Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Romantic Eriksson picked up by Magpies

The little man's popped up again. Sven-Goran Eriksson, the bookish and mild mannered former England manager, has re-ignited his love affair with English football. Trouble is, this time our dear Sven has not chosen a young busty lovely with which to while away his lonely hours.

Oh no, Mr Eriksson has chosen the most aged babe at the bar. Notts County, at 147 years old, are the oldest professional football club in the world, with a history that pre-dates the Football Association, and now - due in no small part to County's recent takeover by Middle Eastern moneybags Mundo Finance - the famous Swede has moved to Meadow Lane to become the League 2 club's Director of Football. Yes, Director of Football. Yes, very 2005.

Notts County fans are, as one would expect, roundly ecstatic at bringing such a famous name to their club, with their more experienced fans comparing it to when County last upset the applecart, snaring Tommy Lawton, England's most feared marksman, in 1948.

Whilst there is no doubting this is an exciting move for County, some may say the opposite is true for Sven. Athole Still, Eriksson's agent, claimed 2 months ago that his client would "love to return to England", and at that point one would have expected Eriksson to draw the line at the top 20-placed English league teams, much less plumping for the team that finished 87th on the football league ladder last May.

But maybe, his detractors would claim, Sven is only doing what he has done throughout his career - chasing the cash. Whilst he built an incredible side at Lazio at the turn of the century, the side was lavishly put together and cost over £270 million of President Sergio Cragnotti's hard-earned Lira. His two stints in England, as national team manager and at Manchester City, were paid handsomely by clueless bigwigs and Thai billionaires respectively, whilst his most recent sojourn as Mexico head coach netted him £3.5 million per annum.

Or maybe we British are too cynical. Whilst our favourite Swede's jobs have often enjoyed a bounteous salary, he often chooses the romantic option. On and off the pitch. When he arrived at Lazio, the Roman club were a sleeping giant with just one Scudetto in their history, intent on rediscovering their glorious past. Ditto Manchester City, a once proud club who, with marked parallels to Notts County, now sit in the shadow of their famous neighbours.

As for Sven's most famous job, there is no doubt that even for a foreigner, the opportunity to re-unite football's mother country with sport's most cherished prize would appeal to but the hardened football fan.

The same is the case then with County, albeit to a smaller scale. Backed with a generous budget, Sven will try to restore a proud team to the heights they once enjoyed. Who couldn't find the romance in that?

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