I know this review is a little late, but in case you didn’t notice, last weekend saw the kick-off of the Superettan, Sweden’s second division. The competition comprises of 16 teams, with the top two automatically getting promoted to the Allsvenskan, with third entering a two-leg play-off against the Allsvenskan’s third last team.
Overall the competition is relatively even and having watched very little Superettan matches in the past I’m reluctant to offer my own predictions. However from what I gather from the pundits the consensus seems to be that the Superettan title will most likely be won by one of four key contenders: Hammarby, Örgyte, Assyriska and Syrianska.
The first two, Hammarby and Örgyte, would ordinarily consider inclusion in the Allsvenskan as their birthright. But both were dismal last season and found themselves getting relegated (and Djurgården were lucky not to join them). Admittedly ÖIS spent seasons 2007 and 2008 in this division and supporters are disappointed to seem themselves back here so soon. As for Hammarby, their relegation comes just when their long-suffering supporters thought they’d finally consolidated their Allsvenskan status.
Both sides have successfully kept their squads together and will be hoping for a quick promotion straight back up, Unlike many other European competitions, relegated teams in Sweden don’t seem to have the same pressure to sell players. ÖIS’ Alvaro Santos was determined to leave, obviously thinking the Superettan was beneath him, but with no club willing or able to make an offer, he’ll be stuck in the second tier.
Also amongst the favourites are Assyriska and Syrianska. Both come from Södertälje, and both have been built out of migrant communities, but expect some serious animosity between these two as they’ll both be competing for a precious spot in the Allsvenskan. Assyriska have finished in the top four in the past two seasons, and last season only missed out after losing on away goals in a spiteful match against Djurgården. They’ve recruited well over the winter, including Turkey’s Eris Ceyhun who has played for Fehnerbahce and Galatasaray. However not to be out done Syrianska have made one of the biggest signings in the Superettan in Nigerian striker Peter Ijeh, formerly of Malmö FF and IFK Göteborg.
One other team that will be closely watched will be Landskrona and their new manager Henrik Larsson. As one of Sweden’s most loyal servants a lot of people want to see him do well. And as is the case with many high profile players who enter management, many even assume he’s a great manager. Before Landskrona’s first match he was being linked to the vacant manager’s job at former club Celtic. I for one am actually quite cynical about Larsson’s managerial aspirations for the simple reason that players blessed with his sort of natural talent generally make poor managers. But I’d love to be proved wrong.