Sven Goran Eriksson was given permission by the Football Association a year ago to negotiate a new job after this summer's World Cup finals, but when he met with chief executive Brian Barwick on Monday after more revelations from the "fake sheikh" tabloid sting it was the FA which told the Swede that he would have to go in July.
The final details of one of the longest goodbyes in English football were disclosed yesterday with Barwick's admission that he had begun talks with Eriksson about the possibility of the coach leaving as soon as he took over at Soho Square one year ago. The FA also hopes the £3m compensation on the final two years of Eriksson's contract will be mitigated to the extent where it does not have "pay a penny", provided he gets a new job next season.
While both men argued that the revelations Eriksson let slip during the News of the World's sting had not been the deciding factor, there was no doubt that it had hastened the end. Eriksson is now able to negotiate a new job in the build-up to the World Cup finals, although his liberation from five years as England manager did not appear to have lifted the cloud of despondency over the Swede, who will also have to give evidence to an inquiry set up by the Premier League yesterday. The inquiry into the issue of transfer bungs will call Eriksson as a result of allegations he made to an undercover reporter that corruption was widespread in the Premiership.
The Premier League chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said yesterday that he did not believe that "Sven Goran Eriksson or anyone else involved in the game" would not have a reason to cooperate.
Barwick explained how he had obtained a promise from Eriksson that he would not be wrong-footed in the way his predecessor, Mark Palios, had been by Eriksson's two meetings with Chelsea. "One of the things we discussed, in probably the first meeting with Sven, was life post-2006," Barwick said. "I was keen that if Sven wanted to enjoy his football trade elsewhere that I was aware of it and could be part and parcel of the knowledge of it. I felt that was about building a relationship with Sven, which I have to say is a good one today.
"Yesterday [Monday] we had a conversation about several things, but what was important for me was to be seen to be backing Sven. I'm asking Sven to take what I believe is the best English team since 1966 to the World Cup to try to win it. I felt there was an opportunity for some significant clarification. We discussed it long and hard and the best way forward was for him to focus on 2006 and then for him and us to part company in good heart and good grace."
Eriksson said it had begun as a "private agreement" to leave after the World Cup with a responsibility to be clear about his future, but he left little room for doubt how it had come to a head on Monday.
"We had a meeting where we talked about what happened during the last week," he said. "I was asked to win the World Cup and then was asked to look after my life after that."
The status of Eriksson as a "lame duck" manager as he heads for the World Cup was not, Barwick said, a "handicap" and he used the precedents of Bobby Robson in the 1990 World Cup and Terry Venables at Euro '96, as evidence that the job could be done effectively. Neither of those managers won the competitions but Eriksson said that his players would be comfortable with the concept "they couldn't care less, they want to win the World Cup" and that his job negotiations would not affect his work.
"If I want to stay in football I cannot wait until 10 July," Eriksson said. "If I want to negotiate I have my agent. In football you don't phone clubs or countries. They offer you the jobs. But I can assure you that I will not be talking to anyone when we play football in England. Absolutely not."
When it came to compensation on the two years of Eriksson's £4.1m annual salary, Barwick handed the floor to the Swede, in a gesture intended to show that Eriksson is not as greedy as he is often portrayed, and his shy announcement that the FA may not even be liable for "a penny" will take much of the sting out of what may be a rancorous departure if England fail in Germany.
"I should like to stress very firmly that, hopefully, it will not cost the FA one penny," Eriksson said. "It has nothing to do with [winning the] World Cup."
Eriksson said his future plans involved being a manager somewhere "in a club or a country, whatever it is" although he did not rule out staying in England. Barwick confirmed that he would not be consulting the Swede on his successor and will not limit his search to English managers, although he confirmed if the next man was "then so much the better".
The agent of Guus Hiddink, one of the managers at the forefront of FA thinking, said the PSV Eindhoven and Australia coach had no immediate interest in succeeding Eriksson, adding he had a clause in his club contract that allowed him to negotiate with "top clubs" but not national federations. Cees van Nieuwenhuizen said Hiddink was contracted for one more season to PSV and no contact had been made from the FA, adding: "He is happy with PSV this season and then he will concentrate on Australia and the World Cup."
Charlton's chief executive, Peter Varney, said that the club's manager, Alan Curbishley, would be allowed to leave The Valley if he was approached to fill the England post. "If they do come calling, at the end of the day it is Alan's decision," Varney said.
'Look to home-grown talent': Six leading figures on who should replace Eriksson
CRAIG BROWN (former Scotland manager)
The Irish stole a march on England by getting Sir Bobby Robson to help Steve Staunton. Bobby overseeing Messrs Pearce, Jewell, Curbishley, Allardyce or even Shearer would have been a sensible structure. It's more than one job - Tord Grip's input is undervalued - although Trevor Brooking could fulfil the adviser's role. I'd go for Fabio Capello, with his unrivalled record, or a former England captain who is now a first-class manager, Terry Butcher, as dark horses.
HOWARD WILKINSON (former England caretaker manager)
As chairman of the League Managers' Association, and this is also my personal view, it's a waste to spend time on coach education - to bring England on a par with Italy, Spain, Holland and others - and not utilise that. I would prefer an Englishman, or at least a Brit. There are candidates, and if there's a drawback to some, it's ironically because they don't have a lot of European experience because England's top clubs aren't employing English managers.
MARK HUGHES (former Wales manager )
European experience is seen as a prerequisite for the England job but I think too much significance is placed on it. It is more important to have shown you can do your job well, know what you want to do with a team and to be proven tactically. It is difficult for me to pull one name out but this country produces fantastic coaches and managers and whoever the FA picks I know they can find the quality and personality they need in this country.
GORDON TAYLOR (PFA chief executive)
We must not get distracted from the task in hand for Sven: England's best chance of winning the World Cup in a long time. But beyond that, I feel we should look for an English manager, or perhaps even two men - a senior figure with an up-and-coming coach alongside him. In no order, candidates might include Steve McClaren, Alan Curbishley, Sam Allardyce, Stuart Pearce, Paul Jewell and Alan Pardew. It's a sad indictment if England can't find an English manager.
PETER VARNEY (Charlton Athletic chief executive)
I think it should be an Englishman this time around. It's a terrible indictment of our coaching system if we cannot produce an Englishman to coach the English team. Alan [Curbishley, the Charlton manager] is obviously one of those candidates. If it is a challenge Alan wants to take up we always said we wouldn't stand in his way. I think it is right that the FA make the appointment before the World Cup and that person actually goes with them to Germany.
GERRY FRANCIS (former England captain)
I think every nation should be managed by someone who comes from that country, like the players have to, and it would be nice if England were managed by an Englishman. But there is no such rule so England should go for the best man. However, no one name springs out at you, which is not to say Sam Allardyce, Alan Curbishley, Steve McClaren or Paul Jewell might not do a fantastic job. I think whoever gets it needs enough experience to show they can manage.Reuse content