Thaksin Shinawatra's money is starting to burn a hole in Sven Goran Eriksson's pocket. Two weeks to go and still no new names to add to the Mexican Nery Castillo. The Swede admitted yesterday that he was finding the pursuit of players harder than he had anticipated, with clubs reluctant to release those who have told him they are interested in signing.
"I haven't done it for a long time now so it's more difficult in January than I thought," said Eriksson, whose last hope of silverware this season rests on tonight's FA Cup replay at home to West Ham.
"Everything depends on the clubs. They don't want to because if they break something, they don't have time to practice new systems. In the summer, you have that." Other clubs are finding the same, but with Eriksson quite specific about who he wants, swap deals are not an option for City. "That's just not possible with players we are looking for," Eriksson said.
Eriksson, who is working from the same list he drew up before the window opened, raised, for the first time, the possibility of continuing with the squad he has – "we'll just go on with the season," he said – though evidence of how he needs some reinforcements arrived in the first-half of Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Everton, which prompted Thaksin to tell his manager: "I'm recovering from the shock," Eriksson revealed.
The midfield has looked flimsy against more physical teams, prompting Eriksson to move Vedran Corluka to a holding midfield role. The Croatian said yesterday that he expected to be there for some time to come, despite Eriksson voicing frustration at not being able to play him at centre-half, where he operates best. Midfielder Ousmane Dabo still seems likely to leave City, as does Georgios Samaras.
Eriksson is hoping he can kick start his side's season after a run of one win in seven. There should be little between the sides, who drew 0-0 at Upton Park, and that had Eriksson reflecting on his rather unfair reputation as a manager whose sides cannot score penalties.
Eriksson's sides have won shoot-outs, including the Sampdoria team which beat Porto in the the Cup-Winners' Cup quarter-final in 1995, before losing to Arsenal. And as for the 2006 defeat to Portugal. "Jesus. It was my worst defeat ever," Eriksson said.
The Swede has ordered Emile Mpenza to take a break from training to get rid of a hamstring problem.