Tue, May 06, 2008 - Page 19 News List

Reds win, Eriksson closer to City exit

TERRIFIC TORRESFernando Torres scored his 23rd Premier League goal and equaled Roger Hunt’s record of scoring in eight consecutive home games at Anfield

AFP , LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND

Liverpool’s Lucas, front, attempts an overhead kick as Manchester City’s Michael Johnson looks on during their Premier League match at Anfield in Liverpool, England, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Sven-Goran Eriksson has conceded not even Manchester City fans’ mass show of support for him in the 1-0 defeat at Liverpool will be enough to prevent owner Thaksin Shinawatra from sacking him before the start of next season.

Speculation has been mounting in recent weeks that Shinawatra will dismiss the Swede even though Eriksson will deliver on the target of a top-half finish during his first season in charge at Eastlands.

Following reports that Eriksson was told the previous Sunday, the day after the shock 3-2 defeat by Fulham, at meeting with Shinawatra he was on his way out, the former England manager has refused to talk about his future.

He tried to deflect attention away from the topic following Sunday’s loss at Anfield, but did say the backing of City’s traveling support was unlikely to influence the former Thai prime minister.

Asked if he thought the City fans could change Shinawatra’s mind, Eriksson replied: “I don’t think so. We have one week before the season is finished so I would appreciate it if we could start talking next Monday. The support is fantastic, of course it is. It makes me stand up from the bench a lot. Especially if you see that all this support and we haven’t won anything. That’s fantastic and it’s nice that they [the fans] believe the club has a future and we are on the right track.”

On only one occasion did Eriksson show his frustration at being denied the opportunity to see through the three-year plan that he came to Eastlands for beyond one season.

“The reason I accepted Manchester City was the project,” he said. “It was the club of course, but also the Premier League. It’s a project and it’s a fantastic idea to be building up something new. I think it’s a good start if you compare where the club was a year ago.”

When he was asked if he knew deep down whether he would be leaving or not, Eriksson replied: “No more comments please ... maybe.”

He insisted he will take City on their tour to Thailand and Hong Kong at the end of the season.

“It’s a combination of football and holidays so I don’t think that will be too bad. The weather is better than here,” he said.

The issue overshadowed a Liverpool win secured by Fernando Torres’ 23rd Premier League goal, which saw him equal Roger Hunt’s club record of scoring in eight successive home matches.

Torres has now scored 32 goals in all in his debut season in English soccer and already gone some way to repaying the faith Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez showed in spending a club record £27 million (US$53.2 million) to bring the Spain striker from Atletico Madrid last July.

“It was another great goal,” Benitez said.

“Without penalties, it’s an amazing number of goals. It’s fantastic for him, fantastic for the supporters and the club, now and in the future,” he said.

John Arne Riise, Jermaine Pennant and Peter Crouch, each linked with moves away from Liverpool, were all absent from Benitez’s squad.

And they took no part in the post-match lap of honor as players thanked fans after Liverpool’s final home game of the season.

But Benitez, who again refused to comment on his interest in Aston Villa’s Gareth Barry, said: “It’s normal. When the players aren’t in the squad, sometimes they don’t come here.”

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