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. Ostersunds FK continued their amazing rise under Potter by beating the German Bundesliga team Hertha Berlin to make it two wins from two in the Europa League group J.
The club was in the Swedish fourth tier when Potter took over in 2011 and has been promoted three times before winning the Swedish Cup and qualifying for Europe for the first time. The club goes from strength to strength. Midfielder Brwa Nouri scored the winner against the German side from a penalty.
This modest and homily little club have never reached the dizzy heights of a major European competition in their history. In group J of the Europa competition, also containing Athletico Bilbao, Ostersunds FK traveled to the Ukraine and opened their account with a 0-2 over Zorya Luhansk.
The penalty, in the second group game, by Nouri in the 22 second minute was enough to dispatch the German team in front of 8,000 passionate supporters. When Potter took over the reins at Ostersunds in 2011 the average attendance was 710 and now that figure has risen to 7,000 for home games. Granted, when faced with the home attendances by the bigger teams in Europe, the figure seems miniscule, but impressive nonetheless.
With Athletico surprisingly losing at home to Zorya, in the upset of the round, by a goal to nil; this unlikely team from north of Stockholm find themselves sitting clear on top of the group with six points.
P W L D GD Pts
Ostersunds FK 2 2 0 0 3 6
Zorya Luhansk 2 1 1 0 -1 3
Ath. Bilbao 1 0 1 1 -1 1
Hertha BSC 1 0 1 1 -1 1
In the next game Ostersunds FK will again play at home, the visitors being Athletico Bilbao for the third 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 and will travel to Sweden with the knowledge that a win is vital to revive their “spluttering” season thus far. The game takes place on 19th October.
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. The Spanish giants were “stung” by that defeat at home to Zorya 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?