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David Dein Reveals He Was Told Sven-Goran Eriksson’s Weaknesses Are Women

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“Women,” Athole Still replied simply. Now that was an answer I wasn’t expecting. I had just asked the charismatic agent if his valued client had any weaknesses.

Athole is one of the good guys. I had no idea he was an opera singer. I was as surprised by his information about the number 1 target of the FA as the England coach.

Women! “Okay,” I said to Athole. “I think we can live with that!”

I was told by his agent that Sven-Goran Eriksson’s biggest weakness was women

It was clear to me that Eriksson was the only man who chose to move England forward

It was clear to me that Eriksson was the only man who chose to move England forward

Sven certainly lived up to its reputation over the next five years.

I like moments like this when you have to be decisive. It’s the national team here, so who will be the best person to take the country forward?

Before me there was only one man. Sven Goran Eriksson.

He eventually resigned from Lazio on January 9, 2001 and soon arrived in London. “Come to a game in Highbury as a guest, Sven,” I told him. “You’ll enjoy it.” And I noticed he did!

When Sven entered the boardroom, I was standing with my wife Barbara and one of her attractive friends, Sarah, who happened to be divorced.

Sven was quick out of the box and immediately asked Sarah what she did for a living. “I design lampshades,” she said. Sven replied with a smile: ‘I need lampshades!’

I said, ‘Sven, you live in the Royal Lancaster hotel!’ Athole immediately gave me a tip!

After England's 5-1 win over Germany in Munich, Eriksson was public hero No. 1

After England’s 5-1 win over Germany in Munich, Eriksson was public hero No. 1

After England’s 5-1 win over Germany in Munich the following September, Sven was public hero No. 1, especially after David Beckham’s amazing free kick against Greece at Old Trafford that took England to the 2002 World Cup.

After a rough patch, everything on the inside with England was measured and positive.

However, external distractions were not so manageable. Ulrika Jonsson’s story broke out before we went to the World Cup in Japan.

Sven was involved with the Swedish TV presenter and her au pair ended up with some revelations about it. His relationship with Nancy Dell’Olio made headlines, especially when she showed up at a cocktail party at 10 Downing Street in a firetruck red catsuit. She got on well with my wife Barbara and David Davies’ wife, Susan and the three got along well.

 

Eriksson and Nancy Dell'Olio's relationship made headlines

Eriksson and Nancy Dell’Olio’s relationship made headlines

The Eriksson and Ulrika Jonsson story broke out just before the 2002 World Cup

Eriksson's relationship with Faria Alam, David Davies' PA, drew a lot of headlines

The story about Eriksson and Ulrika Jonsson (left) broke out just before the 2002 World Cup, while his relationship with Faria Alam (right), David Davies’ PA, made headlines

Sven took all these headlines on his foot. When things started to get lively in his private life, he just laughed at the reaction.

When a door closed on one drama involving England, another opened. I knew how difficult the FA was when I read a few months later about Sven’s flirtation with Chelsea. They were tipped off that The Sun was about to publish a story that Sven met Chelsea’s chief executive Peter Kenyon to discuss whether he would become their manager. Seriously? Where’s the loyalty? I went to Sven’s house in Regent’s Park, North London, to discover a huge chaos outside with reporters and TV crews; you could barely move.

We’d had a challenging Friday night and Saturday morning, as Sven had his phone turned off until mid-morning. When he was finally reached, he had advised people at the FA that he was leaving for Chelsea. Sven seemed totally unperturbed by all the fuss. I kind of admired how he could rise above all the chaos – chaos he had caused.

Sven just told us he was flattered that Chelsea offered him a lot of money. We worked on him and convinced him that he still had a lot of work to do with England. Sven promised to stay.

