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Chelsea up Begovic bid to £8m

Stoke City
By ESPN Staff

Ball: City's players united behind Eriksson

Manchester City's players are uniting behind manager Sven-Goran Eriksson to try to quell uncertainty over the Swede's future. Eriksson met City's Thai owner Thaksin Shinawatra twice over the weekend but speculation over his position refuses to die down. City's 3-2 home defeat by relegation strugglers Fulham on Saturday did nothing to help Eriksson's cause, especially as Thaksin was at the game. But Michael Ball, City's captain on Saturday in the absence of Richard Dunne, said the squad were to a man supportive of the former England manager. 'Every player is 100% behind him (Eriksson). We like his methods, the way he trains, the way he goes about his tactics,' Ball said. 'If the club wants to go forward we have got to keep the coaching staff and obviously add a few more players.' Ball also admitted the Fulham defeat, when City were 2-0 up and cruising, was symptomatic of the last few months. He added: 'We wanted to finish at home on a high, but the game typified our season. 'We started really well, but in the second half of the season we could not get over the line and kill games off. 'We've let teams get back in, and the way we played against Fulham reflected the season. With more hard work we could have finished it off and we've only got ourselves to blame. 'Maybe we thought we could get away without doing the dirty work.' Eriksson's meeting with Thaksin at a Manchester hotel yesterday morning was described as 'cordial' by club sources, and the Swede has insisted he is 100% confident about still being in charge next season. City will certainly finish the season in line with Thaksin's target - being in the top half of the league - with the aim being to qualify for Europe in a year's time and the Champions League two years down the line. The owner has pinpointed 'a striker, a midfielder and a defender' to be signed in the summer while Eriksson only stated he needs 'something' to ease City into the top six.