Eriksson's silent start as farewell tour hits Bangkok

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The Independent Online

Sven Goran Eriksson refused to comment on when he will next meet the Manchester City owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, after arriving in Thailand yesterday.

The City manager landed at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport in the early evening local time for the first leg of the club's post-season promotional tour to the Far East, which is set to be overshadowed by speculation over his position. When asked if he would be meeting with Thaksin, Eriksson said: "No comment."

The former England manager was then promptly ushered away into a waiting car. Thaksin, the former Thai Prime Minister, is reportedly dissatisfied with City's form in the second half of the season which culminated in an 8-1 humiliation at Middlesbrough on Sunday and a ninth-placed finish in the Premier League.

It was City's best finish since the 2004-2005 season, but Eriksson's position has become precarious. City defeated champions Manchester United in both the home and away derbies during the season – becoming the only team to win at Old Trafford in the League and claiming their first double over their city rivals in 38 years.

But Eriksson's side won just four and lost eight of 14 matches since the close of the January transfer window, including defeats to relegated teams Birmingham and Reading and a reverse to fourth-bottom Fulham.

The 60-year-old Swede could now be given his marching orders in Thailand, but still be asked to lead the team in the second leg of the tour in Hong Kong in what would be a farcical end to his season-long reign at the City of Manchester Stadium.

City's schedule sees them take on Thailand Premier All-Stars on Saturday in Bangkok, before meeting a South China Invitational XI in Hong Kong next Thursday.

Eriksson's predecessor at City, Stuart Pearce, believes Eriksson is the right manager to take the club forward and continue the progress they have made since the Swede took over last July.

Pearce was dismissed a year ago under the previous regime at City after a 14th-placed finish in the Premier League.

The current England Under-21 manager said: "If you ask me if the club is going in the right direction with respect to some added finance from my time, the answer is '100 per cent yes'.

"That's from an ex-manager of the club. It's difficult for me to talk about it but if you ask me whether I think the current manager is a good one, yes. If you ask me as a Manchester City supporter whether he should stay in charge, the answer is 'yes'.

"I don't know what direction the club is being taken in," Pearce added. "What I do know is that they have a fantastic crop of good, young players – Michael Johnson, Joe Hart, Stephen Ireland, Micah Richards. The academy has just won the FA Youth Cup.

"They need to add to that and push forward. They have the right fella in charge to do that."

After City's investment in the likes of Elano and Martin Petrov, and their impressive start to the season, there were hopes of qualifying for Europe. Ninth still represents an improvement on where they were a year ago and ironically City could be handed a place in the Uefa Cup next season when the Premier League's final Fair Play rankings are revealed.

"I would have been happy with a finish of ninth," Pearce said. "I'd say he has done a very good job. They were one win away from finishing fifth or six.

"I finished 14th the year before last on a tight budget. You have had to spend a few bob to rise the five places they have this season."

Eriksson's treatment illustrates what Pearce sees as a problem in football over the expectation on managers.

"I do get disappointed with the direction football is going in, what with the turnover of managers so quickly," Pearce added.

"That seems to be part and parcel of the football industry now. There is a bigger picture and a bit more patience bears fruit. Alex Ferguson and David Moyes have proved that.

"If I was in charge of a football club, I would make different decisions. It seems to be the way the football industry in general is going and I find it quite sad.

"People I respect greatly as managers can almost seem unemployable the next day if you listen to all the messages that come in front of your eyes and ears, which clearly isn't the case."

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