Fotballklubb Bergen Seier
Where do I begin? It's been a season of extremes for new boys at FK Bergen Seier. Bittersweet in many ways, the 18/19 season saw an exceptional season on the pitch almost ruined at the death as a seemingly mentally fragile team let one last minute defeat see them lose a seven point lead with four games to go, leaving us needing 3 points on the final day to clinch the title. Thankfully, we did just that, beating 4th place Honefoss 3-1 away form home. However, the season wasn't without its low points. A shock 5-0 home defeat to Alta, who also beat us way 1-0 to give us our only 2 losses of the season, saw a red card, 3 penalties against us and 2 shocking mistakes that plunged the dressing room into chaos. It took a few games for the team to recover, and I probably didn't help maters by both privately and publicly lashing out in frustration at the loss. Nevertheless, the first season can definitely be classed as a resounding success.
On The Pitch
It's difficult to complain with any season where you finish top of the table. After a somewhat uninspiring start, and barring the aforementioned dip in form about midway through the season, we controlled our place at the top of the table for the entire second half of the season. However, 5 games before the end with a seven point lead, we lost 1-0 away to Alta, and followed it up with two 1-1 draws, reducing the gap between us and Asker to just 2 points with 2 games to go. We snatched a 1-0 win in the 90th minute in the second last game, and after a team meeting where I applied a lot of pressure to perform, we walked out comfortable 3-1 victors and Second Division Group 1 champions.
Our success was bought about by tactical changes. We started the season with our main left back injured, and following the injuries of our second left back and our starting right back we were forced to play a few weeks using a 3-5-1-1 formation, to limited success. Eventually however, we settled on a simple 4-4-2, which yielded impressive results. This has however caused issues due to our lack of depth at striker; only 3 players were capable of this role as I'd always planned to play 1 up front, so when Niklas Castro fractured his back, keeping him side-lined for 4 months, young winger-come-striker Ole Erik Midtskogen stepped up. And boy did he impress, netting 11 times and assisting 5 more, including the winning goal in the final game of the season, in 15 starts and 8 substitute appearances.
The undoubted star of the season, however, was young Swedish hitman Valmir Berisha. His performances were so consistent and impressive that Premier Division teams are circling like sharks to snatch the 22-year old, who led for both goals and assists with 25 and 13 this season respectively in 26 appearances, a performance that saw him come runner up in the race for the golden boot to Asker's Papa Sow (34). Other noteworthy mentions include makeshift central midfielder Jørgen Kolstad, who comfortably controlled play from a deep-lying playmaker position and even grabbed 3 goals and 4 assists for himself, and captain Mathias Blårud, who partnered with Kolstad and led our team from its heart. Erik Brenden also had an impressive season on the right, scoring 8 times and assisting 9 to finish as the clubs second highest assister.
Off The Pitch
Despite the resounding success on the pitch, the private side of the club has witnessed some ugly scenes in the past year. Several players are set to leave the club; 31-year old Czech midfielder Jan Kralik is on the transfer list after an early injury kept him from the side too long for him to stake a late claim, and the subsequent decline in his ability has left him far below the standard required for our season in the Norwegian First Division. Midfielder Kevin Mankowitz will also depart the club in search of first team football after making just 9 appearances for the club this season, managing an average rating of 6.7 and his only memorable moment being his sending off in the 5-0 home defeat to Alta. 33-year old goalkeeper Olav Dalen is looking for a loan to get more playing time, and 30 year old defender Lars Emil Flakk will likely be replaced if a strong alternative can be found.
The main drama however came from Lars-Kristian Eriksen. The veteran 35 year old asserted himself early as a highly influential squad member, and despite his obvious quality his older legs got him into trouble consistently, leading to him failing to start more than 10 league matches. His lack of football caused a rift in the dressing room as the starting 11 sided against his inclusion and fringe players pushed for it, leading to a few heated meetings, public outbursts and constant media speculation. It's safe to say his contract at FKBS will not be renewed.
Another area of concern has been the club finances. Despite good control of the wage budget, we've plummeted into a deficit of around £350,000. This means we'll likely have to make a few sales to try and balance the books. Nevertheless, I've been given a wage budget of over £30k for the coming season and a transfer budget of £611,000, with which I'll be looking to add depth and replace departing players with younger prospects.
It's been a successful season. A title win and the consolidation of the club's finances for the next season are both in line with the initial aims I set myself, if not an improvement upon them. There were unsavoury scenes in the dressing room but nothing that can't be resolved and the bulk of the team are still behind me, with the squad hierarchy slowly taking shape. Looking back, I'd have liked to keep Mankowitz for the depth he offered in midfield, but I'm not too heartbroken as at 26 he is already playing at his full potential and is nothing more than a 'decent' option. I feel things would have been easier had Niklas Castro stayed fit, but that was out of my control. Overall, there's little I would have done differently and I'm excited for the season ahead.
The next update will be at the end of the 19/20 pre-season. In that time, it's incredibly likely that several things will happen. Overall, the targets and priorities for the next season are:
To assert ourselves a First Division side with a strong mid table finish (8th-12th out of 16).
To reach the third round of the Norwegian Cup.
To ensure the departure of Jan Kralik, Kevin Mankowitz and Lars-Kristian Eriksen on a permanent basis and the departure of Olav Dalen on a temporary one.
To sign at least one young player with four and a half star potential or higher, as well as a backup left back, right midfielder and left midfielder.
To keep a hold of Valmir Berisha if at all possible.
To sign a manager at last for our second team (FKBS2).