Five losses in six games, a team in chaos and disparaging remarks about the board combined to make Djurgården manager Lennart Wass the first head coaching casualty of the 2011 Allsvenskan.
Wass took over during the winter and immediately declared he thought Djurgården had the talent to compete for a medal. His pronouncement proved not only premature but wildly optimistic as Djurgården has lost five of its first six matches. DIF collected its only point this season in an Opening Day scoreless draw with AIK.
Wass and assistant coach Carlos Banda came under increasing criticism as the losses mounted and the quality of the team’s football seemed to drop. Wass, however, placed the blame squarely on the board of directors, saying its economic policy was killing the squad. The Djurgården board vowed it would not spend money on new players until it balanced the books. That stance, however, sent a message to the players – right or wrong – that the board didn’t care much about the team. As Wass’ frustration grew, so, too did that of many players.
In an extraordinary meeting April 24, a group of players vented to the Swedish media, saying the board, “Had no idea how to run a modern football team,” while blaming general manager Stefan Alvén for undercutting the efforts of Wass and assistant coach Carlos Banda.
Things finally came to a head May 1 when Trelleborg beat Djurgården 3-2. The board sacked Wass, appointing Pehrsson, who previously coached at Aalborg in Denmark. The board also made an about-face on players and announced it planned to sign a pair of Kosovo internationals.
Pehrsson, 42, was the first choice over the winter to take over as manager but he was still under contract with Aalborg. When the Danish club sacked him as manager, he remained with the team as an advisor, mostly to serve out the remainder of his contract. However, when the crisis at Djurgården hit, Pehrsson opted out of the remainder of his deal and went to Stockholm.
The new manager has a daunting task as Djurgården sits dead last in the league and its management took a hit May 4 when Alvén abruptly quit after he received death threats via e-mail.
According to a story on the Djurgården Web site, an unknown person calling him or herself “Justice DFG” vowed “reprisals” on Alvén and his family if Djurgården loses its next match. Alvén promptly quit. However, sources around the club hinted the general manager was against hiring Pehrsson and doesn’t get along with the new manager and that, more than the threat, made him decide to quit.
By Chipp Reid
Göteborg 2, Malmö 0
MALMÖ – Tobias Hysén scored twice to lead Göteborg to a 2-0 win over Malmö May 2 at Swedbank Arena. Hysén scored both his goals in the second half. Malmö lost for the second-straight week and fell to third in the standings. Hysén has now scored in two straight matches and has four goals this year.
Elfsborg 2, GAIS 0
GÖTEBORG – Elfsborg won its third-straight match, knocking off GAIS 2-0 April 29 at Gamla Ullevi Stadium. Lars Nilsson scored both goals from the penalty spot. Both spot kicks came in the first half.
Mjällby 3, Norrköping 0
NORRKÖPING – Mustafa El Kabir scored twice to lead Mjällby to a 3-0 win over IFK Norrköping April 30 at Nya Parken. El Kabir, who is set to move to Heerenveen in Holland scored once in each half. Daniel Nicklasson also scored for Mjällby.
Trelleborg 3, Djurgården 2
TRELLEBORG – Fredrik Jensen scored twice and Marcus Pode had a goal and assist to lead Trelleborg to a 3-2 win over DJurgården May 1 at Vandavallen. Trelleborg did all of its scoring in a seven-minute span at the start of the second half. Philip Hellquist netted both DIF goals. Djurgården remained winless this season with the loss.
Kalmar 2, Syrianska 0
KALMAR - Daniel Freire Mendes had a goal and assist as Kalmar knocked off Syrianska 2-0 May 1 at Guldfågeln Stadium. Mendes scored in the 83rd minute and set up Ricardo Santos for an injury-time goal.
AIK 1, Örebro 0
ÖREBRO – AIK shocked Örebro with a last-second goal to claim a 1-0 win May 2 at Behrn Arena. Kenny Pavey netted the lone of the match two minutes into second-half stoppage time. AIK remained unbeaten in five games with the win.
Gefle 2, Halmstad 1
GÄVLE – Gefle kept Halmstad winless six games into the season with a 2-1 win May 2 at Strömvallen. Jakob Orlov scored twice for Gefle. Raul Ruiz Matarin scored for Halmstad.
Helsingborg 1, Häcken 1
HELSINGBORG – Mattias Ranegie scored his league-leading sixth goal of the season to help Häcken earn a 1-1 draw with Helsingborg May 1 at Oymppic Stadium. Ranegie gave Häcken a 1-0 in the 61st minute. Alexander Gerndt hit the equalizer three minutes later.