Setting The Tone
Kalle Koskinen Met With Chairman Antti Eklund To Discuss The Future Of Peimari United
"What I can offer you, Kalle, is a boost to the wage budget of roughly one thousand Euros extra per week. This would bring the total wage budget to just under four thousand Euros per week. That is all I can promise now until I have secured some sponsorship deals and other partnerships which will see the club benefit financially. If we can secure similar, if not better, deals to what we have had for the past year then I would expect to be able to increase the budget."
Increasing the budget was the major topic of conversation in our meeting. Just a day after lifting the Kakkonen league title after successfully quelling the challenge of MP Mikkeli at Lahden stadion in Lahti, the club chairman, Antti Eklund, and I had elected to sit down to put plans for the club into motion as soon as possible. My assistant manager, Taulant Kolaj, also sat in on the meeting as we planned to have all plans in place by the beginning of November. That would allow us the entire first month of winter to sign players that would align with our goals.
Following a successful season in Kakkonen (third tier in Finnish football), which saw us completely dominate the league and the Kakkonen Cup, we had decided that only a hand full of new signings were required for us to present a reasonable challenge for the Ykkönen title, and earn promotion to the Veikkausliiga, in the next campaign. However, we were acutely aware that the caliber of players which we were eyeing up would require a significant increase in our total wage spend. An increase of approximately twenty-five percent was a good start, but nowhere near enough.
I pondered what Antti had proposed. While the increase in wage budget was a relatively significant one, it was nowhere near enough for the signings I had planned. While I was still very much a rookie football manager, I was acutely aware that board meetings always required compromise and nobody ever left the room fully satisfied. It was nigh-on impossible to match everybody's ambitions in one sitting.
"I had hoped for more, to be honest, but I think the increase will suffice for now. Taulant and myself have decided upon which players we shall retain for next season and which players we shall let go. With some luck, we should be able to free up roughly seven hundred Euros per week more in wage budget from outgoing players. That is, of course, if we can find suitors for those who have contracts extending beyond next month.
In terms of planned incoming players, we have a provisional shortlist of players outlined. At the very minimum, we will be looking to bring in two attackers, two defenders and one midfielder. For our ambitions, we can expect to be shelling out three hundred Euros per week in wages for each player. That is, of course, if we get our targets. Any other signings on top of that would be a bonus, especially if we are able to secure the signatures of some of the country's finest youth players.
We do have to be wary that there will be some heavy interest in a number of our players. Aatu Hakala has impressed in goals for us this season and, as a regular starter for the national team's U19s side, is always in the spotlight. Kevin Larsson is also widely considered as one of the nation's top prospects and has impressed as an inside forward and, while he hasn't had the best of seasons, Rasmus Nielsen is still a hot property. To add to that, Sasha Popovitch has been heavily linked with a move to a Veikkausliiga by several media outlets. I haven't heard of any serious interest so far, but we could be looking at facing an uphill battle in keeping any of these players if bids do come in. They are prized assets of ours and, from a footballing perspective, we cannot afford to lose players of their quality and age profile."
Antti nodded in agreement before suggesting that the club would be forced to listen to offers if sizable transfer fees were discussed. We totted up what we believed to be reasonable selling prices for each player in the squad and, satisfied that the topic had been covered, we moved on to discussing other agendas which ranged from fan engagement to match-day merchandising.
As seconds became minutes and minutes became hours, we had come to agreement on a number of terms. Both Antti and myself had to make compromises with our ideals and our visions but that was part of running a club. It was important for the club to move in a similar direction but to have different approaches. It provided clarity in the form of multiple perspectives. In this aspect, Taulant was invaluable. Despite his inexperience in being involved in the world of football, particularly professional or semi-professional, he offered a previously unexplored perspective of things. While Antti offered a financial perspective and I offered a football perspective, Taulant offered a fan-based perspective. His words were a breath of fresh air which eased discussions.
The public image of the club's footballing philosophies on the pitch was one which pleased us all. Football fans across Finland had fallen in love with our high-intensity, incredibly technical style of playing. It required incredible discipline tactically, as well as a superior physical background and a strong technical foundation. It was 'total football' in its most modern form. The brand of football which we deployed, inspired by my former manager Pep Guardiola and former opponent Jürgen Klopp, was 'setting the tone for success on and off the pitch', according to Antti. I had made it my objective to uphold the philosophies which fuelled the on-pitch approach, and evolve the playing style to something which Peimari United could truly identify by.
The final agenda in the meeting was a somewhat personal one. With my relationship with Elsa Heikkinen beginning to blossom, it had become difficult for her to continue her position of employment reporting on my progress as a football manager. I felt partly responsible for Elsa's job becoming unsustainable and felt obliged to help her career to continue to progress. On her behalf, I negotiated a deal with Antti for Elsa to become the club's new Head of Public Relations. Elsa was to be responsible for the club's public image, with a keen focus on increasing the social media stature of the club.
The future of Peimari United was an exciting one. The club had not become a big one overnight. It still had many steps to climb, many challenges to overcome. However, it was becoming a footballing dynasty, piece-by-piece, and the Peimari United train was gathering momentum. The club was heading into the unknown. Having never been an Ykkönen club, the threat of the unknown was a dangerous one. But we were ready for everything that was to come. We were the lions of Paimio; we were the Paimion Leijonat. For better or for worse, the club had transformed my life. It was time for me to continue to transform the club.
, I'll be snapping at your heels soon enough
, that is the plan!
, hopefully we can keep the momentum going all the way through to the Veikkausliiga!
Previous Update: #36 - Peimari Lift Kakkonen Title With Final Win
Next Update: #38 - Season 2019: October