6. No, Deniz, you are not at home
After the unexpected takeover, things started not to feel the same anymore in Uppsala. Not until then had Deniz realized one thing: he was not at home, and the efforts to pretend he was and the attempts to feel at home were fruitless. The winter was rigorous, even more than it was in Germany. The snow would paint the whole landscape white and stay like that for weeks, making football impracticable during a whole season.
Moreover, the welcoming warmth of his compatriots has been substituted by the coldness of the new gestionnaires, pushing the community that built the club more and more aside. If not to be among friends and “family”, as he called his welcomers in the new country, why bother at all? If not to have people to protect each other, how could he guarantee that he was safe?
Because truth be told, you are always safe until the point you are no longer.
And yeah, yeah, Deniz still had a job to do, you know that already. So he put his head down and started working harder, focusing on his career, making sure that he is noticed and more and more respected. It was a shift in strategy: instead of seeking protection by keeping a low profile, he started to realize that it would get harder and harder to harm him if his presence was to be missed by more and more people. So that was it: become a better manager, unexpendable, hiding in plain sight, counting on the commotion that his departure would cause to make sure it would never actually happen.
The tools at his hands were still short of anything needed for a comfortable season, but Deniz managed to get it to work. The guerrilla strategy paid off at the events away from home, where rivals tended to expose themselves the most. A famous upset over Helsingborgs kicked off the season with the right foot, but the defensive approach was least successful at home, where rivals would come up with wary of our shenanigans. 7 points in 18, however, are not that bad in a league in which 33% of the points are usually enough to avoid direct relegation.
The next month started... well, showing that a defensive approach wouldn’t work against every rival; and given that the amount of points gained against stronger rivals would never be enough for safety, Deniz needed a strategy to grab points against weaker clubs. At this point, the championship started to pan out, showing who would thrive and who would struggle. Dalkurd could, finally, try to play some football against the struggling ones. And it paid off with 10 points being gathered in the 12 points available before the summer break.
Standings - 12 games in, 18 games remaining
The 17 points out of 36 available are not enough to escape the relegation fight in some leagues, but the Allsvenskan has an enormous gap between the best and the worst clubs, as is shown by the embarrassing struggle faced by Örgryte and Falkenbergs. Dalkurd rose to the eye to not be in the same situation as those two teams, and AIK, one of the big clubs in Sweden, started to grow interested in Deniz's avoid-relegation skills. Currently sitting in a relegation play-off spot, they were expected to finish the championship 7th. With a showing of this poor quality, they sent their manager packing, and that got Deniz to think. The third place in the contest for the German Manager of the Year made Deniz even more attractive.
Going to a bigger club means a bigger salary and better working conditions. Let’s face the facts: conditions of work in Dalkurd are still dragging behind the average conditions in the league, and moving to a club such as AIK would be a step towards a bigger reputation.
More than that, the bigger you are, the louder your voice. The opinions of a manager struggling to keep his job and his club alive has less impact than the ones of a manager being interviewed by global networks on a weekly basis.
Of course, that is just not Deniz. As a passionate man, he would never leave Dalkurd without giving the club a chance to offer him something of what he seeks. Let’s make the most out of this takeover, let’s seize the resources they brought towards something positive.
With this new mindset in mind, Deniz went to have with the new chairman:
- Come in, Mr. Naki.
- Good afternoon, Mr. Edlund.
Rickard opened a smile and greeted Deniz:
- So, Mr. Naki, to what do I owe the pleasure? You don’t swing by really often.
- Yeah, I know, I apologize for that. Still getting to feel the new environment.
- Okay… - said Rickard, in a defensive tone.
- Let’s talk business: I want to go out for a new course. Study, improve, become a better manager.
- You’re good enough for me if you ask.
- Seriously, Mr. Edlund, I mean business here. Pay me a UEFA A license, and I think we can do even better.
- Naki, I have watched this movie already. You get a better license, a bigger club comes and takes you away. I won’t let that happen. Furthermore, we need you at the training ground.
- Come on, you brought new people in, I’m sure they can handle it. And all the resources the club has got right now, we have the potential to be bigger.
- Naki, what kind of resources do you think we brought in? You think we are millionaires or what? We only brought more professionals in management, and they are no good for the training ground…
Deniz tried to say something, but the words didn’t come up for a while. He stuttered a bit before being able to respond. His response, however, did not help his relationship with the new board:
- If not to increase the club’s conditions, what the f*** was the point for this whole takeover bulls***?
Rickard’s pupils grew as he heard each swear word being roundly pronounced by Deniz.
- Mr. Naki, in respect of what you have been doing for this club, I will ignore what I just heard.
I don’t need your respect, Mr. Edlund. Have a great afternoon.
Deniz stormed off the room and send his agent a text:
“Get me on the phone with these AIK guys. Let’s discuss business.”
@ScottT well, for Dalkurd it’s almost in the bag, the awful display of Örgryte and Falkenbergs pretty much sealed the deal