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Friday, May 9, 2008

Sven's fan club do their bit but exit still looms after City lose to Liverpool

Sven's fan club do their bit but exit still looms after City lose to Liverpool

He insists on maintaining The Iceman image to the last, but Sven Goran Eriksson still said enough on Sunday to confirm that his Manchester City tenure has only a matter of weeks to run.

City's former England coach was serenaded by 3,000 travelling fans from start to finish and repeatedly acknowledged their backing with a wave of the hand and bow of the head.

It was an outpouring of support for Eriksson delivered in hope, if not expectancy, that Thaksin Shinawatra may have a rethink over dispensing with the 60-year-old Swede after just one season in charge.

Asked if it might achieve its objective, though, Eriksson pointedly replied: "No, I don't think it will make any difference to my position."

Banners, Swedish flags and Eriksson face masks in the away end spelt out the overwhelming dismay among City fans at the way last Sunday's meeting between the owner and manager had ended with the most acrimonious of splits.

If that did not get their message across, the noise that followed did, as the usual Blue Moon rendition gave way to chorus after chorus of "Thaksin, leave our Sven alone", sung to Pink Floyd's The Wall.

Finally sunk by a record-equalling goal from Fernando Torres, Eriksson shook hands with Rafa Benitez at the end before striding towards the Anfield Road End and raising a clenched fist in a rare show of emotion.

He had resolved to maintain a diplomatic silence over his future, for another week at least, but there were enough indicators in a good humoured Press conference to give the game away.

"I've never known such an incredible level of personal support for me at any time in my managerial career and I am so grateful for it," he said.

"It meant I had to keep getting up from the bench to wave to them, but that's OK. I can do that. I want to say a big thank-you to the supporters, because they have been fantastic and were amazing again today.

"But I don't think it will make any difference to my position. One week should pass quickly enough and we can talk then.

"I know my agent has apparently said he doubts I will still be here next season, but perhaps agents should work more and not talk. I haven't spoken to him about it, just as I haven't spoken to the owner since last Sunday.

"All I will say is that I accepted the job here not just because it was a big club in the Premier League but because I saw it as a project. It was a fantastic opportunity to build something new and make it better.

"We have achieved our initial target of a top-10 finish, but whether we will be able to take it further, we will have to see. Do I know my fate? Maybe, but I think that is enough on that subject."

Given that Eriksson apparently objected to what he saw as interference from Thaksin, it was significant he dismissed questions about any reticence over his future by saying: "I haven't been told not to say anything. At my age, I don't need anyone telling me what to do."

Liverpool's players appeared to be doing their bit for the pro- Eriksson lobby as they passed up the chance of a landslide win that would have given the missing City owner ammunition.

It was due partly to the brilliance of Joe Hart, who launched a stunning display with a flying save from Steven Gerrard in the 32nd minute.

The Liverpool skipper had fizzed one drive narrowly wide when he took aim and curled a shot that looked bound for the top corner until Hart took off to palm it round at full stretch.

There was nothing he could do about a 58th-minute winner from Torres. The £21million record signing latched on to a Dirk Kuyt header and went past Richard Dunne as if he wasn't there before sliding home his 23rd Barclays Premier League goal of the season.

It put him alongside former Manchester United star Ruud van Nistelrooy for the highest tally by a foreign import in his debut season and emulated Anfield legend Roger Hunt's 46-year-old feat of scoring in eight home league games on the trot.

He belongs in such elevated company after an exceptional start to his Liverpool career.

City threatened briefly when Elano clipped a post with a free-kick and Benjani later tested Pepe Reina, but Liverpool would have been out of sight with greater care near goal.

Kuyt drew a spectacular save from Hart in the 61st minute and hit the bar with a header four minutes later.

The erratic Holland front-runner also directed a header straight at Hart when he should have scored and sent another wide.

Benitez said: "Maybe we have to work hard in the summer to make sure we take more chances, but Torres was amazing again."'s+fan+club+do+their+bit+but+exit+still+looms+after+City+lose+to+Liverpool/

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