Monday, June 2, 2008

Goodbye, Sven-Göran Eriksson

It's official, Sven-Göran Eriksson left Manchester City today by "mutual consent" after having spent just one season at the Eastlands.

Let's be clear here. Technically, the term "mutual consent" can correctly be applied here because I'm sure Sven wanted out, but the antagonist and instigator of this whole situation was the club's owner, a human-rights abuser who isn't even welcome back in his native Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra. Sven was being pushed around by a guy who knows absolutely nothing about the game but tried to interfere anyway, and with the credentials and success that Sven has piled up, there was no reason for him to put up with that.

Shinawatra had grown increasingly unhappy with City's dip in form in the second half of the season, and Sven's job was in jeopardy even when multiple games were still left to be played. City lost 8-1 to Middlesbrough on the final day of the season and although that may have been what sealed Sven's fate in Shinawatra's mind, I'm of the mindset that the players tanked that game on purpose in a show of protest towards their owner and in support of the manager. In every interview I've seen and read, Manchester City's players were nothing less than thrilled that Sven was their manager and they had his back until the very end.

Eriksson turned around what had been a dismal team that just couldn't score goals under Stuart Pearce, now the England U-21 manager, and had them in a position to qualify for Europe nearly all season. Sure, City didn't end up in the top five, the only automatic qualification places in the Premiership this year, but their exemplary fair play record wound up propelling them into the '08-'09 UEFA Cup anyway. City beat hated rivals Manchester United twice this season, a feat they hadn't accomplished in decades.

Eriksson had very little time to put a team together after becoming manager last summmer, but was able to use his foreign connections to mold a very competitive, exciting squad. He more than surpassed expectations for his first year with a team whose core group of players hadn't played with each other before.

All told, Sven did a a great job at City this year and without him at the helm, I think you're going to see a significant exodus of players this summer. The captain and club player of the year for the past four seasons, blood-and-guts center back Richard Dunne, is on his way to Tottenham and should complete his move sometime this week. At just 19 years of age, Micah Richards is a terrific player and is already City's vice-captain, but the sky is the limit for him and his potential is unlimited. He'll be the starting right back for England in the 2010 World Cup and could start for any Premiership club at center back right now, and he'll presumably be off this summer. Elano could very well leave, Martin Petrov may leave, Stephen Ireland may leave; all of these departures are connected to Sven's departure.

In short, Shinawatra cut off the legs and future growth of his team by getting rid of a guy who brought instant credibility and recognition to a squad that had little of either as perennial inferior neighbors to United. They hadn't done well at all in recent seasons and when they finally did do so (9th place this year), the architect behind it all was unappreciated by the owner. City will suffer next season without Sven; I don't care how much money (most of it was illegally obtained anyway) Shinawatra has, you can't simply buy what Sven brought to the table.

It looks like Sven will land on his feet instantly and take the Mexican national team job, which would immediately thrust them to the top of CONCACAF and add more flavor and splash to a US-Mexico rivalry that has been dominated by the States for a little while now. I wish Sven all the luck in the future and hope he does well with Mexico, so long as it's not at the expense of the US qualifying for the next World Cup.

Sadly and perhaps most importantly, I think this means the end of Sven on "I'm on Setanta Sports" as well.."WELL", goodbye, Sven.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The moment that Shinawatra (and/or his minions) showed such disloyalty to Sven and his coaching team, the heart was ripped out of the club (in a similar way to the England squad in 2006 when TheFA treacherously threw Sven away with such disastrous consequences for the World cup AND Euro08) with the inevitable result that performance dipped in line with plumeting morale.
I just hope that Svennis stays in the UK as the Premier league will be less interesting without him and our national team will have even less chance of success with him in charge of another country's squad?