Chelsea: Eriksson keen but Benitez stakes his claim
Abramovich snub may rule Sven Goran Eriksson out as Rafa Benitez expresses hunger for top job
FORMER Chelsea boss Luiz Felipe Scolari might describe working for Roman Abramovich as "hell" but that hasn't stopped Sven Goran Eriksson throwing his hat into the ring for the Stamford Bridge hot seat. Asked if he was interested in the job vacated on Sunday by Andre Villas Boas, the 64-year-old Swede replied: "I would take it, of course."
Eriksson has been through nearly as many sides as Abramovich has football managers, and his last foray into English football ended ignominiously with his sacking by Leicester City in October. Before that Eriksson, who managed the England national team from 2001 to 2006, had short-lived spells at Manchester City and Notts County, as well as coaching Mexico and the Ivory Coast.
Eriksson turned down an offer from Abramovich to manage Chelsea back in 2003, and believes this snub may rule him out of the top job now. "It wouldn't happen," he says. "You only say no once." The Swede is also in no doubt as to why Villas Boas got the chop. "The Champions League without Chelsea?" he says. "That would be very, very bad. Not only the money, but for the prestige of the club."
Meanwhile, one of Eriksson's former Premier League rivals has ramped up his claim to the position. Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has declared he is "open to offers". The Spaniard was in charge of the Reds for six years before leaving Anfield by mutual consent in the summer of 2010.
Asked by reporters if he believed he could do a better job than Villas Boas, sacked after just 257 days in charge at Stamford Bridge, the 51-year-old Benitez was combative: "How many managers have won trophies in three different countries, the Spanish title or the FIFA Club World Cup? I am a manager now waiting for a job."
Not that that would necessarily cut much ice with Abramovich, as Luiz Felipe Scolari testified on Monday when asked to describe his seven bruising months at the Bridge during the 2008-09 season.
Scolari, who was coach of Brazil when they won the 2002 World Cup, had a warning for the next man to fill Villas Boas's position: "It will be hell for whoever succeeds him." Sympathising with Villas Boas, Scolari added that his dismissal was "strange, although it's not so strange to me because of what I went through there".