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Hansa Rostock | Swedish Mafia – Ep3: The end of 2020/21

In the last episode, Hansa Rostock had managed a stable mid-table position halfway through their first season back in the 2. Bundesliga.

Introduction

“…great opportunity…a new era…beautiful…”

Even though Rolf Elgeti was talking into a microphone the two journalists from the Ostsee-Zeitung couldn’t make out more than the occasional word from the speech he was giving. As they moved closer to the temporary stage that had been built for the press conference they looked at each other.

“What is this?” one of them asked the other. “Why has he called us out to this windy IKEA parking lot?” They both shook their heads, not sure what to make out of this press conference or whether announcements of any value would be made. The only thing the both of them were certain of was that they were most likely in for yet another one of Rolf Elgeti‘s antics. As they approached the stage it started to drizzle. They were not amused at all, but when they saw the fire in the Hansa Rostock owner’s eyes, at last they became intrigued.

“We are entering a new era! You are all invited here to witness Hansa Rostock taking the first steps on a journey that will eventually lead us to the top of the Bundesliga!” As Herr Rolf paused for a second scattered applause was heard among the spectators. “You might be wondering why I’ve brought you here today. Why we are standing outside this warehouse instead of sitting in the familiar warmth of our press room”. Many of the journalists looked around at each other and nodded. “There are several reasons. The first is simply the fact that if you want to tread a new path you have to get off the main road”. The spectators looked at each other and scattered applause was heard once again.

“As you have all been made aware of in the last couple of months a lot of changes have been made to the club. We’ve brought in a completely new coaching staff with strong ties to the club and the town and with one thing in common. They are all Swedish”. As the screen behind him turned into a Swedish flag and the former players – now coaches – stepped onto the podium a couple of the spectators started cheering. A lot of the people who had come to watch Rolf Elgeti speak had grown up watching these players play Bundesliga football week in and week out and longed for the good old times to come back.

Capitalizing on the fact that he started to win the crowd over, Rolf Elgeti quickly continued. “Together with these men and our new exciting partner we are rebuilding Hansa Rostock from the ground up! That’s another reason why we are here. When the next person walks onto this stage you will witness something unique in Hansa Rostock history, a giant stepping stone in our journey towards the top!”

Now most of the spectators were either clapping or cheering or both. “What was he up to now? Was he going to reveal a major signing? Maybe a former player of the Swedish national team or perhaps even Die Mannschaft? Someone who would be certain to lead the team straight out of the third division?” An expectant murmur among the crowd started spreading.

The stage emptied and became dark. Music started playing as some sort of fire show started at the front of the stage. The spectators were now looking and behaving more like the crowd at a rock concert and expectations were running wild. The big screen lit up again and this time the Swedish flag had four big letters in front it. I. K. E. A. IKEA. The fire stopped and new signings Roque Santa Cruz, Pablo Zabaleta and Lucho González stepped out on stage wearing blue jerseys and the crowd grew silent. This must surely be a joke? With a crazy build-up like that, was this all they were getting? Three players, none of them brand new spectacular signings? And were they actually wearing blue IKEA bags instead of jerseys? Out of the silence, laughter started spreading.

Herr Rolf rushed back on stage with a familiar twitch under his left eye. “You fools!” he cried out. “You think this is a joke? We are as dead serious about this as we are about the bright future of Hansa Rostock!” Once again the crowd went silent and he continued. “You will not be seeing any spectacular signings, that is certainly not the way to go. We will work with the players we’ve got and use our excellent Academy to bring a new breed of players into the first team. And when we sign players they will also be of the same caliber. They will have the character of fighters and champions and they will be as calm and composed as a Swede! This will also characterize the way we play. We will call this new approach “The IKEA system””.

At least no one was laughing anymore. Some of the spectators were silent because they honestly had no idea what to think. Others were silent because they had been suspecting that Rolf Elgeti had grown a bit mad. Now they were certain.

