The Swedish Connection

Often forgotten back home, English football coaches have had a history of success in Sweden. Their fame goes back over sixty years. After a visit to that country, it is evident there could be more in the near future.

The Swedish Connection

Michael Jolley Swaps Burnley for Sweden

A recent example of an English football coach moving to Sweden. He arrived from the north of England and says he is settling well into his new environment. Jolley certainly has a challenge on his hands at AFC Eskilstuna in trying to lift the club above the relegation places.

AFC have a had varied history of name changes and ground moves together with an apparently controversial ownership. Despite all that, on the afternoon they played league leaders Malmo they showed those watching a committed performance which ended with a stunning 3-1 victory.

It was a win that was down to the coach’s tactics and the prowess of Sierra Leone striker Mohamed Turay. The front man headed two fine goals in the victory. The result will hopefully build enough momentum to take AFC out of danger and help to enhance Jolley’s reputation.

A Rare English Coach in the Europa League 

Meanwhile, further north in Ostersund, another English football coach is working his magic.

Graham Potter has brought Ostersund FK up from the fourth tier of Swedish football into the top level. He secured the Swedish Cup in 2017 and is establishing them as a force in the Allsvenskan. 

Many feel he could well move on to one of the top clubs in his adopted country. However, an early season loss against AIK from Stockholm did provide one blip along the way. But Ostersund are still in the UEFA Europa League, meaning Potter is a rare English coach involved in that competition.

The Bob and Roy Show

Potter and Jolley are two modern examples of English football coaches venturing to Sweden. However, they are following a well trodden path.

Roy Hodgson would eventually find worldwide fame. He took an unheralded Halmstads team from nowhere to Swedish titles. Then managed Malmo to various titles and success in Europe. Locally revered for such exploits as well his abilities with the Swedish language Roy, of course, went on to considerable success with international teams.

Bob Houghton had preceded Hodgson at Malmo and he famously took them to a European Cup final against Nottingham Forest in 1979. This is the only time a Swedish club has ever reached the final of a European competition. Houghton and Hodgson are often credited with transforming Swedish league football.

George Raynor – Legend

But before those two there was George Raynor. He went from coaching Aldershot reserves to managing the Sweden national team in 1946. And he became a legend.

Firstly, he led them to the 1948 Olympic football title at Wembley. What followed was appearances at the World Cup in Brazil and the 1952 Olympics before he led Sweden to the 1958 World Cup final.

Though they lost then to a brilliant Brazil team, it had been a remarkable journey. Not that it counted for much back home in England where he subsequently spent time coaching Skegness Town.

There is no doubt Michael Jolley and Graham Potter will be hoping to follow the Roy Hodgson route rather than a spell at a remote east coast town.

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