Wily Fox Eriksson turns on that old charm again

Former England manager looks forward to his first Leicester game tomorrow with that familiar twinkling in his eyes

Even the badge on Sven Goran Eriksson's gleaming white Leicester City tracksuit, depicting a fox's head, seems to suit the Swede's wily personality and reputation as a crafty, even cunning, operator.

Better, certainly, than the magpie that adorns the crest of the former England manager's last club in the East Midlands. Asked whether his reputation suffered during his seven-month tenure at Notts County, Eriksson replied bluntly: "I think so. People still ask me: 'Why the hell did you do that?'"

The answer, he revealed, was that he was tempted by the role of director of football to a club whose then owners had sold him the vision of steering the club from League Two to the Premier League. "I was happy," he recalled. "I had five years to take them through the system. But what should have happened didn't happen."

There are those, possibly even among Leicester's sizeable fan base, who will have doubts as to whether the same scenario will be played out at the Walkers Stadium, where Eriksson will take charge for the first time tomorrow against a Hull City side under the stewardship of Nigel Pearson, who led the Foxes to promotion 18 months ago.

The team Eriksson, 62, has inherited from Paulo Sousa is in the relegation zone of a division in which he has never worked, the Championship, and the club has new Thai owners, the father and son team of Vichai and Aiyawatt Raksriaksorn, with no experience of the English game.

If Leicester's position is a reflection of their abilities, he has much work to do. Do they deserve to be where they are? "Good question," Eriksson said with a twinkle of the eyes and that disarming, flattering smile that became his trademark during his five and a half years with England. "But I can't answer it. I saw them beat Scunthorpe and they played very well. But their position is awful."

Eriksson's last brush with Thai owners, under Thaksin Shinawatra at Manchester City in 2007-08, ended in dismissal by the former Prime Minister and an 8-1 defeat in his last match as a club manager, at Middlesbrough. Dr Thaksin then made him take the squad to Thailand even though he knew Eriksson was finished at Eastlands.

"The last game was awful," Eriksson said. "Things were very difficult. The players knew I was leaving and didn't want to play in protest against Thaksin. But there's no doubt about the ambition of the owners here. They want this club in the Premier League and they have told me they want that as quickly as possible. They tell me they're not in it for the short term, to take the club up and then try to sell it. I wanted to hear that from them."

Expectations can be a double-edged sword, and a local-paper columnist predicted Leicester would be "in the top six by Christmas". Eriksson views them as a blessing. "It's wonderful to work in a club, or a country, where there are great expectations," he said. "If there are no expectations, you're in the wrong place."

The England job, for him, was definitely the right place, even though it ended at the 2006 World Cup with a third successive exit from a major tournament in the quarter-finals and with his image somewhat besmirched by the Faria Alam and "Fake Sheikh" sagas. Did he have a wry smile when Fabio Capello's team incurred the wrath of the Wembley crowd? "No. Why should I smile? I want England to win. Most of the players in the squad are ones I had.

"I was extremely proud to have that job and happy every day I was in it. If it was up to me, I would have stayed, but I couldn't."

The most recent World Cup and results like Tuesday's make his already respectable reign look better all the time, but Eriksson will not be tempted into criticism of Capello, with whom he once shared an Italian rivalry when they coached Lazio and Roma respectively, saying: "He'll come through this OK because he's such a good manager."

As for his own England record, he added: "I wasn't that bad, maybe. But that's history." Having relished his return to the technical area with Ivory Coast in South Africa, he is looking forward to the tussle with Hull and Pearson. "The dugout is the closest and best place to be. Looking back, I realise how much I missed it at Notts County. Sometimes when they were training, you just felt, 'Shit. I'd like to be there'."

Eriksson is also, of course, back in his adopted country. "English people have always been kind to me," he said, flashing that seductive smile again. "I never had anyone say: 'Sven, why did you do that?' Never. During all my time as England manager."

'Of course Sven would be interested in...': Jobs Eriksson has been linked with since leaving England

No other manager has his name linked with as many vacant jobs as Sven Goran Eriksson. We round up the links since he left the England job four years ago.

South Africa

Danny Jordaan, chief executive of the 2010 World Cup, claimed in March 2006 Eriksson's "attitude would be important when building a new South Africa team".

Jamaica

Linked with £3m-a-year deal in July 2006.

Internazionale

Linked with Italians in September 2006.

Newcastle United

Agent Athole Still, May 2007: "Sven would be interested in Newcastle".

Marseilles

Still claimed the job was 'one of three opportunities' in January 2007, but Eriksson denied interest.

Chelsea

Eriksson dismissed reports linking him with the Londoners in September 2007.

Benfica

The club confirms talks in May 2008.

Portsmouth

David James, February 2009: "Somebody of his calibre would be a tremendous acquisition".

Sweden

Jonas Nystedt, of the Swedish FA (Oct 2009): "There is a special list of names and Eriksson is on that list".

Nigeria

"I regret that I went there, it was a mistake," said Eriksson of talks with the Nigerian FA in May 2010.

Australia

Bookmakers favourite in June 2010.

Liverpool

Eriksson, June 2010: "I have been a fan all of my life. Would I want to be the manager of Liverpool? It is every manager's dream".

Fulham

Still (July 2010): "It's a very attractive club. We've known for weeks Sven's one of the managers under consideration".

Ukraine

Linked in August 2010.

Aston Villa

"Of course Sven would be interested. He has always said that he would like to go back into the Premier League," a source close to Eriksson said Still (August 2010): "There has been no contact from Villa. Sven gets associated with a lot of big jobs but, as we speak, there has been no contact".

Al Hilal

Reports in the Saudi Arabian press last month claimed the Swede was close to agreeing a €1.5m deal.

Sport
World Cup 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Sheeran arrives at the 56th annual Grammy Awards earlier this year
musicYes, that would be Ed Sheeran, according to the BBC
Sport
Rio Ferdinand, Alan Shearer, Alan Hansen and Gary Lineker during Hansen's final broadcast
Sport
News
newsBear sweltering in zoo that reaches temperatures of 40 degrees
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll has brought out his female alter-ego Agnes Brown for Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie
filmComedy holds its place at top of the UK box office
News
Ian Thorpe has thanked his supporters after the athlete said in an interview that he is gay
people
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Kathy Willis will showcase plants from the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew
radioPlants: From Roots to Riches has been two years in the making
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
Arts and Entertainment
Eminem's daughter Hailie has graduated from high school
music
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Caption competition
Caption competition

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?