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What next for Sven?

Simon Austin | 12:44 UK time, Tuesday, 7 April 2009

If managerial success is measured by the number of zeros on your bank balance, then the last few years have been a triumph for Sven-Goran Eriksson.

After being sacked by Mexico last week, the Swede was given his third seven-figure pay-off in three years.

Yet his CV suggests a once-glittering career is going off the rails. Eriksson was fired after just 10 months with Mexico, following a solitary season at Manchester City.

The Swede is now eager to embark on a "project" at an ambitious club in the Premier League, according to his right-hand man Tord Grip.

The Mexican media criticised Eriksson's squad selections"We would like to return to the Premier League next year," Grip told BBC Sport. "Sven did a very good job at City and he has the same hunger and passion for football that he did at the start of his career.

"The last couple of years have been tough. We want to go to a good club where we can stay for a few years and work on a long-term project."

So where might he go next? Eriksson has been linked with Sunderland and Portsmouth contacted him after they sacked Tony Adams in February.

"Portsmouth spoke to Sven," Grip confirmed, "but he told them he wanted to finish his project with Mexico.

"Sven loved it in Mexico - the climate was great and the people were very friendly.

"And the Mexican FA was adamant he was the right man to take them to the 2010 World Cup."

Pompey have recently said they are happy with the managerial double act of Paul Hart and Brian Kidd, who have led them away from the relegation zone, however.

So would you want Eriksson in charge at your club next season? His club record certainly puts him in the upper echelon of European managers.Grip (right) was employed as Mexico's chief scout

Backed by the financial muscle of Sergio Cragnotti, he won the Italian league and cup double with Lazio in 2000.

But he has also achieved success with relatively meagre resources, winning the Uefa Cup with Gothenburg in 1982 and reaching the final of the European Cup with Benfica in 1990.

And despite the stick he got at the end of his time with England, reaching the quarter-finals at three successive tournaments now seems a decent achievement.

The question, I suppose, is whether Eriksson is the same manager who achieved such success.

A few years ago, Portuguese journalist Alberto da Silva, who knew Eriksson well when he was at Benfica, told me the Swede was not the same manager he had known.

"Then he was younger, more ambitious and driven to succeed," da Silva told me. "He has been changed by age, experience, money and women."

The affable Grip laughs at this suggestion and insists Eriksson would have led Mexico to the 2010 World Cup.

"We had plenty of games left and I have no doubt at all that we would have qualified.

"It always takes time to make your mark in a new job and we certainly had some bad luck."

The Mexican media started to turn on Eriksson after Mexico could only scrape through the penultimate World Cup qualifying round on goal difference ahead of Jamaica.

They were further inflamed when the Swede selected four naturalised "foreign players" - the Argentines Matias Vuoso and Lucas Ayala and the Brazilian duo Leandro Augusto and Antonio Nelson - for the friendly against Sweden in January.

"Unlike in Britain, the Mexican media had no interest in Sven's private life," Grip said, "but they were impatient about results."

Grip says he and Eriksson were impressed with the standard of Mexico's players but they were hampered by the fact that many - such as Arsenal's Carlos Vela, Nery Castillo of Shakhtar Donetsk, Villarreal's Guillermo Franco and Tottenham's Giovani dos Santos - were not being picked regularly by their clubs.

And crucially, the team's talisman, Barcelona defender Rafael Marquez, was suspended for the qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.

Mexico have now appointed their fifth manager in little more than a year, former Atletico Madrid boss Javier Aguirre.

Meanwhile, Grip says Eriksson is preparing to leave the country and spend the summer in either Sweden or South Africa, where his son runs a football academy.

After that he hopes his next destination will be the Premier League. Would you welcome him to your club?

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