Sports

Time to let Sven live the dream

OK, so maybe the term legends is a little loose for a team that contains the likes of Bjorn Tore Kvarme and Gregory Vignal, but that’s not the point.

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Sven-Goran Eriksson may finally get to ‘manage’ Liverpool. AFP Photo

Paul Kennedy

In typical English fashion, eyebrows were raised when Sven-Goran Eriksson was appointed manager of the national football team in 2001. The tuts were deafening.

Sven was the first non-British manager to be appointed coach of the England national football team. This was a different time, remember, more than 20 years ago, and the notion of some ‘Johnny Foreigner’ leading out the Three Lions sent shivers down the spines of die-hard supporters.

But Sven wasn’t bothered. The softly-spoken Swede took it all in his stride and ignored the detractors.

He didn’t do that bad a job for England. In three major tournaments he got them past the group stages, beaten twice in quarter finals and he improved England’s FIFA World Rankings from seventeenth place in January 2001 to fifth in July 2006, reaching fourth during the 2006 World Cup.

At one stage, he was regarded as England’s second most successful manager, behind only World Cup winner Sir Alf Ramsey.

I always knew that Sven was a big Liverpool supporter. It was an open secret. His father too was a massive fan of the Reds.

This week, after Sven broke the sad news that he is suffering from pancreatic cancer, he said the biggest regret in his life was not managing Liverpool FC.

I don’t know if he would have been a success at Liverpool. There were times in my team’s dark days when he would have probably been better than the managers we had.

Now, I hope, there’s a chance he could see his wish come true.

Liverpool have what they call a ‘Legends’ team, made up of past players who play charity matches against past players from other teams around Europe.

OK, so maybe the term legends is a little loose for a team that contains the likes of Bjorn Tore Kvarme and Gregory Vignal, but that’s not the point.

These are great games that raise a bucketful of money for the Liverpool Foundation, the club’s charity arm that provides a range of programmes to help improve the life and health of children and young people.

In March, they will take on Ajax Legends from Holland in front of what will be no doubt a packed Anfield stadium.

Sir Kenny Dalglish and Ian Rush usually manage the old boys eleven, but there are calls this week for the pair to step aside and hand the reigns over the Sven.

It won’t quite be what the Swede had in mind when he first became a manager in the 1970s with dreams of leading Liverpool, but hey, it’s the next best thing.

And what a gesture that would be.

I hope it happens and Sven can manage a Liverpool side at least once in his lifetime. He is after all, a football legend.