LMA keen to 'draw line under' latest Sven saga

January 19, 2006

The League Managers' Association may feel they have now 'drawn a line' under the controversy surrounding Sven-Goran Eriksson but the saga seems likely to rumble on after Wigan chairman Dave Whelan called for the England head coach to be sacked.

Whelan is renowned as Eriksson's most forthright critic, so his latest outburst is hardly unexpected, but the Swede has escaped public criticism from the LMA.

Howard Wilkinson - the organisation's chairman and Eriksson's predecessor as England manager in a caretaker role while Football Association technical director - has called for a united front to support the national team in the build-up to the World Cup.

It is understood the LMA have expressed concerns to the FA in relation to Eriksson's suggestion to the undercover reporter - who was posing as an Arab sheikh - that he should buy Aston Villa and install him as the new manager.

But, after talks with FA chief executive Brian Barwick, Wilkinson has now called for an end to the affair.

Wilkinson said: 'We have drawn a line under it. Our position on the matter is that the unfortunate incident is now finished and that of prime importance is England's success next summer.

'The LMA, and all our managers, will be doing our best to support the England team and the FA in pursuit of success in the World Cup.'

Whelan, however, believes there should be no way back for Eriksson after he negotiated with an undercover reporter about a future job and revealed private conversations with senior players.

The Wigan chairman said in his Manchester Evening News column: 'I have criticised Eriksson in the past, but there should be no way back from this.

'It is an absolute scandal, a disgrace. You simply do not expect the England manager to openly discuss his future plans and to air his views about what he thinks about players in his squad.

'He has broken one of the game's golden rules. It is gross misconduct and the man has to go.'

Villa manager David O'Leary released an angry statement on Tuesday through the LMA, and the organisation confirmed it had been in talks with the FA.

A statement said: 'It is true that we discussed the situation. These observations will remain entirely confidential but we can confirm that very positive conversations have taken place with Howard Wilkinson, LMA chief executive John Barnwell and FA chief executive Brian Barwick.

'The LMA wishes to reiterate its total support and backing for England in this year's 2006 World Cup.

'A successful performance by England is of paramount importance to everyone connected with football in this country.

'Our managers will continue to give Sven and the FA their complete support and backing as they have done consistently over many years.'

Soho Square chiefs are unlikely to give Whelan's views too much credence, or his suggestion that Eriksson should be replaced by a joint managerial dream team of Paul Jewell and Stuart Pearce.

However, it is another example of the unwanted publicity Eriksson's ill-advised meeting in Dubai has brought.

Eriksson made no comment on the saga when he attended the launch of a football project in south east London with his partner, Nancy Dell'Olio, yesterday morning.

'We are here for children and Truce, nothing else,' Eriksson declared, in reference to organisers Truce International's Football for Peace campaign as he was instantly surrounded by cameras and journalists after stepping out of his car.