Ex-England boss Sven-Göran Eriksson has opened up about his difficult relationship with the media during his time in charge of the national side, admitting that he hadn’t been prepared for the close scrutiny of his personal life.
Eriksson took charge of a struggling England side in January 2001 after the resignation of Kevin Keegan, and became the first non-British national to lead the team.
The Swedish-born tactician managed to inspire the side to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, where they were knocked out by eventual winners Brazil in the quarter finals. But, after failures to progress further with a talented squad in the following European Championships and 2006 World Cup, scrutiny on Eriksson intensified.
This resulted in media stories circulating about the manager’s relationship with model Ulrika Jonsson, as well as being duped by an undercover News of The World reporter in the ‘Fake Sheik’ scandal.
Now, looking back on his time as England coach on the BBC’s Sacked in the Morning podcast, Eriksson began by admitting that the football media is the “same all over the world”, but he stressed that the scrutiny that had come with his role managing England had been extraordinary.
“If you have a football job and there’s a lot of pressure on you, then you have a good football job… so it’s good to have the pressure,” he acknowledged.
“What is difficult to accept in England is the other side of the press, that sometimes I thought, ‘are they really more interested in my private life than my professional life?’
“Sometimes it looked like that, and I never understood it, and I never really accepted it. After a while I didn’t read it and I couldn’t care less.”
Eriksson eventually stepped down as national manager after the 2006 World Cup, and went on to manage Manchester City, as well as embarking on a surprising – and short-lived – spell as director of football at League Two side Notts County.
And, just as Eriksson was lured to Notts County under false pretences, he claimed that he had felt manipulated by the media during his time in charge of England.
“I don’t think they were fair, they did everything. They paid a lot of money just to have scandal, or wherever it was they said,” he continued. “You have to accept it if you have a job in England, or you go. And I chose to accept it.”
Later on in the podcast, Eriksson opened up about the regrets he had during his time as England manager, revealing that he wished he had taken a “mental coach” for penalties to the World Cup after his side crashed out to Portugal in the quarter-final.
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism