On this day in 2008: Sven-Goran Eriksson leaves Man City despite fan support


Eriksson had signed a three-year contract as City boss in July 2007.

A petition signed by thousands of fans was not enough to save Sven-Goran Eriksson’s job as Manchester City manager as he left the club on this day in 2008.

In his first job since leaving England a year earlier, Eriksson had signed a three-year contract as City boss in July 2007, days after controversial Thai businessman and politician Thaksin Shinawatra bought the club.

After investing in the likes of Elano, Martin Petrov, Vedran Corluka and Javier Garrido, City started the season impressively, and victory over rivals Manchester United in the third game of the campaign put them top of the table.

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Manchester United v Manchester City – Old Trafford
Benjani scored City’s second goal as they won at Old Trafford to complete a first league double over United in 37 years (Martin Rickett/PA)

City remained in the top six for the rest of 2007, but fortunes turned in the new year and Eriksson’s side began to slip down the table – despite a 2-1 victory at Old Trafford in February seeing them complete a first league double over United since the 1969-70 season.

Before the season was over, Shinawatra announced Eriksson would be replaced in the summer due to what he called “an avalanche of poor results” but the decision brought protests from City fans with Eriksson still hugely popular with both players and supporters.

City travelled to Middlesbrough on the final day of the season, with fans hanging “SOS – Save our Sven” flags in the away end at the Riverside, but the day ended in humiliation as City suffered an 8-1 defeat, having had Richard Dunne sent off just 15 minutes in.

Soccer – Barclays Premier League – Middlesbrough v Manchester City – Riverside Stadium
City fans campaigned for Eriksson to stay even as his side were humiliated by Middlesbrough in his final match in charge (Gareth Copley/PA)

Many claimed City’s players were effectively on strike in protest against Eriksson’s exit but the result was never going to help his cause as City finished ninth in the table – albeit making it into Europe via the UEFA Fair Play League.

Three weeks later, Eriksson’s exit was confirmed, with the Swede named the new coach of the Mexico national team just 24 hours later as City turned to Mark Hughes. Before the summer was out, Shinawatra would be gone too as he sold the club to Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan.