Former England, Manchester City and Mexico manager Sven Goran-Eriksson did not become director of football at Notts County “for the money.” Nor, apparently, did he go for the prestige or mild degree of difficulty. Eriksson inherits a club that finished 19th in League Two last season, essentially the worst club in England that can be called professional.
Not only did Eriksson inherit difficulty, but he set his goal inordinately high. He wants to bring the club nearly as old as football itself back to the top flight.
“I think it’s the biggest football challenge of my life, trying to take Notts County back to the Premier League, but that’s the target. The challenge is perhaps the most difficult football job I’ve had so far. But, I am looking forward to it.”
Eriksson signed a five-year contract. He wants to bring the club up within those five years, meaning promotion in nearly every season. The task is arduous. Can Sven do it?
Lower league teams survive week to week financially. Notts County was bought by a Middle Eastern consortium, with millions to spend. The lower leagues have resources parity without terribly complex tactics. Even a modest investment, could give the club a decisive advantage. It’s not inconceivable that Notts County could spend their way to the Championship within three or four seasons.
The jump from the Championship to the Premier League, however, is bigger. The Championship has large clubs, now including one of the largest in the world thanks to Newcastle, and seasoned clubs just down from the top flight. Even with heavy spending and luck, promotion requires a greater level of guile. Even QPR with its enormous financial advantage and stable building project has yet to escape.
Sven-Goran Eriksson has proven with cash he can construct a team, but he has never overseen the development of an academy and scouting infrastructure required for the top level. Eriksson can be successful with Notts County’s raw material, but it’s an endeavor alien to his track record.
The Notts County project would be interesting in football manager. Though, for a figure of Eriksson’s stature who would be in the mix for a Premier League or top-level European job come the first round of firings this fall, his decision to accept it seems curious.