It was an incredible atmosphere that day. Hammarby have a fantastic fan base and regularly get 25-30,000 in at the Tele2 Arena. It’s a brilliant occasion every time, but it’s also a notoriously difficult place to play.
The first half was good in some respects, but we went a goal down late on, and we could see that some elements weren’t going to improve if we left it as it was. So, I decided to change the shape of the team.
With the noise of the crowd, it was unbelievably difficult to communicate what you wanted to the players, so we had to use the half-time break well. I gave the players a couple of points to focus on, then asked members of my staff to deliver instructions to individual players.
Then, with around 30 minutes to play, we brought Curtis on. We ended up winning the match 2-1.
“There had been doubts about me – I really wanted to succeed and prove myself”
I think players enjoy a level of discipline and adhering to a team culture and values that come before everything else, so that episode with Curtis helped us set the tone for our time at Östersunds. We showed what the culture was going to be like.
Nobody was late on a matchday again, and Curtis was first at breakfast every single morning after that. He’s gone on to win the league with Djurgardens, so maybe it was just a little wake-up call that has helped him – and it certainly helped the team going forwards.
There had been a lot of doubts about me, about what kind of state Östersunds would be in when Graham left. After a pretty brutal time at Viking, with all manner of financial problems, I’d had a period out of the game – and I really wanted to show what I could do. I really wanted to succeed and prove myself. Having not had a playing career, I’d taken a long route to get to where I was.