Sven Goran Eriksson is mostly talked about as the former England manager, the first foreign man to be appointed in that job. The fact was that almost everything “Svennis” did before the England job was seen as “brilliant”.
Bringing home the Serie A title while at Lazio and of course those great titles wins with IFK Gothenburg, Roma, Benfica and Sampdoria. But “Svennis” and his Manchester City adventure has not been said much about.
He had been out of the game, after leaving his position as England manager after the 2006 World Cup, and to see him as head of Manchester City with a new ownership and trying to bring that “big maestro” back on the podium was in real very exciting.
The former Prime-Minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra had just taken over the club for a net fee of £81,6million. He did a clever job and appointed Sven Goran Eriksson as his new manager, which was a highly popular choice by the fans who know had new hope of a great era after really being a bit out of the limelight since the mid 70’s.
Thaksin Shinawatra was just “Frank” for the Man City fans, as his name was so close to that of “Frank Sinatra”.
The previous season, 06/07, with Stuart Pearce as manager, ended in a 14th position with a team mostly put together with not so many prominent players. Svennis new that he had to change a lot and new faces had to be added to the squad.
With the full backing of “Frank”, Svennis started to bring in a number of new faces and his signings would be, looking at it in an historical way, much more important than fans and pundits ever could have imagined. Really the start of this fantastic era as we see today. That summer was the end of Joey Barton’s career at the club, as Svennis decided to cash in on a £5.8million transfer to Newcastle United. The other transfer that gained a fee was selling Ishmael Miller to West Bromwich Albion.
Svennis made ten new signings over the summer with the likes of Brazilians, Elano and Geovanni, Spanish defender Garrido and the most expensive being Gelson Fernandez coming in from Sion and Rolando Biachi signed from Reggina. Should of course also mention World Cup finalist Vedran Corluka and Bulgarian international Martin Petrov.
The team was more or less in a “total change” and the start was with a bit of magic as the club sailed towards the top of the table and was up there with the best for a long period of time, seeing Man City top all the way into winter period.
UEFA Cup as the most fair playing team in the league that season. “Svennis” was voted manager of the month in August 2007, which was a grand month of great results for a team transformed from a low table position the season before.
Kasper Schmeichel was in goal on those first games, and as we have seen later, being great for Leicester City after a period at Notts County and Leeds United and of course all these loan spells after Joe Hart won the fight for the number one jersey and early on establishing himself as the England number one.
Manchester City were a top four Champions League qualified team going into November, but from then on slightly sliding down the table and in the end finishing 9th, but still grabbing an UEFA Cup spot due to a fair-play position.
During the season “Svennis” and his Man City managed to beat Sir Alex Ferguson and Man Utd in that memorial game for the Munich Air Disaster, 50 years on. A fine 2-1 win was the result, with goals coming from Vassel and Benjani, as City had a 2-0 lead until the 90th minute when Michael Carrick scored the 1-2 goal.
Svennis had done the changes to bring this club to the very top, but “Frank” wasn’t sure and he decided to sack the Swede and former England manager, and most people were a bit surprised about the decision made, giving the job to Mark Hughes.
“Frank” sold the club a year later and from then things started to happen. When Roberto Mancini took over, it was time for the next step forward, and strangely the Italian worked as we all know closely with “Svennis” while at Lazio together, being a player coach at the time. An “omen” that Mancini was the one to bring the Premier League trophy to Man City.
Joe Hart who had been hand picked himself by “Svennis” in that one season, playing 26 of those games and establishing himself as a first team regular and Micah Richards were the only players left from the “Svennis” days, but all in all they made a certain impact.
Martin Petrov who was signed by “Svennis” described his manager as just a lovely man with a great passion for the game, loving football and just wanted to see his team attack, attack and attack.
You cannot predict the future, but with “Svennis” Man City made that vital jump into the “feeling” again to be a top team, something that had been missing all the way since the Tony Book, Joe Mercer and Malcolm Allison era, so it was in a way a sign that this club were on it’s way back to the top.
Man City have build themselves stronger and stronger, having the best manager in the trade in Pep Guardiola and a team and a club structure that is a ideal way to have it in a football club. Their future looks bright and they have a foundation that makes you believe that football are going places.
“Svennis” is in his 70’s now, and has since leaving Man City done a lot of different jobs and short stays all over the globe, and as we all know led The Ivory Coast in the 2010 World Cup, being the boss of Mexico and Leicester City, doing jobs in China and at the latest being in charge of The Philippines.
His record at Manchester City was 45 games played, 19 won, 11 draws and 15 defeats. A ratio of 42,22.