Former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson has revealed how he regularly clashed with Manchester United legend Sir Alex Ferguson over the handling of Wayne Rooney.
Eriksson, 71, held the position as Three Lions manager for five years and has now outlined the details of one particularly feisty phone call with Fergie.
Eriksson as England manager: Five things to know…
- Eriksson was the England manager between 2001 and 2006.
- He took the Three Lions to three consecutive quarter-final appearances in major tournaments.
- Eriksson has previously stated that he once signed a contract to take over from Ferguson at Man Utd in 2002.
- The pair regularly clashed over Eriksson’s handling of Man Utd players.
- In one heated conversation regarding Rooney, Eriksson says he told Ferguson to “f**k off”.
The ex-Manchester City boss says he told Fergie to “f*ck off” after the Scot berated his squad selection policy, which included calling up Rooney.
Rooney was handed his first international cap by Eriksson and became a regular fixture in his starting XI between 2003 and 2006, but those appearances could have been far fewer had Fergie got his way.
“With Alex, the amazing thing was it was seven o’clock in the morning or earlier, always, when he was angry. And never ‘Hello Sven, how are you?’ It was ‘whuurssshhhh’ [straight into yelling],” the Swede told The Times.
“He said: ‘I will kill you. You are finished.’ But I represented England and you have to stand up.
“What’s right is right and what’s wrong is wrong and when you say ‘Don’t pick Rooney because I’m going to kill you’…I said, ‘F*** off, what’s going on with you?’.
“And he was screaming. Whenever he got like that…it has no meaning. That’s why I was, ‘Alex, I will pick Rooney. Now, have a nice holiday. Ciao, bye’.”
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“My relationship with Alex was very good”
In 2001, when Fergie announced his intentions to step down as Man Utd manager, there were reports that Eriksson would succeed him in the Old Trafford dugout.
However, he would ultimately remain in charge of the club for another 12 years, while Eriksson went on to guide England to three successive quarter-final finishes in major tournaments.
“That one [the agreement to replace Ferguson] was done,” said Eriksson. “My relationship with Alex was very good, in one way. Privately, we had dinner, we went to events, talked about everything.
“But when you came to the job, for example friendly games, England, he was absolutely furious.
“You remember the Rio Ferdinand case? [The FA suspended Ferdinand for a missed drugs test]. Alex was, ‘If you don’t pick Rio you will never have any Manchester United players again.’ But I have huge respect. Because of what he has done, and because Alex is a nice man.
“But you know something? I met him three times as a coach and must be the only one in the world, three meetings and three wins. Lazio in the Super Cup and Manchester City twice. First time, in Monaco, ‘Congratulations Sven.’ Second time, ‘Meeeh.’ Third time, Carlos Queiroz appears. ‘Sorry, Alex has a meeting’.”
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