Sven-Goran Eriksson has gone into damage-control overdrive in the wake of his departure from Notts County, left with little choice but to play up his participation in the entire fiasco as that of the innocent sucker.
And maybe he was. Maybe a man with three decades of experience in football management at the highest levels in various countries and in numerous different positions was naive. Hell, this is a man who fell for the Fake Sheikh in 2006, after all.
In an exclusive interview today with Matt Scott of the Guardian, Sven said “I met these two guys and they were very enthusiastic about what they said. They had already bought the club and they wanted to take it to the Premier League. There were a lot of promises about players, about the training ground, the academy; they said they would fix the stadium, that they would buy feeder clubs.”
He goes on to say he had no doubts about the curious desire of these men to pump huge amounts amount of money into a team in England’s fourth tier, adding “I liked the idea of the project, the challenge to do it. It was like a dream to me. And if all their promises had been true, we would have done it. I had no doubts about it in the beginning.”
Even after Sol Campbell left the club after just one game, Sven kept believing the unbelievable, he says. It was only in the aftermath of a bizarre trip to North Korea to discuss managing their national team side that alarm bells started to ring, when the money to fund the grand plans suddenly didn’t appear.
His concluding lament, as framed by Scott in a very generous manner, is “Maybe I trust people too much.” It still seems rather remarkable than when everyone else in world football was wondering who was really behind the shadowy QADBACK consortium, the man at the centre of it all wasn’t even sniffing around for a rat. Fair enough, and he’s even managed to earn a headline in the Daily Mail today as “gentleman Sven” for refusing a pay-off from the club. Good on him.
Judge for yourself by reading the full interview. I’m certainly not suggesting Sven was trying to con anyone, or do anything nefarious here. And I can’t really blame him for just saying he was duped, and hoping to move on, whether he really had an inkling things weren’t quite on the up-and-up sooner than he admits or not. It seems Munto, QADBAK, the Willetts or whoever the hell was behind all this managed to fool a lot of people for a long time. Speaking of which, Peter Trembling….