One of the contributing factors in Jocks approach to build the team around a core of players had to do with Brexit. When the UK left the EU, there were rules implemented that affected foreigners coming into the UK to play football. With the Premier League being hailed as the biggest league in Europe it naturally attracted a lot of foreign players.
English clubs were spending big money on British players. Arsenal forked out 42 million for Jordan Henderson in an eyebrow raising transfer. Chelsea sealed Jadon Sancho for 98 million, whilst under new owners, and new manager Rafa Benitez Newcastle splashed out a cool 192 million for Mason Mount, Dominic Calvert-Lewin & Jack Grealish.
This approach for Jock would hopefully achieve 2 things. One would be a stable core of players that understood the manager, his direction and the direction he wanted the club to go in. The second would be that it shows that once he’s got a plan in mind, you’re damn right he’s sticking to it.
Sorry to bring Graham Potter up again, but his story is the inspiration for Jocks. Speaking of Mr Potter, since being sacked from Brighton for some poor performances (they eventually got relegated) Graham is back to Scandinavia in his next job, although not in Sweden.
Norwegian side Rosenborg are his new employers, and despite not winning the league for a few seasons, they’re still Norway’s biggest side. We’ll keep an eye on them.
Graham Potter gave young players a chance at Östersunds FK in Sweden, as well as players that wouldn’t have got a game in any of the bigger leagues. These band of free transfers, loans and general misfits romped up the leagues in Sweden and that’s the idea for Jock and Tord. Bizarely, Enzo Schrieber has made 4 appearances for the Ivorian under 21’s side despite not having a club. Stanley Ukwouma hadn’t played a competitive game in just under 2 seasons despite being contracted to FC Boda. Rastoder, Cunningham and Jevric were all out of contract and all with a point to prove.
That was Jocks rallying cry of sorts. ‘You’re all no name, no hope nobodies. I’m here to give you the chance to prove people wrong. I’m a nobody, but I won’t be for much longer’
By the time Graham Potter left Ostersunds, he’d transformed that entire town and the people in it. They worship the man there. Jock wants to be the Graham Potter of Jönköping. There are another couple of teams in this town, Jönköping IK that plays in the Alsvensken, Jönköping Sodra IK play in the division above Tord. But they’re bigger, stronger and better than Tord, and have the following. Tord will need to be smarter than them in the long run. We’re getting ahead of ourselves here.
For this season Jocks plan was to be tough to break down, with plenty of running and a forward line capable of putting the ball in the net. They experimented with various set ups and decided on a 5-3-2 formation called Operation Ulysses.
This pissed off right winger Kalle Ekman who had been instrumental in the clubs final few games in staying up last season, who complained and said he’d outgrown the club
What Jock was looking for was players committed to change, and Ekman wasn’t one of them, so off he went to Karlsbergs. No not the beer.
One player who embraced this change, and who very nearly became one of the Tord five, was Erik Lindstrom. Naturally a left winger he’d asked Jock what his role would be, and Jock was honest when he said ‘Train to be at least competent at left wing back and you’ll always have a place in my team’. And so training began:
Until he’s comfortable in the role, he’ll be used from the bench. He’s got enough about to become a good wing back Jock and Pascal both thought.
Vanersborgs were Tords first opponents of the new season. setting up with the 5-3-2 things got off to a great start. An early goal from new signing Ukwuoma was taken well before experienced center half Mateusz Bocianski lost his head and deliberately hand balled to earn a red card.
Shuffling the side around slightly to accommodate being a man down, their heads didn’t drop.
A second goal game from an incisive break away. The back 4 held firm, found the ball to Khazzoum who kept his nerve and played in Ukouma for his second goal. To say they held on with grit and determination would be an understatement as Vanersborgs kept pressing and pressing, but the 10 men played magnificently well and by the time Vanersborgs had a man of their own sent off the game was dead and buried.
That win was the catalyst for the best month in Jocks career so far. 5 wins and no losses and an almost perfect record saw them occupy second in the league only on goal difference
The future may be bright, and for the time being it is most certainly pink.
Previous episode – The IK Tord five