This is one episode of a wider series. To instead start at episode one, please click here.
I know it’s creating an unprecedented double upload day, but gents, I had to do it.
As you may know, I have been feeling for some time like my stint in the south west of Sweden in the Superettan is drawing to a close. There’s been the missed promotion disappointment, there’s been the star striker leaving, there’s been the demented assistant manager and retiring lunatic full back, but most of all, there’s been the overbearing shadow of hideous financial catastrophe.
It’s the 13th of June 2021, and as it stands, the club have £0 to spend (and I have spent £0 in total), -£2,360 per week in the wage budget and are £1.4million in the red. If this continues, which it absolutely will do, as we have very few assets to sell and no way to generate more revenue, or spend any less money (without seriously compromising our football), by the end of 2023 that figure will be -£5.5million. I’ve tried everything, but I think someone else coming in, wiping the slate clean and perhaps clearing out the whole playing squad and accepting that they may tumble down a division or two might just be what’s best for Varbergs at this time.
“The heartbreak is simply another chapter in the broader narrative,” is a phrase famously used by legendary manager Nicolaj Bur, and today, it could never be more true. (writer’s note – damn, this is getting meta @FMCheapSeats)
Now frustratingly, we’ve had a brilliant start to the season. 6 wins and 3 draws from 12 matches sees us sit in 3rd, one single point off the top spot. No injuries in the squad, no unhappy players, and the full support of the players and boardroom.
Gustaf Norlin is playing a blinder week in week out, and currently averages a 7.54 rating in his 16 appearances in the league and cup this season.
Alibek Aliev has stepped into the Seljmani void with ease, and has bagged 6 goals and 5 assists in 16 games.
I’ve even signed a player on a pre-contract. He is due to arrive in a month’s time.
Andriy will become the latest Varbergs Boi on the 15th of July, 2021, not long to go!
Now before I tell you about the big news that has required not only a double upload day, but also to merit the involvement of Ron Burgundy himself to tee it up, there’s a few things I want to go over first.
Firstly, it seems like capturing my Continental B Licence is what all of a sudden put me on the map for other teams. Before then, as we’ve seen multiple times so far, I’ve literally been ‘laughed off’ when approaching managerial vacancies. That’s a big tip for any budding journeymen out there who don’t already know.
Since my last post there’s been an absolute frenzy of activity, which I’ll tell you about in a moment, just after you look at how terrifying my Reserves Manager’s face is. I hadn’t noticed.
First there was Helsinborgs. Yes they are currently 15th of 16 in the division above me, but with ‘okay’ finances and are simply a bigger club. They approached me, and I spoke to them to find out what the opportunity could really mean for both of us.
Another observation. Gaining my Continental B Licence meant that my reputation which had started as ‘minimal’ and rose to ‘nominal’, was now ‘decent.’ Frustratingly, however, the financial failings of the club are highly detrimental to my managerial characteristics, with a 17% “score” in the “managing finances” category, I can see why other chairmen were steering clear.
Next up were Vålerenga in Norway, a team who’s name remind me of John Carew playing for them vs Chelsea in the UEFA Cup Winners Cup back in around 1998 or 1999. I can still hear Jonathan Pearce’s commentary in my head from Channel 5.
I think I might have ruined this interview by spitting half a cup of tea all over Mr Christensen’s desk when he said I’d have £5.25million to spend if I had the hotseat. Nothing displays confidence like having to change your trousers mid interview. In fact, that’s a life tip you can take with you, no matter who you are or where you work. You’re welcome.
I interviewed for the Häcken job too, back here in Sweden. That was a slightly better opportunity than Helsinborgs, but the same old story.
Örebro also approached me, as did Kilmarnock in my native Scotland. I also put in a cheeky application for the Willem II job, simply because they dismissed me the last time they had a vacancy and I applied, but none of it really turned my head.
Lillestrøm SK are in the top tier in Norway. Granted they are currently 14th of 16 teams (16th being Vålerenga), but something about them really caught my eye. And it wasn’t just the ‘secure’ written beside the word ‘finances’ in the job posting. Let’s look a little bit closer.
If offered, surely I’ve got to go for this. Surely I do.
10,200 seats vs 1,100, in a club-owned stadium which has a sponsorship deal. Much better facilities across corporate, training, youth recruitment and junior coaching. Effectively a much bigger club in every conceivable way.
£4.8million pounds to spend. Let me repeat that. £4.8 million pounds in the bank that can be used to buy players to better the team.
I almost have a nosebleed as I look at the numbers.
As a second job in my journeyman journey, I think this is an absolute belter.
I’ve said yes. It’s a done deal. It’s no longer the Varbergs Bois, could it instead be the Lillestrøm Legends?
I pack up my things from the hotel in Varberg. The port Polaroid is left behind, along with all the Krona I have on my person, as a tip to the lovely cleaners who have been so hospitable the whole time I’ve slept in a single bed in this 2-star establishment. I pass Monika at reception, who I previously offended with my Alan Partridge joke that she didn’t understand. As I head out the door, she calls after me, “You got your big plate, Adam?” Wait. Did she just?…
The flight is only an hour from Gothenburg to Oslo, but I’ll need to drop off this Saab first. Freddy Danielsson inexplicably appears at the car rental place before I do and tries to hug me, but I distract him by pointing at a passing pigeon, and slip away before he realises. I never did get that lovely Volvo. Unfortunately I don’t think the Norwegians even make cars. Wait, what is in Norway?
I vow to learn as much as I can about Lillestrøm, Norwegian football, and the south east of Norway in general (see? I’m learning already) in the coming days. I think back on the one year and 332 days I’ve spent here in ‘the least appealing place in Sweden.’ And do you know what, Mr Tegnér? You were wrong. It was brilliant.
Onwards and upwards, see you in Norway in the next post!
Thanks for reading.