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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eriksson checks in at Notts County

LONDON (AP) Sven-Goran Eriksson says he's in for the biggest challenge of his life at Notts County, but insisted Wednesday he will take the fourth-tier team back to the Premier League.

News photo
Back to basics: Sven-Goran Eriksson speaks at his unveiling as Notts County's director of football on Wednesday. AP PHOTO

The 61-year-old Swede said he turned down jobs across Europe to take the position as director of football in a five-year deal with County, which dubs itself the oldest league club in the world but hasn't been in the top flight since 1992 and finished 19th in League Two last season.

"I think it's the biggest football challenge of my life, trying to take Notts County back to the Premier League, but that's the target," Eriksson said at his first news conference with the club.

After spending two decades coaching top clubs around Europe — along with England and Mexico — Eriksson's latest job has been met with widespread surprise in Britain, and a large dose of scorn in the press.

Eriksson himself admitted that when he was first informed of County's initial interest, his response was: "Mmm, I'm not sure about that."

But Eriksson's mind was turned after hearing about the club's ambitious plans after being bought up by Munto Finance, a Middle Eastern business consortium.

"After listening to the other people and seeing the project they have, I became interested quickly," he said. "I always said I wanted to come back to the Premier League. I chose a little bit of a difficult way to do it I think. It will take a few years, but I think we will do it.

Eriksson will oversee player transfers, the youth academy, and building overseas links.

"It's going to be different for sure, but I'm looking forward to it," Eriksson said. "I have discussed players with him (manager Ian McParlan). Obviously I don't know the players. I don't know League Two at all."

Eriksson, who has also been made a shareholder, insisted he wasn't at County for the financial rewards.

"If it was for the money, I could have easily gone elsewhere," he said. "I'm not here for the money. I'm here for the challenge. I'm not here for the weather, or if the city is nice or not. If that was the case then I could have gone to Italy."

County hopes Eriksson's profile will help to attract players that can help the club climb the English soccer ladder.

"We can't pay Premier League salaries to players in League Two — we all know that and we have to be sensible," he said. "Internationally I know a lot of agents, players and they have already started calling from half of Europe today. I already had to switch the phone off."

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