Eriksson caused chaos by meeting Peter Kenyon to discuss how he would become Chelsea manager

Eriksson caused chaos by meeting Peter Kenyon to discuss how he would become Chelsea manager

The News of the World had a chapter and verse about Sven’s relationship with Faria Alam, David Davies’ PA. It was no secret that Sven was attracted to her. Every time I went to Soho Square to see David, Sven was always hanging out in his office. I didn’t have to be Poirot to find out what was going on.

Faria told the FA nothing was wrong and an official statement on Monday afternoon ruined the story. David Davies contacted Sven, who also said, “It’s bullshit.”

Sven felt his private life was his business and I had some sympathy, but this had a direct impact on the FA.

Anyway, it seemed to be getting quiet, but my peace was interrupted on July 25 by the News of the World headline: “I put Sven and his boss to bed.” I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Faria had also slept with Mark Palios. It was such a mess. Sven was typically unflappable when we went to the pre-season Amsterdam tournament to watch Arsenal.

I found Sven and took him to my room. “Sven, this is serious, I have to ask you honestly, are you having an affair with the FA secretary?”

Sven’s eyes rolled. “No, but I would like to.”

Eriksson clashed with Sir Alex Ferguson over decision to play star striker Wayne Rooney (above) at the 2006 World Cup in Germany

Eriksson clashed with Sir Alex Ferguson over decision to play star striker Wayne Rooney (above) at the 2006 World Cup in Germany

Ferguson was furious that England bet on Rooney's recovery from broken metatarsal

Ferguson was furious that England bet on Rooney’s recovery from broken metatarsal

The only time I ever saw Sven annoyed was when Sir Alex Ferguson called him at our World Cup base in 2006.

Fergie was furious that Wayne Rooney would play in the World Cup, while England bet on his recovery from a broken metatarsal bone.

“You’re done,” he shouted. Sven has lost it. “F**k off,” he said. “Alex, I’ll choose Rooney. Happy Holidays. Ciao, bye.’

Overall, I believe Sven was a success. Of course he wasn’t perfect. He was flawed – as we found out.

My dream ticket was Ferguson and Graham

I had the idea of ​​having Alex Ferguson succeed Don Howe, while another board member suggested George Graham. George ticked many of the boxes. He looked good and as a former 1971 doubles player, he knew the Arsenal values.

That had a big impact on management. Some notably bigger names were suggested, including Terry Venables and Johan Cruijff, but in the end it really came down to Alex and George. The board thought George could get the job done. He was young, ambitious and hungry. He was elegant and always well dressed. He started lower down to learn the ropes of management.

I had the idea to have Sir Alex Ferguson succeed Don Howe as Arsenal manager

I had the idea to have Sir Alex Ferguson succeed Don Howe as Arsenal manager

He knew many players from the lower division, which was an asset in England, to try and shape something with clever recruiting.

But even though George had the connection to Arsenal, he had yet to cut his teeth in the big time. He was in the lower divisions at Millwall and that was his first managerial job. I thought it might be a risk. Alex, on the other hand, had more experience and more success.

His team in Aberdeen had been a revelation and won impressively, including in Europe. So I brought up the idea of ​​a double act – that we bring Alex in as No. 1 with George to be his No. 2.

The idea was that Ferguson would be appointed with George Graham as his assistant

The idea was that Ferguson would be appointed with George Graham as his assistant

The combination could be a dream ticket, the two Scots combine many qualities with the potential to be even more ambitious in the top division in England. I knew Alex and knew Aberdeen’s chairman, Dick Donald. I carefully probed him to see if Alex would be interested.

In the end, I went along with the decision to appoint George. He wanted more money than we ultimately offered. I remember him saying, “This isn’t what I was looking for, but if I pass, I’m not cheap!”

True to his word, he would come to the office the day after winning a trophy to remind us.

l Adapted from Calling the Shots: How to Win in Football and Life by David Dein, to be released September 15th by Constable for £22. © David Dein 2022. To order a copy for £19.80 (offer valid until 24/09/22; UK P&P free on orders over £20), visit www.mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3176 2937

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