DUBAI // Whether motivated by money, a love of football or a deep-rooted wanderlust, Sven-Goran Eriksson says he has joined Al Nasr to bring long-term success to the club.
The experienced Swede, who includes on his CV a succession of Europe’s preeminent sides as well as the English national team, was last night introduced as the new technical adviser at Al Maktoum Stadium.
Eriksson has signed an 18-month contract – a deal Nasr conceded involved “marathon negotiations” – after first being approached earlier this month. His remit includes overseeing the technical development of all aspects of the football set-up, from the youth programmes through to the first team.
The 64 year old will also form, together with manager Walter Zenga and the club’s board, part of a “technical committee” to determine player recruitment.
Given the extensive contacts book Eriksson no doubt possesses, and the current availability of one of his more high-profile former players, rumours are already taking root at Nasr of a most unlikely reunion.
“If he wants to come I’m sure they would open the gates for him,” Eriksson said when quizzed on the chances of enlisting the services of a certain David Beckham. “I still speak with him, although I don’t know where he will finish up.”
The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder is a free agent following the conclusion last month of his contract with Los Angeles Galaxy, and has been linked with a move to the Pro League, chiefly with Al Jazira.
However, Beckham represents one of world football’s most coveted players – he is said to be considering offers from 11 clubs – and would therefore presumably prove unattainable for Nasr.
And, anyway, Eriksson revealed he does not plan to augment the squad until the summer, given that he has not yet had the opportunity to examine properly the resources at his disposal.
“That’s not for now, that’s for after the league is finished in June or July,” he said. “Now it’s late in the season and I don’t really know what I need, so I can’t help the club at this moment.
“Now it’s more important to try and finish the league as high as possible in the table.”
Nasr sit fifth in the Pro League, 12 points behind the leaders Al Ain, following a frustrating first half of the season. They have not been crowned UAE champions since 1986.
While the arrival of Eriksson should have little impact initially, the former Benfica, Lazio, Sampdoria and Manchester City manager confirmed he has taken the position to help guide the club towards a more prosperous future.
“It’s a long-term job. If you want to change things in football it’s not done overnight,” Eriksson said. “You need time in football and I’ve just started this job these past two days, watched training with the youth teams, the senior team and the reserve team. But everything seems good. The conditions – the nice stadium, the nice training ground, good dressing rooms – everything is in place here.”
Eriksson has led something of a nomadic existence of late, in 2010 briefly managing Ivory Coast then Leicester City in England, before in September accepting a director of football role at BEC Tero Sasana, the two-time Thai champions.
“Maybe it looks like it, but I can promise you the jobs with Ivory Coast, in Thailand and here are not for the money,” he said. “Absolutely not. It’s for a love of football, seeing new parts of the world and new football league.”
Ahmed Khouri, the vice-president of Al Nasr Sports Club and Football Company, said: “We aim to get back our deserved place on the podium [of UAE football]. Eriksson is one of the veteran trainers and has worldwide experience. He has trained national teams and great clubs to gain that experience, starting in 1977. I hope we bring all the success to Al Nasr.”