ranked by TheFA as statistically Englands most successful coach while Sir Alf remains “the best” due to that “lucky” event in 1966 within an otherwise fairly lack lustre period for England. Sven is also ranked No.5 in the all time hall of fame with no currently active coach/manager above him.
      Only those who exclusively look at the hype in the down market newspapers instead of the record books and fan and player acclaim could think that our Sven is anything other than a fantastic asset to any team?
      Any one for Svennis?

  2. Excellent blog, echoes a lot of my sentiments towards Sven. Forget the scandalous headlines, he is an extremely good football manager.

    • @Bobby A:
      Sven won significant damages for one “scandalous” and totally invented “headline” and true to form donated the total amount to charity. That story has become part of his mythology and still dogs him to this day however! “Red top rag pays dearly for it’s lies” sells no extra papers while “Phoney Arab stings Sven” adds to newspaper circulation. Anyone who actually read the transcripts of the “Sven sting” (including ALL his then team and emplyers) will have seen what a non-story it related. Sven being his normal, polite NON-commital old self while words were desparately tried to be put in his mouth…..
      The “scandal” has been either invented or totally overblown and everyone who has known and worked with (or for) Sven have nothing but praise and admiration for him as witnessed by the autobiographies of many ex-players and unstinting accolaids from past colleagues, and club executives and the more fair minded UK pundits and all of the world wide soccer press.
      The image of Eriksson that some within the down market media attempt to create or perpetuate is not something that those who actually know him recognise.

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