By Nick Harris
SJA Internet Sports Writer of the Year
31 July 2011
Sven Goran Erikkson has backed Jose Mourinho as a future manage of England, and has sensationally not ruled himself out of taking the post again at some stage.
The Swede, now in charge of Leicester, went head to head with the Special One yesterday as Leicester played Real Madrid in a friendly.
Eriksson’s side lost 2-1 but the match was played in front of capacity crowd on 32,188, and was screened live in Asia at the behest of Leicester’s Thai owners.
Speaking in the run-up to the game, Eriksson said Mourinho was passionate about England even when he was the Chelsea boss.
‘He was probably the best club manager to deal with when I was with England,’ said Eriksson, England manager himself from 2001 to 2006.
‘He had absolutely no secrets about his players. He told me everything about them – and he had a lot of England players. There were never any claims about his players being injured [to get out of England duty] for friendly games.
‘He always said of course his players should play in the national team, he thought it was brilliant they played for England.’
On Mourinho’s credentials, Eriksson added: ‘I think what he has done during the last seven or eight years makes him the best, certainly one of the best, managers around. When he’s finished at Real he won’t be short of offers, so why not?
‘If you’re a good manager, it’s my belief that you’re just as able to manage a club or a country. It’s about picking the best players and getting them to perform so of course he could do it.
‘I understand Jose’s special relationship with England too. If you’ve worked in England in football, then leave for another country, it’s not the same. You love it, whether you are a player, coach or manager. So, I understand Jose wants to come back.’
Eriksson said he didn’t think the FA would be concerned at hiring yet another foreign manager. ‘Do you think the discussion that you must be English to be the England manager is still going on?’ he said. ‘I don’t think so. If the FA appoint Mourinho, nobody would complain.’
Eriksson seemed not to know that Fabio Capello’s tenure as England manager is set to end after the European Championships.
During a pre-match interview at the King Power Stadium, I asked Eriksson directly if he himself would take the England job again. Eriksson replied without hesitation: ‘Yes’.
A press officer quickly interjected, smiling: ‘But not yet.’
Eriksson has been given all the financial support he has requested by the club’s owners and is now expected to win promotion to the Premier League at the end of the coming season.
Eriksson maintains he did a good job with England – and given the record of his successors, including Capello, his achievements with England look better the more years that pass. Eriksson also maintains that the English press ultimately cost him his job, and that English fans always acknowledged he did a good job.