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So here we are with another leap forward in time. At the time of writing it is March 2021. This means that I have now not only completed the wee half season when I first joined and finished 11th, but the entirety of season two too, with details to follow in this post. Currently I’ve managed 52 matches, winning 26, drawing 8 and losing 18. A 50% win percentage is not too bad, but let’s rewind to where we last left off.
On a side note, this is almost like series 5 of Desparate Housewives, where they did that five year time jump after the series 4 finale, but not quite so far forward. (writer’s note – drop this immediately).
So as we know, the Malmö fans laughed off my interest right at the end of the last blog post. It’s almost like all this speculation and analysis of potential clubs to move to is a big old waste of time until my reputation increases. On that note, Mr Chairman is not impressed.
What a reasonable chap. He recognises that a move to Malmö would be hard to turn down, and he’s chilled out a bit. The recent financial troubles at the club do have him smoking like a chimney again, and I know his wife isn’t too pleased about it, so maybe Lars realised that falling out with me is the last thing he needs.
On that note, I won’t delve into forensic detail, instead only to say that despite my incredibly thrifty (i.e. impossible) work in the transfer market, the club are simply continuing to haemorrhage money. I still haven’t spent a single penny on transfers, and not asked to improve any of our facilities, we simply just do not generate enough revenue. I even tried to get a senior affiliate on board, but there were no appropriate teams available. There’s also an alarming behavioural pattern with these players that is pretty much impossible to work around.
This is what occurs. Player approaches end of contract of £250 per week. Player wants £1,200 a week to extend and stay. I simply will not meet these terms. Player leaves. Then, I sign a replacement, who although a free agent, will not join for anything less than around £600 a week. So I have a lesser player, but the wage for that one slot in the squad has more than doubled.
Curiously, when the existing players ask for the £1,200 or so, the option is there for me to offer it to the player. That is just (further) financial suicide for the club, however, and I won’t do it! At this stage we need a Bruce Wayne-esque billionaire to come in and save our beloved Varbergs.
So there were eight league games left when we last caught up. Did we smash all eight opponents and romp to promotion?
We threw it away. Just. Not. Good. Enough.
With no other suitable vacancies available, the previously mentioned departures of Astrit Seljmani to the Upside Down and Markus Steinhöfer to his retirement home in Middle Franconia, it was time to accept it, and face whatever lies ahead.
So now we move into season 3, 2021.
I take another deep breath (not of one of Mr Karlsson’s cigarettes) as I pin the Varbergs port Polaroid back above the hotel bed and take stock of where we are at as a club. I go to text the ever-smiling Fredrik Danielsson, that always cheers me up, but then realise his contract is actually up.
Freddy is replaced by existing coach (and Spurs legend) Stipe Pletikosa as I struggle to scrape together the budget for my preferred assistant manager candidate, which was lowly Brechin City’s 52 year old Stevie Campbell.
Just before Markus Steinhöfer retires, he proves to me that he was actually right to do so. Maybe not physically, but at 34 (the same age as me), his mind seems to be wandering. Despite already setting his retirement date in stone as the end of November 2020, he decides he fancies a transfer to another club. I can only imagine he expects to sign a 14-day contract with Bayern Munich, to put to bed some sort of unfinished business.
Naturally I remind the lunatic of his decision to retire, and he loses his mind and ruins any potential Swedish legacy.
He roams the halls like a mad man, and I up the security around the place. This is another cost we don’t need. No wonder we are in so much debt.
Our youth intake occurs, and it’s not the best. There are two decent prospects, Strömberg and Svensson. The fans are upbeat and positive on social media, as the youth candidates arrive and get to know the place.
Ahead of season 3, I had forgot to mention that my Barcelona revelation at left back, Lucas Gafarot, broke his ankle during the run in, and has to be out for five months. Adam Fofana, who has long since recovered from his Cava party stubbed toe, will have to be the main man, in pre-season at least.
So our much maligned club has some good news as I navigate to the staff analysis. We clearly have staff who are head and shoulders ahead of our competition. Apart from in goalkeeping coaching, which is real shock given that my new coach-turned-assistant manager is the 114 times capped Croatian goalkeeping legend Stipe Pletikosa.
After paying for my National B, National A and Continental C licences, I am now working towards my Continental B. If I can go on to get my A and Pro, I will have more badges than the kid in the movie Up, and surely irresistible to bigger sides in (crucially) less financial ruin.
With a first team squad size of just 17 players, and around £600 per week left in the wage budget (although with a couple of contract expiring players still to leave, which will free up slightly more cash), I had to go to the market, or risk not being able to field a full bench when a handful of injuries inevitably occur. Let’s see who I could bring in. On free transfers, of course.
First up is 28 year old Kosovan striker Liridon Selmani. He replaces the outgoing Stranger Thing Astrit Seljmani. So really all I’ve lost is a ‘j’ (woosh). Selmani was actually previously at Varbergs before my time, in the 2016 seaason, where he scored an incredible 0 goals and played in 0 games, he basically didn’t even have a shirt with his name on the back. Although lazy, indecisive and physically weak (great start), given our tiki-taka style, he is quick, composed, good off the ball, has a bit of flair, decent anticipation, composure, passing, dribbling and first touch, and should be able to finish a few chances too. Granted his last two seasons were in lower tiers in Sweden, his league record of 29 goals in 50 games gives me hope.
Secondly is the impressively named Patrik Petterson. The 30 year old Swede is capable of playing on both wings, which provides me adequate squad cover, and despite some concerns about a few of those mental and physical attributes, was the best versatile winger I could get my hands on. Good dribbling, flair, acceleration and decent first touch, passing, crossing, determination, off the ball movement, vision and workrate had me sold. He gets £500 a week as he (much like Selmani) makes the step up from the lower leagues in Sweden. He managed 6 goals and 6 assists from the wing in 39 appearances across two seasons at IFK Luleå, and I think he’s a decent acquisition.
I should add that Macedonian winger Daniel Krezic who I previously could not keep, settled for £750 a week instead of £900, and despite his 6 goals and 2 assists in 45 league games for me, has to stay to make up the numbers.
Last year’s loanees Jamie Barjonas (Rangers – 2 goals in 22, rating of 6.75) and Milan Suvejkic (Östers – 0 goals in 2, rating pointless to report) returned to their parent clubs with my blessing. To make up the numbers, in came two Swedes and a Canadian (from a Swedish club). Taylor Silverholt is quick(ish). Jake Weisbrod is brave and angry. Tim Stålheden is decisive and can tackle a bit. Job done.
The first team squad now has 24 bodies in it after some shuffling around, and it’s time for season 3.
It’s the eve of the 2021 Superettan league season. A quick look at the pre-season form including the cup run, board feelings and club financials and we are ready to go again.
I definitely said this last year, but this season has to be promotion-or-bust. I have no idea what the coming year holds for us, but I am dying to find out.
Thanks for reading.