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Four-goal Faris dreams of AFC Cup final

By ESPN Staff

Eriksson and Thaksin enjoy 'cordial' talks in Manchester

Manchester City manager Sven-Goran Eriksson has today met club owner Thaksin Shinawatra following recent speculation the former England coach would be leaving the Eastlands club.

Eriksson joined the former Thai prime minister at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester this morning and had what a senior City source described as a 'cordial' meeting.

They also spoke last night before a dinner held in honour of City's FA Youth Cup-winning side.

Eriksson must hope Thaksin's faith in him is as great as that in the club as a whole.

Eriksson's meeting with Thaksin was held amid growing rumours the former England coach is about to lose his job.

That Thaksin was present to see City toss away a two-goal advantage in the final 20 minutes against Fulham yesterday hardly helps, especially as it had almost certainly cost them any remaining chance of landing a European place.

Eriksson has been bullish about the future, insisting he expects to still have his job in 12 months' time.

For his sake, it is to be hoped Thaksin is of the same mind because one thing is clear, the Thai is going nowhere.

'I want to keep the club long-term,' he said.

'It will remain private and I want to hold it for life.

'I see the club as always growing and growing beyond the city of Manchester.

'The Premier League is a global brand, so if we are in the UEFA Cup or Champions League it will mean we will go beyond Manchester.'

Maybe those words are to be expected, as is a commitment to invest in the academy, which has just spawned a team good enough to win the FA Youth Cup, and a re-statement of a declaration to have City in the Champions League by year three of his grand plan.

But Thaksin spoke very much in the past tense when addressing what excited him about his first year at the helm.

'I felt very optimistic after I got Sven-Goran Eriksson as coach,' he said.

'We also got some new players and even though it was quite heavy on my pocket, I was very confident the club would be moving forward.

'At the start of the season we were playing exciting football and making new friends. I like that style and the way Sven was training them, the way the team came together and the way they played football.'

The message therefore is quite clear. If Eriksson remains, and the question mark is still there, it is the swashbuckling early-season form that is demanded not the slump experienced from January onwards.

Not that Eriksson should be blamed too much given the rush with which he was forced to put together his side, a time constraint not of his doing, and the sudden absence of funds, for which the Swede again cannot be blamed.

Changes do need to be made and more new faces brought in.

The owner has pinpointed 'a striker, a midfielder and a defender', Eriksson prefers a less definable 'something' to ease City into the top six.

Certainly the City manager, whoever he is, would benefit from Thaksin being rather less knee-jerk than he appears at present and certainly yesterday's defeat, however galling, should not result in any over-the-top reaction.

'Twenty minutes in almost one season cannot affect anything if you are looking at the overall picture,' said Eriksson.

'But if it means we don't get into Europe it is a big pity.'