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Sven for the sack?


Just what the English Premier League needs, another ill-informed, tinkering owner. I’m certain that Manchester City’s billionaire owner Thaksin Shinawatra is a reasonably intelligent man. You don’t get to be a billionaire without a little nous. However, like many other rich sports franchise owners, he does not appear to be content to stay at arm’s length and delegate the first-team management to an expert in the area. In this case, it is coach Sven-Goran Eriksson who has done a solid job of starting to rebuild the Manchester City squad.

However, Shinawatra is unhappy with the club’s recent form and has said that he will decide on Eriksson’s future as manager at the end of the season.

Thaksin bought Manchester City last year after being deposed as Thailand’s prime minister in a military coup and hired former England coach Eriksson. After a strong start to the season, City have faded in recent months and are now eighth in the English Premier League standings with four matches remaining.

Thaksin, acknowledges that the team would need some changes next season but his statement demonstrates his lack of expertise in the area.

“We’ll probably have to sell some players and buy some new ones. We need some defenders, midfielders… midfielders are the key,” he said. “We have some good players but we need more.”

He is right to say that City do need some changes. But overall, the defense and midfield is pretty solid and I don’t think it needs a lot of tinkering.

City are 7th in the league in terms of fewest goals conceded. The teams that have been better are the likes of Man United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Portsmouth, Everton and Arsenal. Where they really trail behind those squads is in terms of goals scored. City have conceded 40 goals (1.18/game) but have only scored 39, which places them 11th. More importantly, with a few more goals, how many of their 10 draws might have been converted to wins?

Midfielders? With Martin Petrov, Elano, Michael Johnson, Geovanni, Gelson Fernandes plus young guns like Vladimir Weiss ready to challenge for first-team spots, City are not hurting in midfield. They need to find a younger version of Dietmar Hamann but should have another season to do that and it could be that a defender like Javier Garrido could be converted to do that job.

Defenders? With Dunne and Richards at the centre of defence and Corluka at right-back the only glaring hole is a first-choice left-back. Neither Michael Ball or Javier Garrido have been terrible but if they could lure someone like Nicky Shorey or Paul Konchesky (just to throw a couple of names out) they’d have a solid starting backline. Nedum Onuoha and Matthew Mills are just two of the good young defenders City currently have on the books that could provide some depth at the back.

For my money what City really missed this season (like the past several seasons) were dependable strikers. Losing Bojinov and then Castillo to long-term injuries did not help. Benjani has not fit into the squad as of yet, but as was the case with his time at Portsmouth, might catch fire after he becomes more comfortable with his teammates.

Unfortunately, it looks like they will lose one or both of Kasper Schmeichel or Andreas Isaksson as they both want (and deserve) a chance at first-team football. I was never sure why Schmeichel lost his starting place. I didn’t think he did anything to lose City points when he was between the sticks. Depending who goes and who stays, City might need to sign an experienced keeper to back up Joe Hart.

There are a few other players that should be sent on their way, many of them currently loaned out anyway. Ousmane Dabo, Emile Mpenza, Jihai Sun, Danny Mills (on-loan to Derby), Paul Dickov, Georgios Samaras, Bernardo Corradi, Rolando Bianchi and though he has popped up with a few goals, Darius Vassell. I’m really undecided about Stephen Ireland as the lad has a lot of talent but seems to have some serious problems away from the game. If he can get his personal life sorted out and focus on football, he’d make a great right-wing to complement Petrov on the left.

Up front, I would keep Daniel Sturridge, Benjani Mwaruwari, Valeri Bojinov, Nery Castillo plus perhaps sign one more for cover.

I’m not suggesting that City not make defensive or midfield signings should a good fit come along. What I would fear if I were a City fan is Sven being sacked. This would mean a new manager coming in, which typically means large changes to the squad. I think City have a strong core to build from and can improve on this year’s showing with a little patience and investment.

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  1. Pingback: Sven to be sacked | EPL Talk

  2. Garry Robinson

    April 18, 2008 at 4:32 am

    It would be I believe wrong for Mr . Eriksson to leave or be pushed from City. My reasons ,- he came, we are assured at short notice. Inherited a ‘side’ and I use that term very loosely that had no form/structure (let alone skill for the most part). Brought in 8 players at the beginning that we are lead to believe he never saw in person due to the time constraints didn’t do that bad there!. We are no longer watching in fear of relagation, we have played football this year which for me has been a revelation. Yes we have been on a bit of a slide recently, easy to see why – we are short ,so short of cover for injuries /form drop etc. We have too much ‘ chaff ‘. I always feared a ‘ knock’ to any of our defenders. We have no cover at the back at all .Ok Michael Ball to be fair has played extremely well on occasion but I would have to say Jihai Sun is not ever going to take City onwards he is and always has been a tryer. As for Onuoha have you seen him play??!! He does not have the quickness of mind for the style of play Mr.Eriksson tries to get us to play. Yes he is quick but his passing is attrocious. He cannot find our side!!He panics with the ball always has and I do not see it changing.Remember City /Newcastle at home. After our shaky start we were relatively comfortable… Corluka picked up an injury Onuoha came on and then it read like this. He took the throw-in straight to their player, seconds later found himself with the ball and got caught in possession. This began a 10 minutes period where we were attacked continuously on our right flank Newcastle spotted our glaring weakness.He is also a terrible ball-watcher!! Sorry to other City fans who may not agree but this is an objective view of him , Newcastle was just an example of his shortfall in ability. Remember Keegans view.. a really quick powerful player who I am afraid has a weakness in his ‘ passing ‘. Fortunately we were allowed to witness for me one of The Wonder Goals which killed off Newcastle.
    We need a clear-out so in as far as that Mr .Shinawatra is correct. If we are to try and compete with the usual suspects at the top then we need to be ruthless. We have to have class cover ! It is wrong to think that the likes of Weiss is the answer give the poor lad a chance a chance!!! Let him come through the ranks smoothly following in the footsteps of I use the term Class players …like the big four do!! He should not be thrown in at the deep end like City of old. We do not need to do that now.
    Mr Eriksson has said from day one we do not expect to really challenge for a top4 place until the third year. Like Ivan above I agree Ireland for all his glimpses of great skill he is not good enough, as for his mind HAH! Vassel is another mystery . We did try Elano playing deep – total failure, ok it was only the once. Gelsen has been a regular yet he was bought for the future so that is how much we are in need in midfield. I also agree if Bianchi had worked we would have been a lot closer to Europe and had Bojinov not got injured I would now be sitting back and enjoying a great season . I would say for certain ( as anyone can be ) Bojinov will light up City.
    Please give Mr.Eriksson the time he needs for goodness sake, we have now our highest ever premiership points total and people are calling for his head !!!
    He has the summer now to take his time and pick HIS players. Then judge him.

  3. Ivan

    April 17, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Apparently people surrounding Thaskin are big supporters of Sven. Don’t think Sven would be too unhappy if he got paid off….don’t think he has bought a home yet in Manchester..last time i read he was living in an hotel.

    Don’t think in a 4-3-3 personally Ireland is good enough. Petrov at times this year has been city’s most direct footballer which you have to when you play on the wing with only one CF. Ireland rarely hits the byline and crosses, perhaps he could play in the AMC position and Elano drop a bit deeper like he does for Brazil. Right winger should be on their shopping list. Geovanni is only on a one year contract and has only been a bit part player so i expect he will leave. IMO upfront they have a glaring hole. Benjani simply isn’t good enough and hasn’t been good enough for them this year. If Sven continues to play 4-3-3 he needs to buy a CF or rely heavily on Bojinov to be the player he has yet to become…

  4. Kartik

    April 17, 2008 at 7:01 pm

    Disgusting on Thaskin’s part. What was he expecting? Avoiding relegation is my only yearly expectation and Sven cleared that hurdle in the first few months.

  5. Ryan

    April 17, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    I think Sven’s done a really nice job this year, the only problem I have is his raging love for Darius Vassell. Sun- Jihai also can’t leave soon enough for me, I really don’t think Left back is that pressing a need, depth is always good but I think Onouha is more than good enough.
    Shame about Smeichel, he seemed to have promise but I believe Joe Hart is the future England #1 so Casper may be an unfortunate casualty. I hope Sven stays for as long as he likes. I’m not thrilled with Thaksin, the Man City website refers to him only as Dr. Thaksin, plus those lingering human rights questions, but he has put new life into a boring boring team last year so I guess I have to deal with him.

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