Eriksson walks into yet another scandal
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson insists he remains '100% committed' to the England job and believes his relationship with the players 'has not been damaged in any way' by revelations in the News of the World.
The Football Association have confirmed their support for the Swede who told an undercover reporter - posing as a rich Arab - that he would quit as England coach if they win the World Cup this summer, and suggested he would be prepared to become manager of Aston Villa as part of a hypothetical takeover.
Days after stressing the importance of creating the right 'ambience' when he took over five years ago, Eriksson made indiscreet comments about Michael Owen, David Beckham, Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney.
But the FA have given the 57-year-old their 'full support'.
Eriksson said: 'I would like to assure everyone, especially the fans, that I'm 100 per cent committed to the England job. I've told The FA this and I value the great support I have received from them.'
Eriksson insisted his working relationship with the key players will remain healthy ahead of the forthcoming World Cup.
'I have spoken with the players concerned today and I have been very pleased with their reaction and am confident my relationship with them has not been damaged in any way.'
A statement on the FA website read: 'Following reports in today's News of the World, the Football Association can confirm that England Head Coach Sven-Goran Eriksson continues to have the full support of the organisation.
'This follows conversations between FA chief executive Brian Barwick and Sven, and subsequent conversations involving Brian with FA chairman Geoff Thompson, International Committee chairman Noel White and senior FA figures.'
The manager's agent Athole Still insists the former Lazio boss will not need to repair any relationships, and also revealed Eriksson is eager to extend his current deal by another two years to 2010.
It remains to be seen what effect the revelations will have on his players ahead of this summer's World Cup finals in Germany.
Eriksson said of Ferdinand: 'He is lazy sometimes,' and then, referring to Ferdinand's United team-mate Rooney, he talked of the player having a 'temper' and 'coming from a poor family'.
Eriksson said skipper Beckham was 'a bit frustrated' at Real Madrid and that he would be able to phone the England captain to persuade him to return to English football with Villa.
And Eriksson also made reference to Owen, who joined Newcastle in a £17million transfer from Real Madrid in August after a deal could not be struck with his former club Liverpool.
Eriksson added in the News of the World report: 'I talked to Michael Owen and said, `You are happy?' He (Owen) said, `Not really with the club, but economically I never earned that money in my life'. So they paid the salary more than Real Madrid did.
'He (Owen) said: `They gave me a house, they gave me a car, it's incredible'. They had to do it because in any other way he wouldn't have gone there.'
Still revealed in an interview with BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek that Eriksson recently urged him to sound out the Football Association about a possible contract extension to 2010.
'Sven said to me quite recently 'perhaps I've got used to this job despite the annoyances of it - perhaps you should have a word with Brian Barwick and see if the FA would be interested in me staying until 2010'.
'It depends entirely on what will happen in the World Cup. Is there any surprise in that? Do you need to be a genius to understand that?'
The meeting took place in Dubai after Eriksson was approached for a possible consultancy role in a football academy project.
Still told FA officials of the approach, adding: 'I wrote to (FA director of development) Trevor Brooking saying we had an approach and we don't know much about it, we'd like to listen to what they're saying.
'(I said) But it's a consultancy, if it in any way encroaches on his contract with the FA then of course we will tell you.
'We got a reply from (FA chief executive) Brian Barwick saying `no problem, just keep us informed with what it is and if any decision Sven takes would impact on his contract then we would want to be the first to know'.
'So it was done properly and correctly from the beginning.'
Although the takeover of Villa was a hypothetical proposal, the club distanced itself from Eriksson's comments.
A club spokesman said: 'It was a hypothetical conversation between two independent parties and, as such, nothing to do with Aston Villa.'
Though Eriksson's position was never under serious threat, this scandal is only the latest in a number of footballing and non-footballing incidents.
Secret meetings with Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon left the FA in an awkward position as the Swede apparently courted a lucrative job at Stamford Bridge. Soho Square chiefs opted to back their man all the way and tied up his future with an improved contract.
More front-page headlines were made when details of an affair with FA secretary Faria Alam emerged, which also involved Mark Palios, then chief executive.
His personal life came under scrutiny when television personality and fellow Swede Ulrika Johnson revealed the two had an affair in 2002 ahead of the World Cup in Korea and Japan.