Eriksson returns to England with Notts County

Eriksson says he's in for the biggest challenge of his life at Notts County, but insisted on Wednesday he will take the fourth-tier team back to the EPL.

updated: July 22, 2009 16:11 IST
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Sven-Goran Eriksson says he's in for the biggest challenge of his life at Notts County, but insisted on Wednesday he will take the fourth-tier team back to the Premier League.

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 football 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 on Wednesday. I already had to switch the phone off."

While less of a success at international level, Eriksson has won plenty at the clubs he has coached.

Eriksson won six trophies with Lazio between 1997 and 2000, including Serie A, the European Cup Winner's Cup and two Italian cups. He led Sweden's IFK Goteborg to the UEFA Cup in 1982.

He also won domestic cups with Benfica, AS Roma, Fiorentina and Sampdoria.

Eriksson didn't get the chance to produce Manchester City's first major trophy since 1976, since he was fired after only taking charge of the 2007-08 season.

Eriksson _ England's first foreign manager _ departed after the 2006 World Cup, where he led the team to the quarterfinals, as he did at the 2002 edition and the 2004 European Championship.

Despite having a better win record than any of his predecessors, Eriksson riled many England fans for using a defensive approach and failing to win a major title.

At the helm of Mexico for less than a year, Eriksson won only four of nine qualifiers, and all at home. In 13 matches overall, he won six and drew one.

The pressure to deliver will be less at County. Their only major success was winning the FA Cup in 1894.

"This job is something a little bit new for me but why not try it?" Eriksson said. "I'm still hungry, I still love it."