A couple of my mates are Manchester City fans.
I'll never forget the look on their faces the day they suffered relegation to the old Division Two back in 1998.
Naturally, this woeful moment was even worse than the humiliation than the day earlier in the season when they were whacked 3-1 away at Stockport, the team situated just six miles from their home but always too tiny to consider as rivals.
I guess it was a bit like Norwich being beaten by Wroxham. Well, sort of. Anyway, City have had a fair few ups and downs over the years and while Stuart Pearce's dismissal was inevitable, I don't ever remember any new club manager in this country being greeted with such apathy and general despair as the arrival of Sven Goran Eriksson at Eastlands.
Talk to any City fan, and you'll have been hard pressed to find one thrilled with the prospect of the bonking Swede being given the pleasure of throwing around Thaksin Shinawatra's millions. When it was announced Sven was taking charge, my pals behaved as though Bryan Hamilton had just been appointed.
I even read some City miseries talking about relegation. Love Sven or hate Sven – and I think it's fair to say most fall into the latter category – he will do well this season.
Not only will he improve on their 14th position from last season, I'm tipping City to scrape a European place because the simple fact is that he's a decent manager.
I'm by no means a major fan. Like most, I felt that under his guidance, England played without passion, flair and minus a Plan B.
Most annoying of all, of course, was that despite being manager of our country, he was doing the dirty and staging talks with Peter Kenyon over moving to Chelsea. And, above all that, he was always more interested in skirt than football.
When his double-dealing with Chelsea became a national scandal, Sven went to watch a match at Charlton and needless to say, the nation's media were camped both inside and outside the ground.
After leaving the game early, the paparazzi jump onto his car and started taking pictures, along with the TV camera crews. Sven was pictured pointing in a forwards direction. ITN News described how a 'worried” Sven was showing his driver the way and asking him to move faster.
What actually happened is that as the bulbs flashed and the car moved slowly along Floyd Road, Eriksson caught sight of a giant advertising hoarding with a model posing in underwear. Sven, pointing, asked his advisor the identity of the model – and whether her number could be found!
No joke. True story.
Three successive quarter-finals defeats was hardly an amazing record but it was still pretty damn good. As has been well-documented, Sven has the best competitive record of any England manager. Equally, no other European country was as consistent as England in those three tournaments.
As is often the case, our failure was generally down to our inability at taking penalties. Which takes me to the point that maybe this 'golden generation' of England players has never been quite as good – or certainly as strong mentally – as we have all convinced ourselves.
A manager can do only so much. Critics of Sven say his only major trophy was in 2000 when he won the Scudetto in Italy with Lazio after spending ?274 milliom in four years. Yet he still won the Coppa Italia with both Roma and Sampdoria while also won League titles with Gothenburg and Benfica.
Admittedly, I think it's fair to say that City won't be thrilling their fans at home this season but they haven't been doing that in recent years anyway. What will happen, is that Sven will have an organised team capable of grinding out 1-0 wins. And into Europe they will go.
Also, while his relationship with Nancy remains on-off, there will no doubt be a string of beauties tottering outside the main Eastlands entrance hoping to catch Sven's Eye. As he has proved in the past, it doesn't take much.
My favourite all-time Sven story was when he was playing around with Ulrika Jonsson. Her nanny was always given a clear signal that Sven was doing the business up in the bedroom because he would leave his shoes outside Ulrika's door. And, because he is slightly vertically-challenged, the shoes were fitted with special platforms!
Now, it would be fantastic if Sven began dating an actress from Coronation Street. Preferably the actress who plays Hayley Cropper, who, before her sex change in the soap, was known as Harold. That would be a terrific story for Fleet Street's new hounds to get stuck into, but I fear he will probably end up with one of the girls from Hollyoaks…
So, back to football, and while you will probably disagree, I'm certain Sven will complete the season with a far more dignity than when he left the England job.
As for the Premiership, the winner's will obviously be one of either Chelsea, Manchester United or Liverpool. Followed by those clubs will be either Arsenal or Tottenham. At the moment, I think Spurs will have the edge.
After that, you have a third group of teams: namely Newcastle, Aston Villa, Everton and now, City. Bolton will struggle, big time, and I can't see Blackburn doing any better this year.
The surprises packages, along with City, will be Sunderland. Although looking at the way they are spending, I'm not sure how much of a shock it will actually be.
As for Norwich, I think I'll give us a few games before making an assessment. But a chill did run down my spine when I read about a comedy collision between Rob Eagle and Jason Shackell at Exeter. Early days, though. . . .
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