Despite Manchester City remaining in contention for a spot in Europe for most of the season and having beaten Manchester United twice in league competiton — a feat not achieved in nearly 20 years, manager Sven-Goran Erikkson (above, left) finds himself free and clear to spend as much time as he likes with Pat Riley‘s family. From the Telegraph’s Tim Rich :

Sven-Goran Eriksson will be sacked as manager of Manchester City at the end of the season after being told by the club’s owner, Thaksin Shinawatra, that he was not right for the club.

His agent, Athole Still, did not attempt to deny that Eriksson’s relationship with Shinawatra had broken down completely but said he would not be resigning.

Manager and owner met in the wake of Manchester City’s 3-2 defeat by Fulham on Saturday at which Eriksson was told he would be replaced.

Eriksson was said to have kept his customary cool during Sunday’s meeting but was said to be shocked by developments and there are even reports that he said goodbye to City’s players yesterday morning.

“I am giving a reasonably informed opinion and it is odds against him staying,” Still said. “It is the developments over the past couple of days. If Dr Shinawatra were going to give his ringing support, we would have heard it over the last couple of days.

“The one thing I can categorically say is that Sven will not be walking. You walk if you feel you have been doing a bad job and in Sven’s case that is very, very far from the truth.

What is surprising is the speed with which Thaksin’s mood has changed. Last summer, as Eriksson was hastily assembling a fresh squad built around eight new players bought on video evidence, the former Thai prime-minister suggested he was looking only for a modest improvement on Manchester City’s 14th-place finish under Stuart Pearce. Next season he would look for European qualification and entry to the Champions League by 2010.

Assistant coach Tord Grip said Eriksson had not been given enough time as manager. Grip confirmed to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet: “We will be here for the two last matches. They probably think that we haven’t done a good enough job.”