Manchester City’s Premier League clash with FA Cup finalists Portsmouth has been overshadowed by club owner Thaksin Shinawatra’s veiled criticism of manager Sven Goran Eriksson.
The former Thai Prime Minister caused a stir at Eastlands this week when he announced from Thailand that there would be a review of the club at the end of the season.
Thaksin’s unexpected outburst came after a dip in form by the team but followed a victory at Sunderland, which reignited their slim hopes of a European place.
His remarks inevitably led to speculation Eriksson’s job could be on the line.
Giving his first public response on the affair Eriksson said: “It would have been better if he had not said what he did at this moment.
“But it (his remarks) are out there. If that is his opinion, it is okay.
“It is not a big problem for me. I will do the job as if those things had not been said.”
Asked if he will be seeking assurances about his role, the former England boss said: “I already have assurances. I have a contract, so there is nothing to discuss about my situation.
“There is always pressure – that is why you want jobs in football. I like it.
“I had one year off (after England) and there was no pressure at all. That was absolutely awful.”
While City will be facing the FA Cup finalists at Eastlands, Thaksin will remain in Thailand.
However, he is due to arrive the following weekend when he will hold talks with Eriksson, presumably about the way forward for the club.
The Swede said: “We will have meetings then as he has been busy. He has not been here for a month.
“He is in Thailand at the moment sorting out his private business.
“I have not spoken to him for some weeks but (our relationship) has always been good.”
Thaksin told Eriksson he would be satisfied with a top-10 finish and the City boss said: “I have to believe that.
“I am confident we can achieve that position at least. But we can still make Europe if we finish the season well.
“That was the dream when we started so brightly and it is still achievable.”
Eriksson is taking the blame for City’s season tailing off after they looked odds-on for a UEFA Cup place at least.
He said: “I know the second half of the campaign is not as good as the first.
“We should have done better but we had some players injured and some players whose form suffered.
“It is a long, tough season with no breaks and this is a new, young team. Mentally it is hard.
“Maybe we trained too much over Christmas and new year. That is my fault, but there are signs we are now getting better.”
Eriksson expects Portsmouth to provide difficult opposition.
He said: “They are having a good season and I am sure they will want to get a victory here.
“But if we are to get into Europe we have to win our remaining home games.
“We needed to beat Sunderland and we did, so I am confident of our chances against Portsmouth.”
Portsmouth travel to the north with Lassana Diarra, Milan Baros and John Utaka all back from injury.
Manager Harry Redknapp is likely to recall on-loan Baros as Jermain Defoe’s partner up front, while at the back Glen Johnson is expected to recover in time from a bug that has restricted his training this week.
Redknapp is also looking to rest Niko Kranjcar after a busy spell for the Croatia midfielder.
City defender Micah Richards will be missing depsite recovering from a knee injury.
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