2017 Mid-Season Update
We've reached the mid-season of the 2017 Superettan Season (our first at this level). Before I talk about where the club stands, I need to talk about the pre-season. Our pre-season was, for the most part, quiet.
We sold only one player which I mentioned in our last update. We bought two players: Daniel Sliper, a veteran replacement on the right wing, and Marco Hingerl, an all-around midfielder who's contract was expiring at Bayern Munich but with whom we worked out a sale so I didn't have to wait until July 1st to get him into the club. The rest of the transfers were loans to flesh out some depth to the club without having to depend on 17-year olds if there is an injury crisis at a position.
Sliper is being brought in to be the new right winger in our 4231 formation. He is primarily a right-winger but can also fill in on the left wing if we absolutely need him to. The same with either the attacking or central midfield positions. He's not the flashiest player but he is someone who can do the job at this level and that is all I'm asking him to. He doesn't need to be a world-beater just a Superettan beater.
Hingerl is an all-around midfielder who can play all four central midfield positions (attacking midfielder, central midfielder, box to box midfielder, and defensive midfielder). He's not a playmaker but someone I can put into a variety of positions depending on the status of those players around him. He's an upgrade over current roster options when it comes to passing, vision, tackling, and pace. He's a player who will get a lot of playing time this season.
After these minor roster adjustments, the media moved us from 9th to 7th in the pre-season poll.
We are the highest ranked promoted team with the First Division North champion picked to come in 10th and the First Division South runner-up picked to come in last. Now, that we are halfway through the season, how do the standings look?
We continue to fly high and sit in 2nd place. That said, things have not be easy going for us, at times, this season.
We started out slowly. Very slowly. We lost three of our first five game and it was the defensive end that was killing us. Nine goals allowed in three losses. That is not a good long-term formula for success. We were playing those matches with a "slightly higher" defensive line. After the 3-0 thrashing at the hands of Eskilstuna, I moved the line from "slightly higher" to "normal." The result was a 1-1 draw at well-supported Helsingborgs. After that, the wins started to flow. 3-1 against GAIS and then a four-game stretch where we didn't allow a goal at all. 10 goals allowed in the first five games. 5 goals allowed in the next 10 games. Quite the reversal. The another change was getting rid of the complete forward at the top and replacing him with a false nine. That change led to 11 goals in three games and 14 goals in the last six games.
Players of the First Half
3) Robin Ostlind -- the left winger continues to impress. He leads the team with six assists and has added two goals. He has the pace to get past most back in the Superettan. He's not as dominant has he was in the First Division South but he is still one of the top left wings in the division. I came really close to not re-signing him in the offseason. I'm glad that I did.
2) Ramon Pascal-Lundquist -- a player joining us on loan from PSV. My original intent was to bring him as a depth player at center forward. However, he was the key to making the change from a "complete forward" to a "false nine." He is slicing defenses in the Superettan apart with his passing and off-the-ball movement. In that three game/11-goal run, he scored six of those 11 goals. He leads the team with nine goals overall.
1) Manz Karlsson -- a solid center-back that has really come into his own this season. Been one of the first names on the team sheet. Great positioning. Good in the air. Clears the ball either out of bounds and allows the defense to reset or passes to a teammate. Very rarely does the ball end up with the opposition.
Finances are still a worry. Attendance has gone up from 2,100 a game to around 3,700 per game. Don't see a big impact in gate receipts because a single game ticket is only 10 euros. Wages are 18k per week. I can't go much lower than that without it affecting the product on the field.