Incredibly, Sven on the Brink at City; How Will Fans Respond?

The talk that Sven Goran-Eriksson, a revered figure among the majority of City fans, is on the way out the door has moved rapidly from rumor to ambiguity to apparent certainty in the wake of City’s frustrating 3-2 defeat to Fulham. The Guardian today reports that Sven is resigned to losing his job and has discussed the situation with his team.

This would be a terrible outcome for Manchester City Football Club, and just about everyone knows it except the man who was allowed to buy the club last summer, Thaksin Shinawatra. Fans will be upset, but whether they will be moved to actually do something remains to be seen. Of equal interest is whether other insiders at the club take action or offer resignations as well, and of course how the players (reported to be 100% behind Sven) respond.

Thaksin’s move to bring Sven in last summer, along with the sanctioning of over half a dozen new players in quick succession, gave Thaksin substantial credibility with City fans, most of whom have thoroughly enjoyed the improvement this season. That even goes for those of us never fully (or at all) sold on Thaksin or his record of leadership. For many City fans, the success on the pitch and the step up in professionalism that Sven brought to the club signaled that Thaksin really was the shrewed businessman/politician who knew what he was doing, whose manifold talents also extended to governing a football club.

It now appears that that initial impression was misleading, indeed false. Instead, Thaksin is coming off as impetuous, ill-informed, out-of-touch with what is happening on the ground, and greedy for success. Those are all very bad qualities for a football owner, especially in a league as competitive as the Premiership. Ambition is a good thing, but patience is indispensable in building a truly elite-level club. Thaksin talks about his plan for City to move into the Champions League by year three, as if it were no different than a plan to gain a certain percentage of market share for a product within a given time period. Football and sport are not like that–there are far too many uncertainties involved.

That is to say, it’s highly unlikely that Thaksin is going to find another manager more likely than Sven to continue to push the club up the table any faster. Indeed, the more likely result as that City will become known as an impossible job, a place where you can improve results substantially, acquire interesting new talent, nurture young players, win everybody over in the team, the club, and community, do the double over your archrival, and still get the sack. What self-respecting top manager will want to work in those circumstances?

One report in The Sun makes the situation out to be even worse: according to this report, Thaksin wants to have complete control over transfers and even team selection.  That’s a recipe for disaster. The Sun also says that Sven ripped into Thaksin for publicly criticizing him and the team’s performances in recent comments.

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One Comment on “Incredibly, Sven on the Brink at City; How Will Fans Respond?”

  1. Other than Sir Alf’s heroic squad’s flooky World cup win in an otherwise inconsistent period for English football, Sven Goran has statistically the most consistant and successful record of any England manager and is officially ranked No.2 after Sir Alf by TheFA.
    With 3 top qualifying places and the loss of only five competitive games in nearly six years in office, Sven dragged England out of “the football wilderness” and up to FIFA No.4 World ranking. Sven’s “reward”? A two year extension on his contract closely followed by being forced to quit by TheFA (amid howls of protest from many England fans) resulting in England’s dismal failure to qualify for Euro2008.
    Manchester City had spent 30 years “in the wilderness” prior to Sven turning things around with their most successful season in decades and he has provided a strong indication of much better things to come. Result…..”sack the Swede”?????
    What a strange world we live in and it brings a new meaning to the old saying that “football’s a funny old game….”
    The consolation for Sven is that he was not short of club and national squad offers and invitations during his “gap year” and there will no doubt be many now re-forming the queue who will be hoping to gain his talent. England’s loss was Man City’s gain and if Thaksin is mad enough to throw away the clubs best chance of continued and rapid future success, the Citizens loss will no doubt be another (foreign?) Club or Nation’s gain and Svennis will have another £3M to add to his “pension fund” while he considers his options through the summer!

    Proud to “be” Sven….

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