Managers and players alike came and went during the month-long break for the European Championships.
While all eyes were on Poland and Ukraine for the 2012 UEFA European Championship, two Allsvenskan sides used the month-long break to institute regime changes.
Two clubs fired their managers while three others signed, lost or released players that either shines or disappointed in the first. To almost no one’s surprise, Örebro did the most house cleaning, firing general manager Lennart Sjögren and manager Sixten Boström. After winning the bronze medal in 2010, ÖSK has failed to live up to expectations and both Boström and Sjögren took the blame. Örebro has yet to win this season as its collection of players, despite their collective talent, simply hasn’t gelled under Boström.
ÖSK hired Per-Ola Ljung to replace Boström, saying it believed the former Helsingborg assistant could provide the “type of leadership necessary to restore our club. The club will refocus its efforts on restoring our organization and making this a fun place to play.”
Ljung became available when Helsingborg instituted its own purge, suddenly parting ways with Conny Karlsson, the manager that led the team to the gold medal last season. Helsingborg promptly sold off half the team that won the 2011 championship, saddling Karlsson with the task of defending the title with a new side. After a slow start, HIF is currently in third place in the standings, but Karlsson said the strain was simply too much.
“The decision feels right, but still sad. I feel that I do not have enough motivation for a fresh start,” he said in a statement on the Helsingborg Web site.
Ljung also left the club, making him available to Örebro.
Former Helsingborg manager Age Hereide agreed to come in as a caretaker manager through the end of the season. Hereide led HIF to the gold medal in 1999. He was coach at Viking in Norway until the club released him on June 9 as the team underperformed for two seasons under Hareide.
The new manager said he was looking forward to being back at Helsingborg, a team for which he has “strong feelings. It feels fantastic.”
All eyes now are on Göteborg manager Mikael Stahre, who so far has been unable to bring together the collection of stars the Angels assembled at the start of the season. Stahre, who won a surprising gold medal with AIK in 2009, has yet to duplicate that success in Göteborg and there is already talk of grumbling among the players and even at the board level. IFK general manager Håkan Mild issued a statement of confidence in Stahre before the Euro break, a move some observers say shows the club is already shopping for a new coach.
On the player front, an outcast goalkeeper is now the hottest commodity in Swedish football. Norwegian Kenneth Höie signed as a backup to countryman Kevin Stuhr Ellegaard with Elfsborg at the start of the season. When Ellegaard started the season on the injured list, Hoie stepped up and helped Elfsborg race to the top of the standings. Now healthy, Ellegaard is back in the starting lineup and Höie was back on the verge of being unemployed when Djurgården swooped in and signed the 6-foot-5-inch net minder. The contract goes into effect Aug. 1.
It appears the Eddie Hernandez experiment is over at BK Häcken. The Göteborg club signed Hernandez, a 21-year-old Honduran international, with thoughts the young Central American could fill the shoes Mattias Ranegie left when Ranegie joined Malmö.
Hernandez, however, has been a total flop with Häcken and general manager Sonny Karlsson decided to finally cut the club’s losses and sent Hernandez home. Häcken, which is in fifth place in the standings, is now shopping on the open market for a new striker.
Sixten Boström became the first managerial casualty of the 2012 season when Örebro fired him June 14. Bildbyrån photo