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FM20 Stories The European Journeyman

Journeyman – 9 – Lillestrøm SK – Living on a prayer

This is one episode of a wider series. To instead start at episode one, please click here.

Ex Blackburn legends and Bon Jovi aside, where would we play our football next year? Would I even have a job to come back to?

I don’t often open with videos (writer’s note – they are gifs, you moron), but I had to present these two moments that typified us this season.

Our defender, quite literally booting the ball off of his own face for an own goal.
#InViktorWeTrust running half the length of the park unopposed, only to pass the ball to the opposition keeper in the dying seconds of a crucial game.

It’s the final run in.

I look around my lovely little apartment in Oslo, have a final sip of coffee and head downstairs for the e-Golf. Did I tell you I eventually had to charge it?

In an image that has definitely not been edited in any way, this is my living room again. This time with lovely new artwork I bought at The Range. I wonder if I can get my deposit back?

I can see Jakob across the road in the restaurant, peering out into the sleepy Norwegian morning. I think to myself that it’s very early for him to be at work already, but then as I go to give him a wave, I realise he has arrived so early, solely to scowl at me through the restaurant windows he is clearly pretending to painstakingly clean as I leave for work. I’ve let Lillestrøm down.

It’s a good start to the day when I have to accept that on top of my favourite local restaurant owner hating me, my press officer tells me that both The Norwegian Football Informer and the ubiquitous Aftenposten newspaper carry the story that this game could be my last in charge.

This could be it. Could we silence the media and hit our stride in the final weeks of the season, unveiling my true quality as a top tier coach rather than that of my spirit animal Alan Partridge?

Nope. When asked if the team’s failure to convert chances led to this result, I sighed and said “abso-bloody-exactly” and Kenco came down the journalist’s nostrils. My nostrils were clear.

Gordo and I tried to explain to Mr ChriJo (Lillestrøm chairman) that the fact that the first Kristiansund goalscorer’s name was “Bye” on the day that we might have to leave the club for good was hysterically ironic. He didn’t see the funny side. I tried to then say that for the goal he “Bendik like Beckham.” He laughed even less at that.

The Kristiansund manager temporarily forgets that I am Glaswegian, and will literally knock f*** out of him if he ever speaks out about me like that again. (writer’s note – stress? what stress?)

On a lighter note, the Varbergs party continues back over in Sweden as they smash records and gain promotion.

Good for the BoIS. I’ll keep tracking their progress. I would love to see them stay up next year.
In a completely unrelated note, this news item caught the eye. The 90s football geek in me immediately recognised Preston’s new manager as the former PSG and Málaga goal machine! Good luck to Mr JDV. Although I have absolutely no idea if he was ever nicknamed that.

Back to business, I have a job to keep.

The media crank up the pressure yet again.

I was let off the last time, surely I would need to either win this match or that really would be that?

A frustrating bore draw.

Again I visit ChriJo and tell him how much of pivotal moment gaining a point will be. How this is the turning point. It doesn’t impress him, so I try humour again and mention the below.

Ironically a player named Boniface (bonny face) is one of the few players in my game universe who literally doesn’t have a face. The irony was absolutely lost on the chairman as he didn’t realise that the performance of his beloved club had anything to do with a ‘game’, and he threw me out of his office with what felt like a final, final warning.
Gordo cheered me up with some fantastic news about our left winger, the young Will Poulter.
Our assistant manager, Gordon Young.
This again.
The reaction I give our press officer.

In an incredible shock to absolutely no one, the media are again reporting that I am perched on the edge of a cliff wearing John Terry’s boots from the Moscow Champions League Final.

Me, apparently. The ball being my employment prospects.
14th play 15th. A loss here and we can kiss our survival hopes goodbye. Could we arrest the slide?
Nothing is going well. At all.

We see out the 30 game league season with more losses, morale continuing to plummet.

Inspired by a Twitter post by @TheReckonist, I mix things up for my final game in charge, and try a variation on his system.
Frustratingly, an 88th minute equaliser robs us of what would be only my 4th victory in 20 games.

The curtain comes down on the final game, and an absolutely exhausting campaign draws to a close. I joined part-way through the season remember. Would the board possibly give me my contracted chance to bring the mighty Lillestrøm back up again? My 15% win percentage and rock bottom 16th place finish would not suggest so. What a horrible season.

While I await the board’s verdict, I assertively soldier on with rebuilding plans, appointing Blackburn legend MGP as the new assistant manager of our reserves.
You thought wrong, Eli.
The end of season awards at least give me some credit for bringing in my former Varbergs captain Albert Ejupi.

But then…

Oh no.
Fair?

BREAKING NEWS

I keep my job!

What a relief. I truly hoped I’d get a full season to sort these boys out and get them playing better football. I stand by my decision to come to Norway, and even though my old team have just been promoted to the top tier in Sweden as I experience relegation to the second tier here, I am convinced it was the right move at the right time.

Well, you’ll have to excuse me, I have a iconic Norwegian footballing establishment to rebuild to go again for another season. By the skin of my teeth.

In the next post, I have a feeling that the winds of change at the club will have blown fairly strongly, and we might need a “transfer special.” How exciting.

Evidently Scorpions were such big Lillestrøm fans that in 1990, they pre-emptively wrote ‘Wind of Change’ in reference to their first transfer window of 2022.
I told you he’d be back!

Thanks for reading.

FM Stag

1 reply on “Journeyman – 9 – Lillestrøm SK – Living on a prayer”

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