Eriksson hits out at FA over manner of exit

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The Independent Football

Sven Goran Eriksson ended his employment with the Football Association last night by condemning their decision to hasten his departure from Soho Square on the back of the "Fake Sheikh" scandal.

The now former England manager was forced to reveal his intention to leave the job after this World Cup following an exposé by The News of the World's investigations editor, Mazher Mahmood, in January. Though it subsequently emerged that Eriksson held talks with the FA's chief executive, Brian Barwick, over a summer abdication before Mahmood's allegations appeared, the Swede believes he was relieved of his duties against his will and that the FA erred in succumbing to public pressure to replace him before the World Cup.

Eriksson, who will begin considering new offers of employment from today, revealed: "I am disappointed, not angry, and disappointed because of the reason. The reason was a newspaper coming out with lies. Nobody knows what was true in that - I know, and that is why I have sued the newspaper. It has cost me a lot of money but I am sure I will get the money back. I don't think the Football Association, or a government, should listen to a newspaper that much."

Eriksson, however claimed no regrets over accepting to replace Kevin Keegan as England manager despite the controversy, scrutiny and criticism of his five-and-a-half-year reign. "If you are in this job you have to accept it for what it is and not be killed or knocked down by it," he said, "but it has been a fantastic five years and I have enjoyed every single day."

On the greatest surprise in the job, he added: "You are very English. I have never been accused of being Swedish anywhere else."

The 58-year-old denied that he had been too lenient with his players in Germany and that the high-profile presence of the "Wags" had been an unnecessary distraction.

"I don't think the wives had anything to do with the penalties," he said. "The players never had two days off, never, they only ever had one day off after a game." He also dismissed suggestions that three quarter-final exits in three successive tournaments was a poor return for a manager with a salary of almost £5m.

Eriksson insisted: "I am not the best paid manager in the world and why shouldn't a national manager be paid the same as a club manager? If you want people to do this job out of honour, or whatever, then you will find it very difficult. I don't know if three quarter-finals are good enough. The first two, I think so, but this was not good enough. If you see the other teams in the semi-finals then we should be there and I am sorry."

Before leaving England's training camp in the Black Forest for the last time, ahead of a vacation, Eriksson also defended a selection policy that was exposed as fundamentally flawed in Germany once Michael Owen suffered a cruciate ligament injury against Sweden.

"I don't regret taking [Theo] Walcott," he declared. "You forget one important thing; where are the other big strikers in England? Where are the other strikers who can score at this level?"

When it was put to Eriksson that Jermain Defoe offered a more proven alternative to the untested Arsenal teenager, he replied; "I don't think so. If I thought that I would have picked him and I have seen him 15 or 20 times this season."