Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Eriksson releases statement as O'Neill speculation grows

The fall-out from Sven Goran Eriksson's departure as Leicester City manager continues as the shocking news settles and Foxes' fans come to terms with the news.

"It was always my aim to lead the club into the Premier League," said Eriksson, "I am very sorry that I won't be able to do that," he added, "I have always thought, and still believe now, that the club will be promoted this season. The current squad is capable and ready to achieve promotion, but football is a results industry and unfortunately we couldn't quite get things right enough of the time."

Eriksson released his statement through the League Managers' Association, the body who condemned Leicester City Football Club for their rashness after the sacking of Paulo Sousa a year ago.

"To the players; old, new, everyone in the squad, I would like to say thank you. You are a talented group and I am hopeful that you will achieve success very soon. To the staff at the club; both at the stadium and the training ground - you treated me like a king and I shall miss working with you all. Last but not least, to the fans; I want to say a huge thank you for your support. You are fantastic people and I will never forget the way you welcomed me in to your club. I am just sorry that I won't be on the bench the day you reach the Premier League."

Eriksson finished his statement with an emotional message: "Being the manager of Leicester City was an absolute pleasure and I wish everyone connected with the club the best of luck. Leicester City is a great club and I am certain that with the current owners in charge the club will go from strength to strength."

Martin O'Neill is favourite to replace the Swede in the King Power Stadium hot-seat as he ruled-out the possibility of becoming the next manager of Northern Ireland. Nigel Worthington quit after a 3-0 defeat to Italy a fortnight ago and O'Neill would have been a popular choice - but the ex-Aston Villa boss played-down any speculation. He said that he wants another chance in the Premier League and wishes to return to club management.

And, with Eriksson relieved of his post, the path is clear for O'Neill to make an emotional return to the East Midlands. The Belfast Telegraph reports that O'Neill could be tempted to return to the club at which he made his name - the 59-year-old took Leicester to Wembley four times, winning two league cups and a play off trophy and led the Foxes to eighth place in the Premier League in 2000, their highest league finish since 1976. After being tempted by Celtic, O'Neill moved north of the border and won three titles in four seasons with the Bhoys.

O'Neill's stock remains high despite his leaving Aston Villa under a cloud over a year ago: he fell out with Villains' owner Randy Learner over transfer funding. Indeed, O'Neill remains as a common name mentioned with many vacant Premier League managerial positions, not least as a potential successor to Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United.

Whether he could be tempted to move back to Leicester - and whether or not that would be a shrewd move for as canny a man as O'Neill - remains, for now, to be seen.

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