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There Is No Cow On The Ice

2054 Open Thread

July 2054.

Let’s be honest.

The 2054 World Cup was a massive disappointment. France versus Germany in the final? Booooooring. Not interested.

Brazil and Argentina, reaching the semifinals? Unsubscribe.

We watched every moment of the tournament, but found no inspiration. We simply enjoyed the downtime — although, if anything, we have too much free time. Time to take stock of our lives, reach out to those closest to us, reconnect, rebuild relationships that have withered due to a lack of attention.

That being said, I’m not sure why I keep getting calls from Tuscany. I don’t recognize the number. And they never leave a message. Seems sketchy. Probably a telemarketer or scammer. Best ignore it.

August 2054.

I’m not going to lie, I miss football. The sounds of the game.

The media have had a field day linking us to various club and international positions. But as tempting as a return to Partizan, Gladbach and the Belgian national side might be, I know that it would be wrong.

And Zlatan maintains that, if we just bide our time, he has the perfect destination for us. A prestigious club, in desperate need of rejuvenation. A club holding on to their current manager, in hopes that he can make the changes that are so desperately needed.

He can’t. He won’t.

But, mindful of Zlatan’s sage advice, we bide our time. We wait.

September 2054.

The Board have dithered. For far too long.

But, in their own time, they’ve made a change. Ryan Cherki, sacked. The loss to rivals Djurgardens on Matchday 22, the final humiliation. Malmo, projected to win the Allsvenskan, sitting an abysmal 11th.

For shame, Ryan. For shame.

We promptly confirm our interest in the media, and reach out to the Board directly. It would not the riches we are used to. But that does not matter. It is the ideal “next chapter” in our journey. A break from the bright lights of the “more prestigious” European leagues.

We stand ready to enter the fray, as the Allsvenskan rumbles on.

We wait for the phone to ring, as it most certainly will. Any moment now.

November 2054.

As the weeks pass by, we can hardly understand what is happening.

Our calls go unanswered, as Malmo drop points domestically and in Europe. We repeatedly affirm our interest in taking the helm of the club to the media, on background at first, then on live television. The supporters march in protest, while the Board maintains that they will give their interim manager a chance to finish out the campaign.

The lads on YouTube at FullTime Malmo have a field day, mocking the Board’s indecision.

And still nothing is done. Malmo finish the campaign a shocking 9th in the table, and the loss in Toulouse is too much. Malmo sit on the brink of elimination from the Europa Conference League. Enough is enough.

The phone rings. No matter our frustration at the Board’s dithering, we know that this is where we want to be. Over the next few days, the media furor builds as Zlatan is seen around town, taking in the sights, renewing acquaintances, building relationships with supporters (the most die-hard of whom are skeptical about his return, to put it charitably).

Finally, the formal offer is made. We do not hesitate.

The foundations are here, even if the results have been far beneath the standards expected of a club of this stature, including a recent relegation.

And while we know that more prompt action on the part of the Board would have allowed us an earlier “bite at the apple,” we’re here now. With a task in front of us. The past is past.

As Zlatan awkwardly carries Jessie across the threshold of our new, shared home on the outskirts of the city, we all know. We’re home.

With 2 matches to play in the campaign, progression to the Europa Conference League knockout rounds is not out of the question.

We simply need a little help from the French on Matchday 5…and a result on Matchday 6.

November 2054.

Our initial review of the squad is an exercise in self-flagellation. And not in a good way.

We will be playing my Nagelsmann-inspired PM Haaienkanon (in both its strikerless and “inverted strikerless” variations), with PM Haaientand as an option in Europe when we need to sit deeper.

The most impressive senior players are William Karlsson and Karl Isaksson, who will pair in midfield as our mezzalas. Karlsson simply isn’t fast enough to play up top in our systems.

Other senior players of initial note include are Carlos Alberto, Joakim Englund, and Tasos Kakiousis.

The most promising players in our Reserves and U18s are Andreas Wikstrom, Janne Johansson, Alban Maloku, and Andre Velander.

Bottom line? We need to start planning for the transfer window. Our first task is to build a squad that will dominate the Allsvenskan.

November / December 2054.

In hindsight, it is a good thing that we did not wait until our appointment to begin outlining possible targets, especially since we’d been tracking several of these players while at Club Brugge.

The first three signings in the door thus arrive before we kickoff against Sheriff in the Europa Conference League — Fredrik Akesson ($375k, Falkenbergs) who will train as a roaming playmaker; Axel Helkamo ($700k, HJK) the Finnish Peter Crouch, who will be one of our centerbacks; and Amund Lochen ($750k, Brann) a Norwegian who will lead the attack.

Fredrik, Axel and Amund are treated to a special night at the Malmo Stadion, as we thump Sheriff 5-nil. The French take care of business as well, meaning that a win in Austria will see us through to the knockout rounds. We may not deserve it, but we’re aiming for it.

More good news follows, as we confirm the signings of Christian Andersson ($1.5M, Kalmar) and Brighton Letsholonyane ($1.1M, Mamelodi Sundowns). Andersson will play as a right wingback. Brighton is our new libero, and perhaps the player I’m most excited about.

In Austria, the lads are wasteful in front of goal. But we are dominant, easily the better team. And in time our dominance turned into goals. We claim a 2-1 win to secure European football in 2055. But the reality is that we must improve.

It may not be glamorous, but it is a beginning. The beginning.

Our goals for the 2055 campaign? Not embarrass ourselves in the Europa Conference League, where we drew Mathias Jorgenson’s Getafe. Battle for the Allsvenskan title. Win the Svenska Cupen, to secure European football for the 2055/56 continental cycle.

Note: 2 matches over the course of a single month do not warrant a full-blown season review. So, we will simply push on to 2055, as the Open Thread formats will now adhere to a calendar year schedule, to match Malmo’s schedule.

If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused… Don’t worry.  The basic concept behind the Nearly Men save is explained here.  Just need to catch up? Each installment in Nicolaj Bur’s story can be accessed through the Nearly Men Archive.

And if you just can’t get enough…join us for The Ballad of Toothless Bob, a series that explores the world of Nicolaj Bur, away from the pitch. What is Project Arcturus? What lies beyond the twisted redstone door, deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabéu?

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