A favourite style of play of mine on Football Manager is the restoration of fallen and/or sleeping giants. Nothing brings me greater satisfaction than building an affection for a team and bringing them up division after division in a road to glory. Football Manager is full of them if you’re willing to look hard enough, and the potential of taking one of these clubs to the very top could keep you going throughout the lifespan of each new iteration of FM.
So why Brondby IF? They haven’t fallen on that hard a time surely?
Well.. hmm… you better read this…
THE STORY OF BRONDBY IF
Brondby were formed in 1964 in the 6th tier of Danish football. As an amateur side, the club made reasonable progress by finishing fourth in their first two seasons. After the appointment of coach Leif Andersen, Brondby were promoted to the Sjællandsserienm and then the Danmarksserien with the help of an additional coach John Sinding
By 1973, Sinding was sacked by club chairman Per Bjerregaard. It was Bjerregaard that brought the legendary Finn Laudrup to the club as head coach, and subsequently became a family affair. Both of Finn’s sons – Brian and Michael – joined Brondby along with brother in law Ebbe Skovdahl. Finn Laudrup completely revitalised the play style of the club, bringing a more attacking philosophy, which resulted in a promotion to the 3rd division a year later. Finn then left Brondby in 1976 for pastures new.
The Laudrups – Brian, Michael and Finn
The early 80’s saw Brondby finally achieve promotion to the top flight in Denmark under new coach Tom Køhlert after Finn Laudrup returned to the club on a professional contract. Their first match in the top flight was a 7-1 win over B1909, with Michael announcing himself on the scene with a brace. This was enough to earn him his first Denmark cap, and in 1983 he was sold to Juventus for £1.2m. He finished his career at Brondby with a record of 24 goals in 38 appearances.
A league title came soon after in 1985, proving that there was life after Michael. The sale of the elder Laudrup brother allowed the club to really solidify it’s infrastructure, and invest in it’s youth set up. The following season saw Brondby make their European debut by beating Hungarian champions Honved 4-1. Rapidly on their way to becoming the biggest team in Denmark, the club was listed on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange and became the first fully professional club in Denmark.
From 1985 to 1992, the club dominated the Danish football landscape by not finishing lower than 2nd in each season. A Danish core was the key to success, with the team built around soon-to-be European Champions Faxe Jensen, Lars Olsen, Peter Schmeichel, Brian Laudrup and Kim Vilfort.
The Great Dane – Legendary keeper Peter Schmeichel won World’s Best Goalkeeper in 1992 and 1993
1990-91 was arguably the best year in the club’s history so far. Brondby were 2 minutes away from a UEFA Cup final before Rudi Voller sent them packing. Despite the success, this arguably backfired on the club, with Schmeichel, Bent Christensen and Lars Olsen all leaving the club shortly after.
… Led to Financial Ruin
After the European success, a share issue paved the way for the club to take over Danish bank Interbank. However, Brondby were surprisingly beaten by Dynamo Kiev in the qualifying round of the UEFA Champions League. This lead to the shares never reaching their intended value, which meant Brondby could not purchase the bank. Despite back up plans being in place, the club were forced to buy Interbank. This lead to the club amassing debts of 400m Danish Krone. This impacted the team’s performance on the pitch, with the next league title being won in 1996.
The big time – UEFA Champions League participants in 1998-99. Shame about the group!
Consecutive league titles then followed, with Olsen and fellow Euro 92 winner John Jensen joining the club. This experience combined with the emergence of goalkeeper Mogens Krogh and striker Ebbe Sand put the club back in the prime time. Notable moments from the late 90s include knocking Liverpool out of the 1995-96 UEFA Cup, and overturning a 3-1 home defeat to Karlsruher by winning 5-0 in the return fixture. The club also qualified for the 1998-99 UEFA Champions League, being drawn in the same group as Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester United (gulp).
The Return of the Prodigal Son
Double winner – Laudrup returned to win the league and cup
Under the leadership of Norwegian manager Åge Hareide 2001-02 saw the club lose a 10 point league to FC Copenhagen. A change to a 4-3-3 from a 4-4-2 yielded little success, leaving Hareide with no choice but to leave the club in the spring of 2002. Brondby still managed to win the Superliga on goal difference!
It was then announced that Michael Laudrup would take the managerial hotseat at the BrondbyStadion, with John Jensen as assistant manager. Laudrup established his rule immediately, getting rid of 10 players in the first team squad and preferring to rely on youth. This proved to be fruitful, as Brondby won the Danish Double in 2005. A year later, both Jensen and Laudrup left after their contracts expired.
Recently the club has found itself in disarray again. Rene Meulensteen was appointed and fired as manager within 6 months, and revealed that there were cliques inside the club and major infrastructure problems. Longstanding director Per Bjerregaard announced his intention to step down from directorship at Brondby, but taking up the post of chairman instead. Peter Schmeichel also announced his intention to buy the club, but his offer was rejected.
Køhlert returned at the helm, and somehow the club won it’s last major honour to date in 2008 as they beat Esbjerg in the Danish Cup final 3-2. As is customary it seems with the story of the club, Køhlert left shortly after success was achieved.
In July 2008, KasiGroup became the new club sponsor in a deal involving UNICEF. A stadium sponsorship was agreed, and funds were also to be provided to build the club up again. However, the owner of the KasiGroup refused to pay the club any more funds, supposedly owing the club (at the time) 45 million Danish Krone.
Digested all of that? Cracking.
I hope you enjoyed the story of Brondby. It certainly sounds quite the tale! The events of the last 40 years sound like a soap opera more than a football club. It’s been almost 10 years since Brondby last won a trophy, and clearly this needs rectifying. The core of the Euro 92 winning side were formed at Brondby, and it’s also been a while since Danish football had it’s time in the spotlight.
So where does that leave me in all of this mess? Well… the club clearly needs new leadership to stablise, rebuild and rejuvenate life in to such a historic club. My next update will feature more on the aims that I have, the philosophies I wish to introduce, along with the tactics that I’m going to implement.
It’s gonna be an interesting ride. Stay tuned for the next post.