It be foolhardy to suggest that Thaksin Shinawatra knows more than the average football fan. He might know how to make money, and avoid going to jail, but in terms of pure footballing knowledge he would be more Macca than Rafa, if you catch my drift.
But the Manchester City owner does not consider Mr Eriksson to be the ‘right man’ for the job. That raises a host of interesting questions, such as:
Did Shinawatra really do his research last summer or did he just hire the most high-profile, unemployed, english-speaking manager available on the market?
On evidence, the latter seems more likely. Eriksson, before taking over at Manchester City, was slightly more popular than Steve McClaren and that’s no criteria for a manager taking over a club with the ambitions of Manchester City. It’s quite likely that TS found out about Sven’s reputation and history AFTER the season started. And since the season started well, there was no reason to raise any objections but now that they’ve sort of backtracked on their start of the season progress (although the overall progress this season from last year is quite emphatic and laudable), the knife is out.
Have City progressed under Eriksson?
Yes, and expect them to do better next year. They might not get that double against Manchester United but with a striker and with the new players more at home next season, this team will score more and be more solid in the middle of the park, and that could be the difference between sitting at home on Thursday nights and playing in Europe.
Regardless of one’s view of Eriksson’s man-management and tactical skills, both the manager and the team are in the top-half of the league on merit and on this season’s evidence, are there to stay.
There’s always the competition though. Everton, Tottenham and Newcastle United are again expected to push for Europe next year and you can add Portsmouth and Aston Villa to the mix depending on how their summer dealings go. That’s 5 teams vying for the 5th and 6th spots in the league table and you’ll inevitably have sides that aren’t able to qualify for Europe every season. Then there’s Blackburn, West Ham and Middlesbrough, and if that tells you anything it’s that the league is quite competitive in its middle half and it’s not as easy as changing managers to get results. Everton stuck by with Moyes and look where that’s gotten them.
Can Eriksson take Manchester City to the Champions League?
That’s what the new owner is after, right? Same as what Tottenham want, same as what Everton want, same as what Newcastle and Aston Villa want.
Eriksson doesn’t have the players at his disposal to make a sustained challenge for a Champions League spot next season. He has the experience but whether he can motivate his players to overachieve is another thing altogether. To put it politely, the higher tempo of the Premier League allows for more motivated players to stand up to and even beat technically better players. Eriksson’s main job is man-management, and again, he’s not Ferguson or Mourinho where people are concerned.
He’s still good though, and City should be challenging for UEFA Cup football next year if he stays on.
Is there a realistic replacement available?
Scolari? Manchester City? He turned England down because of the media circus, I’m not convinced that he’ll hop on board TS’s trigger-happy bandwagon.
McClaren? Karma? Ha.
Sam Allardyce? Don’t know if that’s better or worse than Macca.
Who else? Bilic and Hiddink are tied up internationally, Rijkaard sure as hell isn’t coming to manage a club outside the Champions League and Ramos is booked at Tottenham for next season. Lippi sure as hell ain’t coming (sorry if this sounds harsh and too ‘top-4ish’, but it’s true).
Any other realistic contenders for the Manchester City post?