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Nov 5, 2013

Eriksson slams "absurd" El Tri setup in new book

Sven-Goran Eriksson has lifted the lid on his time with Mexico's national team in his new autobiography "Sven: My Story," criticizing the way El Tri is run.

Eriksson writes of his disbelief that he was made to report regularly on national team matters to Mexican first division club owners, indicating it would be "unthinkable" for the same to have happened in England.

- Smith: Sven tells all in memoir

"It was absurd," he writes. "I could not report to several different people who all had different interests. I'd always been clear that I wanted to report to one person ... but that's not how it works in Mexico.

"There it was important to make allies with the people high up in the football establishment, as if that would help the national team win games."

The book -- out on Tuesday -- comes at a time when the role of club owners in the national team has once again come to the fore, after Mexico's disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign and with El Tri facing a playoff against New Zealand to reach Brazil 2014.

And with Mexican federation president Justino Compean also under fire for another World Cup cycle that has seen four different coaches at the helm, Eriksson reveals that Compean told him in their first meeting that Javier Aguirre was the preferred choice for the job in 2008, but that the Mexican was unavailable due to his role as Atletico Madrid coach.

"I had always been first choice in my previous jobs," writes Eriksson.

The Swede adds that his annual salary was almost two million euros per year (not including bonuses) and that the stated aim was to reach the World Cup quarterfinal.

But, complains Eriksson, "I had enemies in Mexican football from the first day to the last."

The former Lazio boss clearly enjoyed living in Mexico in his vast apartment in the upmarket Polanco neighborhood in Mexico City and was impressed by the level of soccer the country had to offer.

"The quality of football was at a higher level than expected and interest in the game was enormous," he states. "Around the clock people talked about football."

But the thing Eriksson returns to repeatedly is his incredulity that owners had such power to meddle in his job.

"It was more or less the club owners that decided how the national team should be run, at least that's how things ran before I got there," he writes.

Eriksson reserves particular ire for Chivas owner Jorge Vergara, whom he had to meet to explain the Feb. 11, 2009, loss to the United States in Columbus, Ohio.

Eriksson says, "It was almost like I was answering accusations at some kind of tribunal," and adds that Vergara demanded to know why the goalkeeping coach hadn't been fired and why the team stayed in a certain hotel.

"Each question was dumber than the next," opines the current manager of Chinese club Guangzhou.

In other CONCACAF tidbits, Eriksson reveals his frustration at U.S. Soccer playing that World Cup qualifier in a freezing Columbus, Ohio, but adds that Mexico also carried out such "dirty tricks," such as playing Canada in intense Chiapas heat in September 2008.

"That's how things were done in CONCACAF," says Eriksson.

The 65-year-old also claims that current U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati tried to recruit him as that country's national team coach ahead of the 1994 World Cup in the U.S., before Bora Milutinovic was hired.

Bringing it back south of the border, Eriksson was left with a positive impression of Mexico and Mexicans as a whole and was still confident after he was fired that he could've turned qualifying for the 2010 World Cup around.

"[Mexicans] were very polite, which is something that stood in stark contrast to the negative image of Mexico that is generally broadcast around the world," writes Eriksson.