Hello, people! Welcome to the latest post in my Badjokes European comedy tour series. Today we begin mission avoid relegation as we begin our first job in management having taken over at Syrianska FC. If you would like an introduction to the club, then check out my last post HERE. As I’ve taken the job on with the season already in full swing we’re not going to be looking at the players in much detail until the end of the season and also because, to be honest, there is very little quality here so if I survive to the end of the season I will be undertaking an overhaul of the squad and the backroom staff.
We have only ten league games left in the season 5 of which will be included in this post and we find ourselves in 11th out of a 16 team league and only 4 points ahead of the relegation playoff places of 13th and 14th so our one objective is to stay in this league as I will get the sack if we do get relegated.
If you have read my last post you will know that I’ve taken this job on having not met the players yet as I arrived in my new home town of Södertälje just two days before our 1st game which happened to be away vs top of the table Halmstads 300 miles away so knowing nothing about the players or what skills they may or may not have I got the team that had travelled to write down what positions they play in and after evaluating that list I decided to go with a good old fashioned 4-4-2 formation just to keep things simple until I know the players better. The main instructions I gave to the team were to try to keep the passing short and to play through the middle with a deeper defensive line as I attempted to get a shock win as we started the game as 7-1 underdogs.
The game started with us looking very disjointed as you might expect considering the circumstances we find ourselves in. We battled for the first 15 minutes and looked competitive but then Halmstads found an extra gear and took the lead in the 24th minute when a simple cross from Boakye on the right found Boman in far too much space in the box to score a very simple powerful header. We didn’t really muster much of a response in the 1st half as the half-time stats showed with Halmstads having 15 shots to our 3 and 58% of the possession to our 42. So we made some changes to the tactics the main ones being that we started playing the ball out wide more and pushed the defensive line higher up.
The changes did have a positive impact as we did look like getting back into the game early on in the 2nd half but the players started to tire and we went 2 down in the 69th minute when a cross from the left bounced around the box and fell to the amazingly named Rasmus Wiedeshelm-Paul who poked the ball home. Immediately following that goal we made two changes bringing Seb Melki & Ceylan on for Naser and Genc. The subs gave us some momentum as we halved the deficit in the 75th minute when a deep cross from Dyrestam found Durmaz making a late run into the 6-yard box unmarked and he volleyed the ball into the back of the net for the 1st goal under my management!!. We had a late chance in the 89th minute to equalise but Melki’s shot hit the post and that was how the game ended as my 1st game as a manager ended in a 2-1 defeat and we slip to only 3 points ahead of the relegation playoff places, with now only 8 games left in the season so the pressure is real. One last thing to note about this game is that we took ONE yes ONE very loyal fan with us to Halmstad so he must get the award for the most dedicated fan in Sweden.
Three days later we had another long away trip this time just the 338 miles to Landskrona to take on Landskrona Bois in the Svenska Cupen, The signs weren’t good early on when we were priced as 3-1 underdogs against a team from the league below us.
We kept with the same 11 that started the game vs Halmstads as I’ve not had time to evaluate anyone else in the squad yet. Again, we fell behind early as Filip Olsen opened the scoring with almost a carbon copy of Boman’s goal in the Halmstads game as Olsen’s header flew past the Jamaican Dwayne Miller in our net. As the match stats show we never looked like getting back into the game and Bois doubled their lead with Olsen’s second of the game as his long-range effort from just outside the box, won the game for the lower division team to make it two defeats from my 1st two games as a manager, and hopefully it won’t be too long until we can reward that one loyal away fan with a win for his dedication.
My third game in charge against Jönköpings finally saw us play at home sweet home, hoping that actually having more than one fan might inspire us to get our first win. We made changes to the team with Durmaz moving over to the right-wing, Matic went to the left-wing Snaeholm came into the team as a DLP at left central midfield, Dyrestram moved from right-back to centre back with Demir taking the right-back spot and our two strikers changed roles as Genc started playing as a pressing forward and Katourgi lined up as a poacher. A lot of changes I know but I feel this is how we’re going to play to stay in the league so I’ll be sticking with this for a few games unless it’s an absolute disaster.
This game was definitely a better performance from us overall as we looked more solid in defence and we actually had multiple shots going on target which was nice to see at last. Jonkopings threw everything at us in the last half hour of the game with our defenders showing amazing bravery to get in the way of shots on multiple occasions.
Towards the end of the game, it just petered out into a 0-0 draw which was probably the correct result as our need for a decent striker is looking more and more evident but hey we have our first point as a manager and we’ve moved up to tenth in the league but still only three points above the relegation playoff places.
Another game and another sub-par performance as our unchanged team never really threatened the Oster keeper with anything too worrying and we’ve now gone three games without scoring so I need to tweak the tactic some more to give the strikers more chances in front of goal. This game was looking like it had 0-0 written all over it until the 71st minute when Ammar Ahmed found loads of space between the midfield and the defensive line and hit a powerful long-range effort from 30 yards out give Dwayne Miller no chance in our net. We never looked like getting an equaliser and this result dropped us back down to 11th and to make matters even more painful IK Frejtäby won their game vs Örgryte IS in the 93rd minute to mean that the gap between us and the relegation playoff places is now just one solitary point so fingernails are being bitten now!.
The games are starting to run out now and we desperately need to start picking up points soon starting with today’s game vs third-placed IK Brage. Brage’s of match odds of 1-3 to win the game showed what a big task we had ahead of us. We again changed some of the instructions mainly changing Sletsjoe to a mezzala as I want the midfield to link up more with the front two as we tried to find a way of at least scoring a goal to please the 1 away fan we would surely have making the 140-mile trip with us to Borlänge.
That desire to get a goal was appeased almost immediately as we took a shock one-nil lead in the 3rd minute when a very nice passing move on the edge of the Brage box ended with Genc smashing the ball from the D outside the penalty area past the outstretched arm of the Brage Keeper Rosendal. That how however was very short-lived as just 6 minutes later the score was levelled when our defence failed to get on the end of an Andersen flick on to give Anton Lundin a shot at goal which went past Miller in our net but it was a shot that he really should have saved in my opinion. It only took Brage another 7 minutes to complete the turnaround when Sellin’s curling effort from the edge of the box again went past miller. I then tried a few different instructions as I started to lose my mind trying to get back into the game and suffice to say none of them worked and the defeat was confirmed in the 62nd minute as Brage’s two-goal scorers combined when Sellin crossed from the left directly onto Lundin’s head as miller flapped his arms about with no real purpose and the ball flew right past him. So the game ended in a 3-1 defeat. One minor positive was that fact that our super loyal fan managed to find 8 other poor souls to drag with him to see us lose another game. Because of results elsewhere, we are now level on points with the relegation playoff places with only 5 games left and I don’t know where a win is going to come from.
So that is where we are going to leave it for today people, it has been a very tough start to life in Sweden with Syrianska FC as we’ve begun Mission Avoid Relegation. I didn’t expect the job to be this tough but we will come back and try our hardest to keep this team in the league. Let me know if you think we’re going to manage to avoid dropping into the relegation playoff places.
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