Eriksson familiar with financial roller coaster at top
Friday 29 February 2008
When Roman Abramovich's estimated £9.5bn fortune has just failed to deliver the Carling Cup, there must be uncertainties about the capacity of Thaksin Shinawatra (estimated personal wealth with assets unfrozen: £1.5bn) to turn Manchester City into the "next Manchester United".
But the club's manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, declared himself ready to go along for the ride yesterday, even though his analysis of the chairman's notion was laced with demonstrably more realism.
Did Thaksin have a full understanding of what it takes to compete with the Uniteds of this world, Eriksson was asked.
"I'm quite sure he knows how much the other clubs are paying for star players," Eriksson replied. "Remember that Chelsea was a good team but only started to compete with Manchester United and Arsenal when Abramovich came in. How long it will take I don't know.
"It depends on a lot of things – how good the players we have now are and how much better they can become – and depends on the level of players we take in the future because they must be the very top if we are to do that.
"Beating United in a single match, of course, is positive, but beating them over the course of a season or on an international level, given their fame, will be really difficult. That's why United are where they are and why we are where we are," Eriksson added.
Of course, City are not the only second-string club with money to invest in being "the next Manchester United", which means clubs may have no interest in taking your buckets of Thai cash. Take Tottenham, Eriksson suggested.
"Of course they want to keep [Dimitar] Berbatov. I wouldn't say it [would be] suicide, but it would be very close if they let him go. They don't want to be 11th in the table next season at this stage."
Eriksson knows that money can be ephemeral in football. At Lazio, he fought for the title for three years and finally won it, plus the European Cup-Winners' Cup, with money behind him. But then it ran out.
"That is why Lazio are where they are today," he said. He will also be aware that his chairman, whose decision to take Kaspar Schmeichel and Kelvin Etuhu to Bangkok will be viewed by many as a publicity stunt, cherishes media attention and has a track record when it comes to issuing sound bites like yesterday's.
An interview Thaksin gave in December may be nearer reality. In it, he complained that running a football club was painfully expensive and that he might need to seek securitisation of the gate receipts to obtain loan funding for investment in the club – a fateful path which Leeds followed – to help move City on.
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