Ian Burchnall finding life tough replacing Graham Potter at Ostersunds
Ian Burchnall has been best known as Graham Potter’s replacement at Ostersunds, but that job is proving far more challenging than he might have expected.
Potter was the man who put Ostersunds on the footballing map, taking them from the regional leagues of Sweden to the last 32 of the Europa League in 2018.
It earned him a shot at management in English football, first with Swansea and now with Brighton in the Premier League.
And Burchnall is the man still picking up the pieces after Potter – managing a club who sold all of their best players, is heading for financial ruin and whose chairman is facing legal issues over the finances.
Most people might think they have been dealt a rough hand, but the 36-year-old is thriving in the situation, believing it is teaching him harsh lessons of life as a football manager.
“I came in and followed Graham, which was naturally a big challenge,” Burchnall told the PA news agency.
“He was regarded as the best coach in Sweden, so obviously it is not easy to follow what he achieved at the club.
“They had a bit of a hangover from the Europa League and had some bad results, but when I came in we did really well, we won a lot of games, we finished in the top six.
“This year has been a big challenge because of some off-field problems, the chairman has been away from the club due to legal issues surrounding finances of the club and now we are on the brink of bankruptcy.
“After selling all of the players from the Europa League, the challenge has been to keep the small club afloat and reinvent it all over again.
“That has been the challenge, we had the best start we ever had, but we have had a tricky little period.”
That tricky period has consisted of five straight defeats, which is putting their place in the Allsvenskan under threat.
Still, Burchnall, who had six years experience in Norway prior to the Ostersunds job, is taking it all in his stride and sees taking the job as a “compromise” he had to make as a young manager trying to find his way in the game.
“For a young coach to get your opportunity sometimes, you have to make compromises,” he added.
“Ex-players can walk into jobs, or they have a better opportunity of getting into a bigger job or more stable job and I totally understand that.
“As a young coach with not as much experience you have to compromise, you don’t get a top job, I know that.
“Then you have to take on a job that is going to be a challenge and involve fire-fighting and prove yourself a little bit under pressure.
“It has been a really good experience for me. I had six years in Norway and almost 18 months now in Sweden, so seven years abroad working in a top league and it has really shaped me as a football coach.”
It was not a lack of opportunities in England which tempted Burchnall abroad, but his success will almost certainly lead to the chance to manage in his home country.
He has recently been linked to the vacant managerial position at Southend and one day would like to come home.
“Being English and growing up around English football it would also be a great thing to be able to take that kind of challenge and see what you can do,” he added.
“But I have always said that I am in a good place where I am, I am not in a rush, I am developing as a coach, when the time is right and the right job comes it will be a great challenge.”