The IKEA system

Together with new partner IKEA, Rolf Elgeti and his staff have composed a rating system to better help them recruit the right kind of players and also get the most out of these players on the pitch. All of this is done in an attempt to reach the Bundesliga within the next five years. The new kit (thanks to Fmcustomkits) that you see on the left will also be released to highlight this new co-operation. The “IKEA rating” is  based on five key attributes:

  • Decisions – The ability to make the right decisions with and without the ball
  • Composure – The ability to stay calm enough to be able to make the right decisions
  • Determination – The commitment to do one’s best on and off the pitch
  • Teamwork – The ability to follow tactical instructions and work together with one’s teammates
  • Work rate – The willingness to use one’s full capacity

These five attributes together will produce a number between 5 and 100, a percentage of how much IKEA a player really is, the higher the better of course. The dream is a player that is as close to 100% IKEA as possible. In the Academy the goal will be to give the players a good foundation in these attributes and at the same time develop them technically and physically. When signing players the aim will be to scout for players with as high a percentage as possible. No minimum requirements have been set yet, as it’s hard to predict what level of players that will be available. Building the team on players with high IKEA ratings will provide the club with sturdy and composed players, willing to put in a bit of extra work under a strict tactical system.

The system was immediately put into use as the three players had been brought in. Three players with massive experince; Roque Santa Cruz, Pablo Zabaleta and Lucho González.

Pablo Zabaleta became the IKEA Rating leader straight away, being 76% IKEA. Not only functioning as a father figure in the dressing room he is good enough to be the first choice for us in central midfield! Hopefully he can be the player to keep us away from that relegation battle!

February-March

We started February with a second draw against fierce rivals St. Pauli. We had the lead until the final minutes, but at least we didn’t lose. We continued to look like a solid mid-table team and with 11 points in 7 games in February and March we were mathematically out of the relegation battle!

April-May

After that sigh of relief we relaxed. A bit too much. We lost the first two games in April before picking up two decent wins. A win in the final game against top-of-the-league Hamburger SV could give us a 9th place while a loss could potentially mean a drop to 12th place.

We were nowhere near good enough in the final game which saw us slip into 11th place in the final table. This gave us £8.6M to clear our debt and launch a bit of a rebuild.

A squad fitting a five-a-side team…

And a rebuild was an absolute must. With our three oldest players retiring and a bunch of players either refusing new contracts or demanding wages way too high, all of a sudden the squad consisted of nine players!

We managed to secure the contracts of both first choice central defender Joseph Baffo and top goalscorer Ousman Manneh, which gave us a bit of hope going into the off-season between the seasons, but we needed to find at least ten new players on a shoestring budget!

Despite the fact we had been given over £8M in prize money we didn’t have a lot of money to spend. After the board imposed a new vision of us to primarily sign players aged 23 or younger for the first team we had to skip scouring the recycling bin. Instead we had to turn to the loan market.

Through the power of loans our squad grew from 9 players to 29, even though we promoted a couple of youngsters as well! The most impressive signing of them all was a player that didn’t fit the new board vision of signing young players. Not even close!

What a signing! Mario Mandzukic comes in on a free transfer with heaps of experience, mentals you could die for and an IKEA Rating of 87! He’ll slot in perfectly next to Manneh up front and can hopefully make us climb the table!

All in all, my feeling is that this squad contains both enough quality and depth to improve our league position from last season, but the pundits predict us to finish dead last!

In the next episode we’ll take a look at the first half of the 2021/22 season. Will the team be able to fight for promotion next season or will they fight a relegation battle? I honestly have no idea!

Until next time, auf Wiedersehen!

This week’s YouTube episodes:

This series runs over three platforms. Episodes on YouTube three times per week (Mon+Wed+Fri), live streams on Twitch on Tue and/or Thu and a weekly summary blog post here.

Hansa Rostock owner Herr Rolf introduces a new Club DNA together with partner IKEA. Not everyone is as excited as he is though. Some are even calling him crazy…

We arrive at the end of the 2nd season with a mid-table finish already secured. The only question remaining is how much prize money we get to launch our rebuild. The aging squad needs to be replaced with young blood if we want to aim higher in season 3!

With only 9 players left in the squad going into the off-season between the 2nd and 3rd season, Hansa Rostock Manager Marcus Allbäck really needs to work a bit of magic to form a squad good enough to compete in the 2. Bundesliga. Will he get a squad ready for the opening game of the 2021/22 season?

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