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The season has come to an end here in Sundsvall and we have achieved something that has never been done before in the club’s history. We have equalled our best ever finish, joint with the 1988 season and, with the Svenska Cup final to be held next summer, may even have secured a route into European football. Yet, once again, the league table and the round of fixtures doesn’t feel too inspiring:

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Five wins from ten is on a par with what we’ve achieved across the year but, again, goalscoring haunts us. To end the season with just over a goal per game and an xG underperformance of over seven goals is only kind of ok by the fact we’ve had, by far, the best defence in the league, conceding at a goal every other game and overperforming our xGa by a mammoth fourteen goals. We endured a bit of a tricky run against Hacken, then above us, and Norrkoping, who completely bottled the title at the last and, including our loss at home to Goteborg too, suggest we cannot yet quite mix it with the big boys. Malmo, in this equation do not count – we’ve won all four games against them in my two years in the to flight and we also overcame huge underperformers Djurgardens. The issue comes, and has been aware in pretty much every game other than the Varnamo tie, when we just don’t kill the game off. Creating an average xG of just 1.53 with 72 chances (2.4 per game – 14th in the league) means that we need to ensure that, when playing like this, each and every shot goes in. Our 9% conversion rate puts us dead last in the league, some eight percent below joint-top scorers Sirius, who lead the way on this metric. Second in dribbles per game and fifth in cross completion would suggest that we are doing the build up right, but sixty-three box passes per game, tenth best in the league, still suggests that the final ball and final moments aren’t quite right.

In terms of players, the first team put in some decent showings, but my best performers were Palsson and Johansson, below:

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The former is my standout winger but he, himself, has found goals hard to come by – netting once this year, some six less than last time out. I changed the role from IW(a) to W(a) after the Nilsson signing, looking to utilise his aerial threat but, realistically, I should’ve favoured Palsson strengths, which lie in his ball carrying and not his delivery. The surprise man on the list is seventeen year old Johansson, who I hadn’t even considered to have played over half of the minutes available to him. As the youngest player in the setup, I’ve been delighted to see how he’s linked with Ilaix Moriba, Yaya Kader Fofana and Ludvig Navik, becoming one of the most valuable outfield players. Five goals and an assist actually put him as my second top scorer, a real signal of these offensive woes but one which builds a huge foundation for him to work from.

Sadly, the youth intake this year doesn’t appear to be able to create more of these graduates who can slot into my first team soon.

But…

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I signed the contract and my time at GIF will come to an end in a matter of days. My time here concludes with fifty-seven wins and forty-one draws from my 117 games, scoring 196 times and conceding 85. In that time, I’ve reshaped the club, creating a brand new style for the level we were at, winning the Superettan in my first full season and then recording two top half top flight finishes in the two seasons that followed. At the club, I’ve been able to bring through youngsters from the academy: Palsson, Aberg, Rosenborg, Begovic, Svensson, Johansson and a number of now-released youngsters have made their senior bows under my tenure; one of my core principles as a manager. Furthermore, I’ve recruited well – yes there have been almighty flops but Yaya Kader FofanaManasse Kusu and Marko Johansson are all quality players, plus, I’ve managed to convince Ilaix Moriba and Emil Forsberg, two heavyweights of the European game, to spend time at the club. With over €4m in the bank, we’re now considerably more financially stable and have a strong backroom team that the next manager can look to build upon.

Realistically, our glass ceiling had been hit and there was no way that I’d be able to smash through it in the next couple of years. Any further success at Sundsvall would still have been classed as a giant-killing. But now, now that I have a foothold in Swedish football, I – Torbjorn – must push on in search of league titles and European success. To do that, I need to be here:

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Author

  • Ben

    Ben has been a long time contributor to the FM community previously on The Dugout and the SI Forums. He is known for his great in-depth tactical analysis and an increasing level of understanding of data led recruitment. His FM saves are always in-depth and he delivers both his knowledge of the game and great storytelling including a talent for squad building, progressing youth players and finding diamonds in the rough. His saves are really popular within the blogging community. He is also the creator of the popular skin “Statman”

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