A newspaper sports sub has been at the centre of the action after the world learned that former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson was about to make a return to English football.
Manchester City has been taken over by Thai billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra, and now Sven’s been invited to be manager.
Manchester Evening News journalist Mike Whalley has enjoyed a hectic couple of weeks covering the club – getting an exclusive interview with the club’s new billionaire owner and being the subject of interviews by Swedish media.
The experience has been something of a departure from his day job, as he has only been covering the club for a few weeks while regular City reporter Chris Bailey is on holiday.
But Mike, who also pens MEN blog Whalley’s World of Sport and last year wrote the 50-part blog ‘Tales from the Teapot’, says he has relished the opportunity.
Last Thursday Mike got the call the paper had been waiting for, asking if he wanted to interview Thaksin Shinawatra, and was summonsed to London’s Mayfair to meet the former Thai Prime Minister in a plush apartment.
For half an hour he quizzed him on his hopes for City and his thoughts on the identity of the next manager, as well as his battle against corruption allegations made against him in Thailand and Amnesty International’s criticism of his human rights record.
Mike said: “It was an amazing experience. He was very open with the questions we asked him and he defended himself and didn’t duck an issue.”
Mike then found himself on the other side of the fence, being interviewed about his interview for local TV and radio, including the MEN’s sister TV station Channel M.
And it didn’t stop there, as the news that Sven-Goran Eriksson is about to become Manchester City’s new manager prompted more requests to interview Mike – this time from Swedish media.
He soon found himself fielding questions from several Swedish newspaper reporters, and Swedish state television station SVT whose reporter Pelle Nystrom interviewed him in his back garden.
Mike said: “They were very friendly and professional – I was very impressed.
“He knows Sven very well as he’s worked with him as a pundit, so he was able to give me an insight and I was able to give him an insight into what people in Manchester think about it.
“I found it quite bizarre to be standing in my back garden being interviewed for a report that would be seen in the whole of Sweden.
“They all wanted to know the City fans’ reaction, and my answer was that it is all positive.
“They also wanted to know what Sven’s reputation is like in England, and my answer was that he’s still got a lot of criticism, but I feel that a lot of it is unfair and that it might be better directed at the players.”