This is one episode of a wider series. To instead start at episode one, please click here.
It’s the 29th of May 2022, and man do you start to get used to this fresh Norwegian air.
I recently learned that Norway is absolutely mad for cycling, even more so than for their electric cars. In an attempt to reingratiate myself to the Lillestrøm community after ruining everyone’s lives with the relegation of their beloved football team, I buy a bike and want to be seen hitting the road regularly for that sweet hit of fresh air, all eco friendly and green. I’m getting involved. My headphones are going in and the Karate Kid soundtrack is going on. Unlike my usual reaction, Joe Esposito’s ‘You’re the Best, Around’ hits a melancholic note with me, probably as I haven’t felt anywhere near the best for a long, long time. (writer’s note – cheer up mate, don’t lose the thread on this bike anecdote).
This is not some Boris bike nonsense thing either, I’m buying a proper bike. Do you know what? It only cost me 100,000 Krone. I thought paying £800 or so was decent value, what with me being a fancy football manager and all.
I even consider upgrading the e-Golf. If it’s electric cars they like here, what about this bad boy?
I look at the finance options and have one last glance at my online banking app to make sure it’s the right choice. There will be those of you who have figured out this next bit two paragraphs ago, but it was only then that I realised I had my zeroes in the wrong place when pricing my bike and looking at the exchange rate. I had accidentally dropped about £8,500 on a bicycle. A bloody bicycle. I should’ve went to Halfords.
I have to get out of this Tesla showroom. I awkwardly pretend to receive a phone call from an agent when my phone does actually ring while it’s at my ear. I shuffle out the door and leave Gordo chatting to the overeager salesman. Looking like a complete melt aside, it’s genuinely someone from Brighton and Hove Albion calling.
Wait. This could actually be important.
Viktor Gyökeres is now a permanent Lillestrøm player! I asked, and you guys answered, and it’s now a done deal. By waiting a few more weeks until it hit March, I managed to convince Brighton to lower their demands for #InViktorWeTrust to just £850,000. When the phone call came in from current Brighton manager Brendan Rodgers, I just had to take the little Northern Irishman’s offer, and get our man on a plane over here as soon as I could.
Some 2,000 people showed up at his unveiling at the Åråsen. This was a big day in this modern era of this football club. He did some keepy uppies, smiled a bit and signed some shirts. All while trying to convince everyone that the 90s David Beckham middle parting haircut was “coming back.” He’s wrong about that one.
Given how huge the news is, I have a quick look on the internet to see if the news is reverberating across the footballing world. It turns out that Gyökeres is a feared man.
It turns out that even Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson realises just how dangerous Viktor is. Dirigo FM interviews the wrestling man-turned-filmstar, and Johnson says “My good friend Clive Huxley needs to hear about this.” The People’s Champion calms for a second, before exclaiming, “In Viktor we trust!” Huxley is of course the current Notts County manager, flying up through the leagues over in England. How The Rock became friends with Clive though, is another story. Clicking the image above definitely won’t give you THAT story, but it will introduce you to Clive and his team.
As Viktor joins the squad, so do this year’s youth intake. Let’s have a quick look, shall we?
One player in particular stands out, Richard Strømberg. He has disturbingly low finishing for a supposed striker, but I think there’s something here we can really work with.
The pre-season starts, and with a deep breath I give the chaps a rousing chat. I ask them to forget the failures of last year, to forget that sinking feeling when our survival chances were snuffed out, and just to focus on being the best players they can possibly be, not just for Lillestrøm, not just for Gordo and I, but for themselves.
The emotion in the room is palpable, and a few of the boys have tears in their eyes. It took until a couple of months later for Perry Ng and Albert Ejupi to tell me they were taking the piss.
So how did the pre-season fixtures go? Spoiler alert – really well!
Now although I had hoped he had forgotten, there was the delicate matter of the gauntlet the board threw down at me at the tail end of last season when I survived in the role probably only because sacking me with a whole year left on my deal would probably cost too much.
He definitely hadn’t forgotten. Remember they set me a target of 8 points from the first 5 games? Well as of today, we’ve played 10 league games. Wait and see how we did. Would it be enough?
Wow. I don’t know if it’s the new signings, the new system, the weaker opposition, or more than likely a combination of all of the above, but we are dispatching most of our opponents will relative ease.
I immediately and publicly dedicate my award to Oslo restaurateurs Jakob and Sofia. Although they won’t let me sit inside the restaurant where others could see me just yet, I can order takeaway and collect it from the back door. That’s progress. Sometimes I eat my delicious salmon staring out of the living room window, imagining what it would be like to sit at a table with waiter service again.
I finish my food and breathe a deep sigh of relief, throwing my last pack of Marlboro Red in the bin down beside the sofa. Given that things are now going so well here at Lillestrøm, I’ll have a quick look at the footballing news for my old employers, as I always like to keep an eye out for their results. How were my Varbergs BoIS doing in the top tier over in Sweden?
The mighty Lillestrøm are unbeaten in the league and we are already a third of the way through the season. We’ve also got the 4th round of the cup to come.
Life in Norway really has turned the corner.
Maybe I should go back and see that Tesla after all…
Thanks for reading.