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Sting job has Eriksson in soup

2006-07-28 14:42

  England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson claims he hasn't embarrassed his players by making indiscreet comments about them in a tabloid newspaper sting.

  “It would have been better without the article, of course, but having spoken to them about it there is no problem,” Eriksson said.

  The swede, who marked five years as England's first foreign coach last week, was forced to apologize for comments he made in Sunday's News of The World about David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Shaun Wright-Phillips and Rio Ferdinand. The newspaper used an undercover reporter, posing as an Arab sheik, to get Eriksson to talk about his players and his future as England coach.

  “I do not feel I have embarrassed the players,” Eriksson said at a Football Writers' Association dinner late on Sunday.

  “I have spoken to almost all of them …… Beckham, Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Owen.

  “I did not contact Shaun-Wright Phillips because he was playing at Sunderland but I will do so.”

  In the newspaper, Eriksson said Beckham was frustrated at Real Madrid and was eager to return to English soccer.

  He described defender Ferdinand as “lazy” and said Rooney had a temper and came from a poor family; that Owen was rich, but unhappy at Newcastle, and Wright-Phillips' 21-million-pound (US$37 million) transfer to Chelsea was overpriced.

  Eriksson also said he would quit if England wins the World Cup this year, and suggested he would be interested in becoming manager at Aston Villa.

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