JOURNEYMAN #3: NOT SO SUPER-ETTAN

With this being my first Journeyman save, I can’t say I was too clued up as to how people usually approached it.

My thinking was to stay in Scandinavia, but climb up the ladder, using the league rankings as a base. Iceland was ranked 60th after winning the title with Valur, which meant only moving to Finland would be a step down.

In my head the order would go: Sweden, Norway, Denmark. Initially there was hopes of diving into the Allsvenskan, but my level was clearly way off the top-flight, so we set our sights on Sweden or Norway’s second tier.

A great example of a Journeyman save belongs to FM Stinger over on YouTube. Definitely well worth your time and you always learn something from his content.

Looking back, we were only out of a job for nine days. Interview taken, then job offered. Sweden would be our next destination with Jönköpings Södra answering the call, taking charge on the 11th of October 2023.

Magnus Pehrsson was sacked with just two games to go in the season, which at least meant I’d have a full pre-season to mould the squad before attacking the Superettan. Luckily the team was playing 4-2-3-1, which we were using at Valur, and with 11 days before a home fixture against Halmstads BK, there was time to whip them into shape.

With 18 shots and an xG of 2.58, we were unlucky to only win 1-0, but the three points took us up to sixth and amazingly only two points off an unlikely playoff place.

More training, more working on tactics and a win over fourth place Norrby IF would give us a chance at the top division.

Beat Norrby (2-4)

Degerford lose (4-5)

But no, it wasn’t to be. A 73rd minute goal for Dalkurd in a 2-0 win meant they beat us to the third-place spot by ONE GOAL.

Gutted, but also quite happy. It may have been too much to go up now, I am still learning who this team is, and to have to build a first division side could have been too much too soon.

SIGNINGS

Maxim Yablonskiy – Free

Need someone on the left, but Maxim will change the role to an Inverted Winger. Speed, crossing, dribbling, decent passing and technique. Like the Aggression and anticipation and his off the ball too.

Neto – Free

Needed more fire power, and although he’s not as quick, he has the mentals and movement for this level, plus good first touch and finishing.

Marcos Enrqiue – Free

The former Boca midfielder cost nothing and if we are ignoring the injury issues, he looks very exciting as the DLP. I love the combo of passing, decisions, vision and first touch.

Also, why wouldn’t they want to join when they get to play in this town on the edge of a beautiful lake?

2024 campaign

Beating Hammarby 2-0 in a friendly gave me hope. Good enough to dominate top opposition, we should be ready to challenge at the top of the Superettan.

Over the opening 15 games, J-Södra won 13 times, including seven in a row, storming to the top of the table.

In my head, I’m strutting down the main street in Jonkoping looking like Vince McMahon. Maybe I shouldn’t be so cocky until the job is done.

*Narrator’s voice: He shouldn’t have been so cocky*

To this day, I’m still not sure what happened. Three wins in nine followed. Then one in four. Defeats against Kalmar and Trellborgs meant in the last 14 games we only managed FOUR wins.

In that time, we conceded 22 times, compared to 12 in the opening 15. There were no injuries, no changes. Something just broke.

Luckily, the gap we had created in the first half of the season was enough to stave off the competition and results went our way, handing J-Södra the title before the final game of the campaign.

The biggest tale of two halves I’ve seen in a long time, the team just collapsed, but…

CHAMPIONS!!!!

Neto finished top scorer with 15 goals, and the 72 managed by the team became a Superettan record. Imagine if we’d turned up for the last 14 weeks.

The foundations are there, just need a good summer to push this team forward.

Bring on the Allsvenskan

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