We all like a fairy story; it appeals to the child in all of us, and long may it remain so. Regular readers of the modest and occasional archaic ramblings of this correspondent will be aware that he and The Local recently “adopted” the fortunes of the English football manager Graham Potter and his Swedish football “minnows” Ostersund FK in the Europa League. In previous posts this writer highlighted the work done in Sweden by arguably England’s most successful managerial export of recent years. The story and the magic continue for Graham Potter and his team. As was mentioned previously, Ostersunds FK have come a long way in a short time
English midfielder Curtis Edwards struck a 20-yard volley as Swedish minnows Ostersunds drew with Spain’s Athletic Bilbao to maintain their unbeaten start in the Europa League. Ostersunds once again took the headlines, though, despite being denied a famous victory against the eight-time La Liga champions by Inaki Williams’ 89th-minute equaliser.
Former Middlesbrough trainee Edwards, who moved to Sweden after playing for Northern League semi-professional side Thornaby, put Ostersunds within touching distance of a comeback win after Spain striker Aritz Aduriz had given the visitors the lead before half-time.
Ostersunds FK, managed by former Stoke and Birmingham full-back Graham Potter, levelled against the 2012 Europa League finalists through Salisu Abdullahi Gero after the break. Edwards, 23, volleyed in shortly after as they looked set to preserve a 100% record at the halfway stage of Europe’s secondary club competition.
But Williams tucked in Aduriz’s square pass as Athletic avoided a sixth defeat in their past seven Europa League away games. Despite being unable to clinch victory, the point puts Potter’s side in a promising position to qualify for the knockout stage on their European debut. Ostersunds were in the Swedish fourth tier when Potter took over in 2011 and have been promoted three times before winning the Swedish Cup and qualifying for Europe for the first time. Athletic, who finished seventh in La Liga last season, are five points adrift of the group leaders after two draws and a defeat in their opening three games.
P W L D GD Pts
Ostersunds FK 3 2 0 1 3 7
Zorya Luhansk 3 2 1 0 -1 6
Ath. Bilbao 3 0 1 2 -1 2
Hertha BSC 3 0 2 1 -1 1
In the next game Ostersunds FK, on 2 November, will play the return fixture against Athletico Bilbao for the fourth game of the group stages and Graham Potter is astute enough to know that his team will face a real test. The Spanish team, laced with international players is, at the time of writing, languishing mid-table in La Liga.
There is no doubt that whatever the future holds for Potter and his charges it’s been a wonderful ride thus far for his team. Nothing less than a win will satisfy the Spanish fans. The Spanish giants have been “stung” by their performances in the Europa and will realize that a win is vital to stay in touch. Another win for Ostersunds would be a wonderful achievement; however, the challenge is a daunting one. Whatever the outcome, we at The Local will continue to follow this great fairy story. We intend to show the Ostersunds games in the Europa League. Where else could you enjoy lunch on a Thursday afternoon but at The Local? Next game 2:05pm, 2 November