This Graham Potter inspired save also hinged on an emerging Norwegian talent – Albert Braut Tjåland, cousin of highflying Dortmund striker, Erling Haaland. The young prodigy made waves in the Bryne FK under 19’s, scoring goals for fun, which earned him a call up to the first team at the age of 16. Unknown to me, he’d actually signed for Molde just before FM21 and now plays for their under 19’s. A major blow. Fortunately, I managed to loan him back, which turned out to be key to our season. With no fee or wages from our now parent club, this was a fantastic bit of business for us. The hope is to continue loaning him until we can afford to make the deal permanent. He’s a player to build the team around long term.
Daniel Karlsbakk is another player to keep an eye on. He’s currently our one and only Norway under 19 player and clearly has great promise, bearing in mind our current division and level as well.
We got off to a fantastic start during season 1 and were sitting top of the league after 13 games, with Egersund close behind us in second. At this point the division split in half – teams in the top half fought it out for the title and playoff spot (B teams cannot be promoted), the bottom half teams battled against relegation and the relegation playoff places. It’s an interesting system in Norway – the Norwegian football pyramid uses a playoff system that pits teams from other divisions against each other. In our league (the Norwegian Second Division Group 2), the top team is automatically promoted and second place qualifies for the playoffs – the playoff qualifying team in this division plays the playoff qualifying team in the parallel Group 1 division as part of a two legged knockout phase, followed by a final knockout round against the team in the division above who finished in the relegation playoff spot. A tough feat indeed!
You can probably see where I’m going with this; we finished second and qualified for the playoffs. We did exceptionally well here, and squeezed through by the narrowest of margins (a second half penalty in the final game) to send us up to the Norwegian First Division.
Albert Braut Tjåland was pivotal and finished the season as our top goalscorer with 9 goals in 12 league games.
Finances and transfer activity were incredibly hard to manage during the course of the season. The stadium is rented and the club owes some debt. One of the goals for the season was to work within the wage budget and a longer term goal is to repair the clubs financial damage. To help with this, I sold as many players as I could and brought in numerous players on loan deals that incurred no contributions. I arranged a partnership with Premier Division side Molde too, to garner some extra income. That also helped us to extend Albert Braut Tjåland’s loan deal for a further two seasons. My strategy is risky, I know. I’m risking us having a very depleted squad at the end of each season working this way. Fortunately we’ve been able to extend loan deals for players like Antony Angileri (a regular in my side) and our promotion has allowed me to bring in some players of a higher calibre, including Real Madrid youngster David De la Víbora (a very promising left-wing back on a 2 year deal costing £0).
We played out the entire season using Graham Potter-like tactics, a post will be added to the series soon to cover this in more detail.
The board expect us to achieve a mid table place next season – they’re perhaps a little overzealous but I am pleased with the quality in the squad, albeit heavily based on loan deals.