Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson canceled his regular pre-match news conference yesterday amid reports that he had to talk his players out of boycotting an end-of-season tour.
City play at Liverpool in the Premier League tomorrow but Eriksson changed his routine amid the recent turmoil at the club, with owner Thaksin Shinawatra expected to fire the manager after this month’s tour to Asia.
The former Thai prime minister is disappointed with the team’s performance even though Eriksson has kept the club in the top half of the Premier League all season, and his players were reportedly prepared to go on strike to support him.
Most British papers reported yesterday that City captain Richard Dunne led the squad in offering to sign a letter of protest to Thaksin that would indicate their unwillingness to travel to Thailand and Hong Kong.
The papers, including the Times and the Guardian, reported that Eriksson talked the players out of it in the interest of their own futures.
City have not commented on the reports, but already this week reacted to previous stories about unrest at the club by saying that there will be “a full review of the club at the end of the season” and that the squad was “fully focused on the two remaining games of the current campaign.”
Eriksson’s agent Athole Still has already said that the former England coach is unlikely to stay at City next season after Thaksin publicly expressed his dissatisfaction with results.
The 60-year-old Eriksson took over as City manager in July and had a strong start to the season as City temporarily topped the Premier League. But City have won just seven of their past 26 matches and slipped out of contention for a UEFA Cup spot.
Still said Eriksson would not quit, indicating that Thaksin could be about to fire him even after City beat fierce rivals Manchester United home and away for the first time in 38 years.
The Daily Mirror reported yesterday that Thaksin had already agreed to hire Luiz Felipe Scolari as a replacement, although the Portugal coach cannot join until after the June 7 to June 29 European Championship.
Eriksson signed a three-year contract when he joined, so Thaksin would likely have to pay him off for the remainder of his deal.