Whelan calls for Eriksson to be replaced by English dream team

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The Independent Online

Sven Goran Eriksson remained tight-lipped about the "fake sheikh" controversy yesterday, but the saga rumbled on with Dave Whelan, the Wigan Athletic chairman, calling for the England coach to be sacked immediately, while Howard Wilkinson, chairman of the League Managers' Association, asked for the whole sorry story to be put to rest.

Whelan is an outspoken critic of Eriksson and went as far as to suggest that his own manager, Paul Jewell, should manage the national side with Stuart Pearce. But Wilkinson, Eriksson's predecessor as England manager in a caretaker role while Football Association technical director, has called for a united front to support the England team in the build-up to the World Cup.

"I have criticised Eriksson in the past but there should be no way back from this," Whelan said. "It is an absolute scandal, a disgrace. You simply do not expect the England manager to openly discuss his future plans and to air his views about what he thinks about players in his squad. He has broken one of the game's golden rules. It is gross misconduct and the man has to go."

It is understood that the LMA has expressed concerns to the FA regarding the comments of Eriksson - who is, ironically, the LMA president, a non-executive position - who suggested to the undercover reporter that he should buy Aston Villa and install the Swede as manager. But, after talks with the FA chief executive, Brian Barwick, Wilkinson has called for an end to the affair. "We have drawn a line under it," he said. "Our position is that the unfortunate incident is finished and that of prime importance is England's success next summer."

Eriksson was less open with his opinions yesterday at the launch of a football project - called Truce - in south-east London with his partner, Nancy Dell'Olio, than he had been when aboard the yacht in Dubai. "We are here for children and Truce, nothing else," Eriksson said, as he was surrounded by cameras and journalists after stepping out of his car.

The LMA confirmed it had been in talks with the FA over the matter. A statement said: "It is true that we discussed the situation. These observations will remain entirely confidential but we can confirm that very positive conversations have taken place with Howard Wilkinson, LMA chief executive John Barnwell and FA chief executive Brian Barwick.

"The LMA wishes to reiterate its total support and backing for England in this year's 2006 World Cup. A successful performance by England is of paramount importance to everyone connected with football in this country."

Soho Square is unlikely to give Whelan's views too much credence, or his suggestion that Eriksson should be replaced by a joint managerial team of Jewell and Pearce. However, it is another example of the unwanted publicity Eriksson's ill-advised meeting in Dubai has brought.

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