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By ESPN Staff
May 9, 2008

Scolari plays down City link, Benfica target Sven

Portugal coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has distanced himself from talk he will replace Sven-Goran Eriksson as Manchester City coach while Benfica claim the Swede is their sole target to become their new boss.

Scolari, who is gearing up to lead Portugal at Euro 2008 this summer, insists he is happy in his current role and has not agreed to join City.

'Portugal offers me everything I need,' Scolari said in an interview with Portuguese broadcaster RTP.

'I have no agreement with that club.'

The Brazilian added that he respects current incumbent Eriksson, who has been told by club owner Thaksin Shinawatra his position will be reviewed after the final game of the season on Sunday.

'I like him as a person and as coach. He is a gentleman,' said Scolari of the former England head coach.

Eriksson, for his part, has held discussions with the Portuguese outfit but could turn down any offer from his former employers because he believes bigger and better opportunities will come his way.

The Swede refused to answer questions regarding his future in his pre-match press conference on Friday but when asked if Sunday's game against Middlesbrough could be his last as City manager he said: 'It is a possibility, of course it is.

'It is not a secret to anyone in the world of football. But we will see, nothing is confirmed.

'Let's play the last game and have a little bit of patience. The fact is we will probably know next week.'

Benfica issued a statement on Friday confirming they have held initial talks with the Swede, but said they would not reveal any more details until both clubs had finished the season.

Manchester United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz has also been linked with the Benfica job but club spokesman Ricardo Maia quashed these reports.

He said: 'At the moment our coach vacancy has been centred on Eriksson and we will not reveal other names.

'More details about our future coach will be announced next week when the Portuguese league and the Premier League finish.'

Eriksson, who became a fans' favourite in his first season at City, would begin his third stint with Benfica if he is appointed.

A statement on Benfica's website said: 'Following media reports, the club can confirm that it has had preliminary conversations with Mr Eriksson to fulfil our main coach vacancy.

'So far we have not discussed any contract details, such as duration or salaries.'

Scolari, meanwhile, has spoken about jobs he has been in the running for but not accepted due to leaks in the media or wrong timing.

'Benfica contacted me (in 2004), but because someone leaked the conversations to the media I refused,' he said.

'The same thing happened with the English FA. They came to Lisbon, but suddenly everything was in the media.'

The 59-year-old said he had also been 'contacted by Real Madrid and Barcelona' in the past.

'It was the wrong timing as I had just signed with Portugal FA,' added Scolari, who took up the Portuguese reins in 2003.

• Manchester City fans are to stage a march outside the City of Manchester Stadium in support of manager Sven-Goran Eriksson.

The former England boss looks on his way out after one season in charge - and could be on his way to Benfica - as owner Thaksin Shinawatra is dismayed at the club's progress.

However numerous City supporters groups are alarmed at the situation and want Eriksson to stay.

A petition with around 14,000 signatures on it will be handed in to the club, according to 'King of the Kippax' fanzine editor Dave Wallace.

He said: 'This is not anti-Thaksin, it is pro-Sven and will be a peaceful protest.

'Whether it will make any difference I do not know but at least the fans will be able to register their feelings and let the owner know they are not happy.'