Sven-Goran Eriksson, the beleaguered Manchester City manager, enters what could be his final game in charge of the Premiership club at Middlesbrough on Sunday insisting he would still like to remain in the post.
The club's controversial Thai owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, remains silent over whether he will dismiss the former England manager after just one relatively successful season in charge — a season that could yet end with City qualifying for the UEFA Cup through the place awarded to England under UEFA's Fair Play initiative.
Eriksson has largely retained his dignity and silence through the recent, unlikely sequence of events.
But, even though all indications are that he will be dismissed less than 12 months into his reign, the Swede insists he would remain with City if given the opportunity.
“I don't think there's any doubt about that,” said Eriksson. “You've been seeing me twice a week more or less and you know from the press conferences we've had there are no doubts about that.
“I like the club, l like the fans I like the players we have, I like the project. It's very important to know one thing — it's a big football club, great players, great staff, great people. That's reason enough to be happy as long as you're in the job.
“I know there's been a lot of speculation but that's speculation and not a problem. The facts we'll know next week. The speculation has gone on more than this week so this week is no different to the week before. The players are working hard and we want to finish with a good game.”
City's form has tailed off dramatically in the second half of the season although as recently as March, Thaksin was describing his aim for this campaign as a top ten finish with the owner expecting to qualify for the UEFA Cup next year, a target which Eriksson may have delivered a year ahead of schedule.
“Yes, I think this has been a successful season, I would believe so,” said Eriksson. “We came in, bought a lot of new players. I know perfectly that we haven't played brilliant football 37 games but many times we've played very well.
“It's a new team it's a young team and we are at the right side of the table I think. We could be eighth, maybe seventh but probably not.
“As the situation is today it's a possibility this will be my last game, of course it is. That's not a secret for anyone in the world of football today. Let's see. Let's have the last game and have a little bit of patience.
“I will have emotions about it but as the situation is today it's a possibility but nothing is confirmed.”
Eriksson's opposite number on Sunday, Gareth Southgate, reflected the general reaction in football to the position in which the veteran manager finds himself.
“Everybody in football's surprised at the situation at City,” said Southgate.
“From the outside he appears to have done an excellent job. Every club has a chairman and an owner and they make the decisions. I'm very fortunate here to have the backing of someone who is looking longer term but I don't think anyone would question the job Sven's done this season.
“There's been huge pressure on the players but now we're safe it'll be nice for them to go out and play the final game without any inhibitions.”
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