Sven-Goran Eriksson has revealed he signed a contract to become Manchester United manager in 2002.
|Scen-Goran Eriksson with Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008|
Sven-Goran Eriksson claims in a new book that he agreed to succeed Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager and actually signed an agreement to do so.
Ferguson had planned to retire in 2002, prompting United officials to offer a contract to Eriksson, who was then England manager. But Ferguson subsequently reversed his decision to leave Old Trafford, so Eriksson never took up the position, instead carrying on as England manager until 2006.
Writing in his autobiography Sven: My Story, which is being serialised in the Mail on Sunday, Eriksson disclosed: “I knew it would be tricky. I had a contract with England until the 2006 World Cup and I would be severely criticised if I broke that contract. But this was an opportunity to manage Manchester United.
A contract was signed — I was United’s new manager.”
Eriksson revealed that the agent Pini Zahavi still has in his office the contract stating Eriksson would be United’s new manager.
That Eriksson would have succeeded Ferguson has long been widely speculated but Eriksson’s book is the first confirmation that the Swede had a signed agreement with a club at a time when his contract with the Football Association had a further four years to run.
Eriksson new book, which includes fine detail about a series of his love affairs, also tells of some of the disputes he had with Ferguson over United players on England duty. In his own recently published autobiography, Ferguson said he believed Eriksson should never have taken Wayne Rooney to the World Cup finals in 2006 after the striker suffered a broken metatarsal bone.
Eriksson confirms in his book that Ferguson sought to persuade him not to pick Rooney. Eriksson said the striker’s agent Paul Stretford contacted the England manager to tell him that, contrary to Ferguson’s wishes, the player himself did want to be part of the squad for the finals in Germany.
Eriksson also claimed Ferguson told him to select the United defender Rio Ferdinand for England’s international against Turkey in October 2003 even though the FA had ordered Eriksson not to do so because Ferdinand had missed a drug test.
Eriksson insists he has great respect for Ferguson but said that, in the case of the Ferdinand affair, he had to advise the Scot to “call and yell at someone else”.