x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Clarity in roles of Eriksson and Zenga vital for Al Nasr

Zenga knows better than anyone what is right for the club. Eriksson should always be aware of that. He insists he is.

Sven-Goran Eriksson is presented a football jersey by Ahmed Hashim Khoori, the club vice president. Charles Crowell for The National
Sven-Goran Eriksson is presented a football jersey by Ahmed Hashim Khoori, the club vice president. Charles Crowell for The National

Suffering from a cold inherited from recent times in Sweden and London, Sven-Goran Eriksson went to great lengths last night to extend a warm hand to Walter Zenga, a new colleague yet old acquaintance.

The pair enjoyed a fruitful two years in the 1990s at Sampdoria, when Eriksson sought to banish memories of a largely unsuccessful first spell in Italy's Serie A.

Wisely, he enlisted Zenga as his No 1 - a vastly experienced goalkeeper who could offer a valuable voice in the dressing room. It proved a sound move.

Now, though, when it comes to an Al Nasr first team that Zenga governs, Eriksson must exist as little more than a sounding board. He was at pains to point that out.

"Walter was the first man I sat down with," Eriksson said, adding his presence at the Dubai club is sure to increase pressure on a coach that, undeservedly, has encountered criticism this season.

Nasr may find themselves fifth in the Pro League, but they are only five points from second. Having in almost three seasons taken Nasr from relegation candidates to third and then runners-up, Zenga knows better than anyone what is right for the club. Eriksson should always be aware of that. He insists he is.

"I made it very clear to the players they can't come to me and ask why they're not playing, or why we're playing a certain formation," he said. "I'm not here for that. That's Zenga's and his staff's job. That's important for everyone to know."

If this new partnership is to thrive, that very point is worth keeping it fresh in the mind.

jmcauley@thenational.ae

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