Season 6, BK Häcken, Swedish Allsvenskan
Board Expectations: Mid-table safety
Media Expectations: 11th (out of 16)
Transfers in: 14, including your favorite and mine, Redmiistii, for £230K
Transfers out: 10, for a total of £425K
We were given relatively high expectations for the board for the coming season and literally nothing to spend. With a decent wage bill though, so I pulled in a ton of free agents as well as a promising young defender for a bargain-bin price and an up-and-coming striker from the Superettan who was coveted throughout the season by several clubs.
Rosenborg peppering me with offers. However, all my decent strikers were 18 or younger, so I picked up a journeyman Norwegian who had spent almost his entire career on loan as a stop-gap solution.
And what a stop-gap solution he turned out to be, piling on 11 goals in his first 9 matches for the club as we breathed in the rarefied air of third place. Then reality came crashing down on our heads like the proverbial weight that has its tonnage written on the side for some reason and we spent the rest of the season going up and down like a cartoon animal that had been turned into an accordion by one of the aforementioned weights.
It was one of those seasons where, as my coaching staff noted at the end of the year, we were in awe of the teams better than us and took things for granted against teams that were worse than us. The only rhyme or reason to our performances would be that we would almost always outshoot the opposition, either because we went down early and thus needed to throw caution to the wind, or because we’d dominate, peppering their goal with vicious strikes before giving up 2 goals on 4 shots.
Central defence featured a cast of thousands, with injuries and mid-season transfers meaning that there never really was a first-choice pairing and the relative insecurity of the fullback positions was completely overshadowed by the fact that you never knew would be starting any given game.
Frankly surprised that our 19-year-old keeper didn’t have a complete mental breakdown. On the bright side, Norwegian Journeyman continued his inspired form when he wasn’t hurt, finishing with 24 league goals, many coming off the boot of our young Finnish star, capable either in the middle of the park on on the left wing yet incapable of putting pen to paper for a new contract.
Which is where we are as the curtain falls on the most recent season. Expectations were met; still, the feeling is there that the team could have done better and there is a real question as to who will be back next season, including the coach, whose contract is almost up and who has shown no sign of where he might choose to be next year…
Swedish Cup: Out at the first time of asking, again! At least it was against Premier League opposition this time.
Player of the Year: Norwegian Journeyman Striker, who had never scored more than six goals at the top level at any of his previous clubs.
Former Club Watch:
RoPS: 9th in the Veikkausliiga, although with a goal difference that should have put them just below the European places.
Offers: None, although I was linked to the HJK job throughout the season before they gave an extension to their current coach.
SPD 7TH P30 W13 D8 L9 GF48 GA37 Pts47
Season 7, BK Häcken, Swedish Allsvenskan
Board Expectations: Just below top
Media Expectations: 6th
Transfers in: 7, for £0
Transfers out: 5, for a total of £26K
With the squad mainly stabilized, I brought in some young cover for our center of defense as well as some well-needed depth at the RB position. I sold on one of my aging Norwegians who wasn’t happy with coming off the bench and mainly I was hoping that the squad coming together and the increased experience for my youth would make the difference from last year’s finish. Things were very thin; with our wage budget, we didn’t have any other options.
Things started incredibly well aside from a quick Cup exit and Häckenspent most of the first two-thirds of the season at or very near to the top of the table, although we were never able to create any space between ourselves and the four other teams challenging for the title. We were also surprised with a last-minute entry into the Europa League after we were granted a Fair Play spot.
Our opponents in the First Qualifying Round? Airbus of Wales, who went down 7-0 on aggregate. They were followed by MSK Zilina (agg. 3-2), Spartak Moscow (agg. a4-4) and Dinamo Bucaresti (agg. 2-1), which led to us being drawn in the Europa League Group D along with FC Midtjylland, FC Moscow (who apparently did not go defunct in the FM-verse) and Sevilla.
Unfortunately, we hit the combination of thin squad plus not a lot of rest plus the inevitable injury crisis plus the equally-inevitable stretch of games where you play all of the other contenders in a row (and usually on the road).
By the time Häckenmade it out the other side of the rough patch, we’d dropped to sixth, although we had pulled off some great results in the Europa League, tying Midtjylland and Moscow on the road and pulling a shock upset over Sevilla in Sweden.
With the goal being to get back into the top four spots and to compete in the Europa League again next year, the squad put in some strong performances over our last couple home games to jump past Gefle and Djurg£rden into 4th, just behind Hammarby and IFK as AIK took their fourth title in a row.
With one year left on my contract, I think I’m going to walk, as this is about as well as the team can reasonably expect to do. Attendances have remained flat and not only did the fairly-recent takeover not wipe out our debt, the new board took out a loan that more than doubled it.
We’re breaking even just because I’m pulling in money from the Europa and while we can be marginal title contenders in an absolute best-case scenario, we’ll always be a selling club with nothing to spend as there just isn’t any progress being made.
Swedish Cup: Out to Gefle in the 3rd Round (where the Allsvenskan teams come in)
Europa League: Made it to Group Stage, ongoing at end of the season
Player of the Year: Norwegian Target Man again, as he scored 21 in 32 appearances (16 in 23 in the league) and collected 10 MotM awards.
Former Club Watch
RoPS: After leading the league for most of the year, fell apart at the home stretch and finished tied with three other teams behind champions TPS, wound up 4th on goal differential.
SPD 4TH P30 W17 D4 L9 GF47 GA32 Pts55