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

News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
News
Boris Johnson may be manoeuvring to succeed David Cameron
i100
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Life and Style
fashionPart of 'best-selling' Demeter scent range
News
i100
Sport
Tom Cleverley
footballLoan move comes 17 hours after close of transfer window
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
footballRadamel Falcao and Diego Costa head record £835m influx
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
News
i100
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

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering