With the beginning of the new year, it spells the beginning of preseason for Finnish football clubs across the country. We begin the league season in April, but not before we have completed the group stages of the Finnish Cup and the friendlies that we have already arranged. In this update, I will introduce you to the squad, the staff and many other things relevant to the upcoming 2018 season.
Firstly, we will look at the backroom staff that I am working with this season. The boardroom consists of four people, with the chairman being Risto Ihalainen
, backed up by a managing director and two other directors. These are the men who finance the club, who can either hire or fire me from my job and also can speak openly about club related issues.
Working underneath the chairman and directors are the backroom staff. As the manager, I will be making many of the decisions in terms of my own staff recruitment, incoming and outgoing transfers for both senior and youth players as well as handling contract negotiations with existing players. For my right-hand man, I have inherited a player-assistant manager in the form of Markus Heikkinen
, who is a 39-year-old centre-back. Heikkinen will take charge of both first-team and youth training sessions as well as youth development alongside the coaches at the club already. Unfortunately, we will be losing Heikkinen at the end of this season as he has agreed a contract with Oulun Luistinseura to join them in December 2018 so I will need to find a new right-hand man by next season.
In the recruitment side of things, Markus Heikkinen also takes a key role in the club with his secondary job being the Director of Football and leading the scouting effort alongside a very promising chief scout Jouko Abdul-Rahim
and general scout Pekka Juntunen
. Abdul-Rahim will arrange and take part in assignments for our scouting team which will mainly be going around Finland due to our lack of scouting budget.
On the medical team we have two doctors and our physios Ari Korkala
and Pekka Juntunen, who also works as a scout for his primary role at the club.
I haven't been at the club for very long so I haven't had time to implement my own signings, so I have to use the playing squad from the previous regime. At the current stage, Juhani Pennanen
appears to be my best option inbetween the sticks for the season, but I will continue to look around for improvements.
In terms of full-backs, there are a few good young players, but they are perhaps not ready yet for a full season of competitive, promotion-chasing football so I may look to bring in some more experienced heads. We definitely need more depth in the centre-back position, with only Markus Heikkinen
and Lassi Nurmos
as our only options in that position.
We have one of the best midfielders in the league in the form of the young Brazilian defensive midfielder Jair
. However, we may struggle keeping hold of the 23-year-old, with a few foreign higher league clubs already taking interest in the midfielder. In the center of the park we seem pretty strong, however, we could do with some more strength in depth. On the wings I will look to sign a couple more players to bolster our options on the flanks.
I realise the need for clinical goalscoring at this level of football, so I will try and plough as much money as possible in investing in a good striker for this division, as I don't think Toni Tahvanainen
or Alvarado Morín
would make regular appearances in any promotion-winning side due to their ability.
At 2/5 odds to win the title, IFK Helsingfors are the clear favourites to take the spoils this season following their relegation from the top-flight last season. The favourites claim some of the most talented players in the division so it is no surprise to see them rated so highly by the betting companies.
Our club, on the other hand are a safe bet at 4/1 odds to win the title, filling the position of fourth favourites to win the title, behind Helsingfors, Jaro and KPV. If we bolster our squad further I believe that we can achieve much higher feats than expected, particularly if we don't lose key players like Jair.
At the bottom of the table, Haka and Klubi-04 are expected to take the drop further down the Finnish footballing pyramid with relegation this season.
As a lower league club, I find the factor of club finances very important in the club's progress. The finances decide whether the board feel confident enough to invest in the club and my transfer budget and wage budget are both decided on this aspect.
Right now, we are in the red by almost £30,000. However, we have been able to scrape together a lot of money through our sponsorships from the start of the season, but it remains to be seen how much money we can make from gate receipts and other matchday-based income, but it is true that we need to start making more money throughout this season.
Due to the long break between seasons that is prevalent in Scandinavian football, we have a lot of friendlies to restore match fitness. Alongside the many friendlies organised, we play five Finnish Cup games, with two qualification places to the next round, so I hope to be competitive in that. Our first league match will take place at the end of April against the league title favourites Helsingfors and the league will run all the way through until October this year.
Cheers buddy! Trying to create a range of different update styles to see what works best and ACOTV could be a regular feature.
Thanks! Been really loving Scandinavian saves because they're always a challenge and they make for very quick seasons due to the length of the league campaign. Hopefully a cup run is on the cards