The secret side of Sven – gentleman but a man of steel

Manchester City may have the scent of the Champions' League in their nostrils after establishing themselves in the top four under Roberto Mancini but Derek Fazackerley says they would be there already if they had not sacked Sven Goran Eriksson.

Fazackerley, one of English football's most respected coaches and part of the former England manager's inner circle during the Swede's year at Eastlands, believes those who hired and fired Eriksson made a serious misjudgement when they replaced him in the summer of 2008, setting the club's development back.

"Roberto Mancini has done a smashing job and deserves respect but had there not been so many changes at City, they would possibly be in the Champions' League by now," he said. "Sven had the opportunity to build on 12 months of working with the players but then he goes, Mark Hughes comes in and naturally needs six months to look at the players himself. Given the resources that came into the club [when the Abu Dhabi United group took over] you would have to think, with Sven's record, he could by now have qualified for the Champions' League."

Fazackerley, who was part of the England coaching team under Kevin Keegan, was reunited with Eriksson as his assistant in October when the Swede became Leicester City's manager. They cross swords with Manchester City at the Walkers Stadium today in the third round of the FA Cup and Fazackerley says that Eriksson will be eager to get the better of Mancini, who played under him when he was coach at Sampdoriain the 1990s. "Neither will want to be beaten by the other," he said.

Fazackerley, who spent five years with City before Eriksson arrived, quit as first-team coach at Huddersfield to join Leicester, eager to work with Eriksson again. He dismisses the perception of some cynical observers that the Swede lands jobs as a high-profile, lavishly paid figurehead while others graft. "I can't think of too many days that he missed at Manchester City," Fazackerley said. "I was with him for 12 months and he was on the training ground every day barring one – and that was because he had to go to see the owners. He has been on the training ground every day here too. You couldn't get more of a hands-on manager.

"He is a great organiser. Everybody knows their job on the training field, and if anybody has any ideas about how we could improve, he listens. He is not one to go into a club and sack everybody. When he took over at City he said to me, 'you have an opportunity'. Straightaway you don't feel you have to look over your shoulder.

"He is a gentleman – I've never known him refuse an autograph or a picture with someone – and one of his great talents is his man-management. I've seen him lose his temper but not dramatically and never to shout somebody down. If he has to have a difficult discussion with somebody he does so in the privacy of his office. So he gets huge respect from everyone, even the players he has to move on to other clubs. You cannot spend 40 to 50 years in football and not have vast knowledge. And you can't have his success without having a bit of steel."

There are uncanny parallels between Leicester and the Manchester City of Eriksson's tenure. For Thaksin Shinawatra, the businessman and former Thai prime minister who presided at Eastlands, read Vichai Raksriaksorn, multi-millionaire owner of Thai duty-free giants King Power Group, whose son, Aiyawatt, led a £39 million takeover at the Walkers Stadium last summer.

Shinawatra, always dogged by a murky past, is a fugitive from justice in his homeland. But Fazackerley has good feelings about Leicester's owners. "I don't think [the Shinawatra regime] had a good enough understanding of football in this country and did not realise what it needed to keep City going forward.

"Here they are a lot closer to the club in terms of seeing people face to face. There has been a lot of foreign ownership and it has changed the face of football but here they have allowed the people who know football to get on with the job."

Sub-plots abound in today's tie. Mancini made four appearances for Leicester in 2001. Darius Vassell, the Leicester striker, was with Eriksson at City and Richie Wellens, his team-mate, is a life-long Manchester United fan whose career at Old Trafford, from nine years old to 20, might have gone further had it not had the misfortune to coincide with Scholes, Giggs, Beckham and Co.

"United's reserves normally would beat City's," he recalls with some pleasure. "It's a different City now, of course, but we want to be testing ourselves against this kind of opposition every week and the manager has given us a lot of confidence."

Leicester City v Manchester City is on ESPN today, kick-off 4pm

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker