Eriksson says Chelsea job is not impossible

Swede defends Russian owner over sacking of manager at underperforming 'huge club'

Sven Goran Eriksson said last night that Roman Abramovich's sacking of Andre Villas-Boas was justified in the context of Chelsea's season and admitted that he would join the club "at once", in the highly improbable event of an approach from the Russian.

Eriksson rejected Abramovich's offer of the Chelsea manager's job while he was overseeing England in 2003, after the dismissal of Claudio Ranieri, and was a confidant of the Russian in the early months of his ownership at Stamford Bridge, when he dined and took tea with him and appeared to be a sounding board on transfers.

In his first interview since Leicester City's Thai owners dismissed him in October, Eriksson rejected the notion that Chelsea had become an impossible job and said that his own record at Benfica from 1982 to 1984 demonstrated that younger managers can flourish with older players.

Asked how he would respond if Abramovich approached him now, he said: "I would be very pleased but it won't happen.'' When it was put to him that he is well acquainted with the club's senior players, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard and John Terry, he replied: "It wouldn't happen. I never thought about it. You only say no once [to Roman Abramovich]. Leave it, please.''

Of the notion that the Chelsea job has become one in which it is impossible to succeed, Eriksson said: "Why should it be? I don't think so. You work at [Manchester] United, [Manchester] City, Chelsea today and it's results. Because it's a huge club, big money. I can understand the owner and the club because next season, the Champions League without Chelsea? That would be very, very bad for the club. Not only the money but for the prestige of the club."

He also rejected the notion that the change Villas-Boas was being asked to implement was too great for a 34-year-old to handle. "I think I was even younger when I moved to Benfica and that was an old team with old, famous players. I was younger than three of the players but that was not a problem. Results came and then it's not a problem. I kept the [older players] for at least a year and we won everything!"

Eriksson, who was briefly an Independent columnist before his dismissal at Leicester, reflected on the friendship he established with Abramovich during their discussions, saying the Chelsea owner was "a very nice man, very quiet – from what I know. Passionate for football. At least he was when I knew him". He related how he had allowed boardroom intervention to the extend of agreeing to one of his chairmen's request to field a player, in order to help to sell him.

Eriksson also said he had been "absolutely" surprised by Fabio Capello's decision to walk out on England over what the Swede considers a perfectly reasonable decision, on the Football Association's part, to remove John Terry as captain, pending his court case.

"I can't understand that," the 64-year-old said. "[He's] done the job after the last World Cup. Qualified in style. And now the last piece of the work – not to want to take part in that... I had a similar case when Rio Ferdinand was not allowed to play [in a Euro 2004 qualifier with Turkey which almost prompted a player strike] and that, of course, was above my head.

"But you have to understand the FA. They attach great importance to things about racism and drugs. So at a certain point they have to go in and say, 'It's not possible for Rio to play or Terry to be captain'. I didn't like it but I had to accept it. It's the FA's right to stand up sometimes and say, 'No this is not right.' If anyone should be responsible for morals in sport in this country it's the FA."

Eriksson could not disguise the fact that he would jump at the chance to manage England again in a temporary capacity at this summer's European Championship in Poland and Ukraine – another opportunity he knows will not come his way.

"I would take it tomorrow. They should take me!" he joked. "I know all the players. Yes of course I would take it but it will not happen and you know that. Because that would be considered by the press and the FA as going backwards."

Reflecting on his treatment by the tabloids during his life as England manager, he said: "The English tabloid press is not a mirror of the English people. English people are very educated and never criticised me, they were always positive with me. If [there were stories] about [my] private life, people said, 'Well done Sven!' The tabloids always wanted to mix the public and the private."

Asked if he believed his phone had been hacked whilst England manager, Eriksson replied: "I know [this is an issue] but ... no. Can we take that question another time? I can't answer that question. Another time."

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence