Every managers career starts with that first club willing to take a risk on him (especially a manager without an illustrious playing career on his CV). This first job will be pretty important, if we screw this up we could struggle to find someone to take us on next time, no pressure lads!
So, where do we start the journey? England is out of the question, Sylvan has too much pride to approach an English club cap in hand after how they have treated him in the past. On top of this, we started the save in July so all of the Nordic nations minus Denmark are already half way through their season, which isn’t the way we would ideally like to kick off our career. There a also a number of jobs that are obviously outside of our current ability, we rule out a few from the top two tiers of Holland and Portugal and this leaves us quite limited in our options. Eventually we settle and apply for two jobs.
The first of which is at Belgian 3rd tier team Rupel Boom (whom we chose partly due to them having such a cracking name), but upon further research it turns out Romelu Lukaku came through their youth system so that’s pretty cool. We also handed in our CV at Romanian 3rd tier team FC Bihor Oradea. Following a little more research (always learn about your prospective employers kids!) we found that their stadium is named after a club legend from the pre-WW2 era, Iuliu Bodola. Not the Iuliu Bodola stadium, not Bodola Park, literally just Iuliu Bodola, but they can squeeze 18 thousand people in there so that’s pretty impressive.
Both clubs were kind enough to offer Sylvan an interview and after he charmed his way around questions concerning his age and lack of previous experience things went pretty well. Oradea were first to approach him with a contract offer of £300p/w and were polite enough to allow Sylvan a week ponder it (Read: wait for word from Rupel Boom). When Rupel Boom were then happy to pay Mr Paulsson £375p/w, we had our first career decision on our hands. In the end, despite feeling more than a little guilty for leaving Oradea hanging, moving to Belgium seemed logistically much easier than starting up in Romania, plus Sylvan speaks a little French which could come in handy, maybe. But yes, Sylvan is starting his career off in Belgium, and is named new manager of RUPEL BOOM FC.
The OFFICIAL coat of arms for the city of Boom appears to be some sort of Angel/Wizard/Pope/Queen lady under a tree, holding a small child, who is also apparently missing some portion of his face. (Awfully sorry if you are a proud Boomenaar, and hopefully you will accept me learning the word Boomenaar as a sincere apology for my insolence).
Is Sylvan ready for Belgium? Home of waffles, chocolate, Hazard, Sjokz and sprouts, I’m sure he’ll do fine (sprouts really do get a bad rap). But is Belgium ready for Sylvan? I guess there is only one way to find out.
First thing we realise upon taking the job is, THE BELGIAN LEAGUE IS PROPERLY MENTAL. There are 18 teams each of the two third tier leagues (A and B, Rupel Boom being in B) and it appears that teams finishing 7th-18th all get relegated (what now?) and although the sentinel of knowledge that is wikipedia and FM league rules don’t seem to agree on what happens to the lucky survivors it seems as if the top two get automatic promotion, with the winner of A & B facing off for little/no reason other than giving the fans a nice day out. Then it appears that teams from 3rd to 6th across the two divisions have to fight it out for 5 promotion places. Nobody is entirely sure what they do to choose which 5 of 8 teams make it up to the Belgian Second League, but our personal aim is to make that top 6 to avoid the drop and then see what happens from there. The media prediction has us at 40-1 for an 8th place finish but we’re joined at 40-1 by each of the teams predicted 3rd-10th so we should have a reasonable shot at keeping our heads above water. Interestingly Beerschot-Wilrijk are 8-1 favourites for the title, miles ahead of Hasselt at 33-1 in second. We did a bit of research on Beerschot-Wilrijk and it appears that they recently merged the Beerschot and Wilrilk clubs after the Beerschot end went into bankruptcy and have since won back to back promotions (as well as a third this season in real life, which we of course do not count, what is this real life you speak so fondly of?). Who knew we’d actually end up learning something on this adventure?
So where were we? After half an hour staring at the league rules we can finally have a nose at the club itself. Our brief and unexciting meeting with the chairman is followed by chat with the fitness coach. Boom appear to be lacking an assistant manager, which is a bit of a blessing as it means we can bring in our own guy without all that horrible sacking stuff, not to mention the compensation that goes with it. Sylvan pops out mid-meeting and gets on the phone with Bart De Nul and offers him the assistant job straight away.
When we return to the fitness coach, apparently unperturbed by our brief absence we turn down the offer of an intra-squad friendly as there are currently only 4 actual players in the under 21’s and instead organise an additional friendly against Olympic Charleroi, before sending the fitness coach on his merry way to go do fitnessy things. We have a quick scope of the rest of the staff situation but opt against picking up any of the recommended under 21 or under 19 staff and instead will just move up the 5 people currently in these squads to keep funds down. From a glance at the finances it doesn’t seem as if the club is going to perform to wonderfully financially so we’ll try to be a thrifty as possible.
One final thing we make sure to do before really getting our hands dirty at Rupel Boom is ask the chairman if he’d be so kind to stump up the £450 required for Sylvan to acquire his very first coaching badges. Mr. Leijs is kind enough to send us to get our National C licence and in 4 months’ time we may have a nice shiny qualification to show for it.
The next post(s) will likely come at the end of preseason, where we’ll run through how the friendlies went for us, have good look at the squad at our disposal, as well as tactics, comings, goings, and any other exciting things that unfold at the start of our adventure!
Allez Boom! Gaan Boom!
(If anyone knows the predominant language of the people of Boom that would be lovely. Also Dutch seems pretty much Geordie which I’m 100% comfortable with so I may or may not be fluent).