BANGKOK (Reuters) – Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra admits he is surprised by the club’s league start and believes he has woken “a sleeping giant” capable of qualifying for Europe this season.
The ousted former Thai prime minister is confident his family’s 81 million pounds purchase of the club, who are third in the English Premier League, will land them a UEFA Cup spot this season and silverware in the future.“When I first started to discuss about buying Manchester City we hoped to be in the top 10, but now I think we can get into the UEFA Cup,” Thaksin said in an interview with broadcaster ESPN.
“We are a sleeping giant. I’m glad to be the one to wake that giant.”
The exiled billionaire bought the struggling club in July, 10 months after he was ousted in a coup which the military said was provoked by rampant corruption in his government.Within weeks of his takeover, which army-appointed Thai investigators are probing for legitimacy, Thaksin brought in former England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson and put up 40 million pounds for new players.
City have since notched-up seven consecutive home wins and are in the League Cup quarter-finals. The club finished 14th in the Premier League last season.Thaksin, who insists his purchase of City was legitimate, credits their impressive start to teamwork and shrewd spending.
“I thought we will bring success to this club but I did not expect it to be this quick,” he said.“There is a blend of the old players and the new, there is a chemistry… they play well together, there is good team spirit. Everything came together quite quickly.”