Relatively unknown in the women’s football community, BK Häcken’s Peter Gerhardsson was named as Pia Sundhage’s successor to take charge of the Swedish women's national team earlier this week.
Having spent the bulk (nine years) of his playing days at Hammarby IF, Gerhardsson will no doubt be familiar to the Bajen fans as well as those who follow Vasalunds IF where he made over 70 appearances for the Stockholm club but his name means precious little to those entrenched in women’s football. Having been in management since he hung up his boots in 1993 the former forward has tried his hand at a number of clubs over his career, having settled at Häcken seven years ago after four years assisting at Helsingborg and was even voted as the best manager in the Allsvenskan by Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet in 2013.
Gerhardsson is seen as a veritable breath of fresh air, the manager already with two years of experience training a women’s team behind him in Bälinge, the 57 year-old doesn’t see a distinction between the men’s and women’s sides. Whether with men or women, coaches have to be adaptive and work with their players, understanding their limitations and abilities, getting the best out of your best XI is a universal task over the genders.
Having announced he’s not even the best in the women’s game in his family – that distinction falls to his wife, Linda Blom, who’s played at Malmö, Djurgården and Bälinge although never been capped. Gerhardsson was quick to laugh it off and say that that’s something he’s aiming to change in time.
Can he replicate Sundhage's success?
“Tactically, there is no difference,” Gerhardsson said at the press conference following his announcement, again coming back to the individuals on the pitch. With a number of long-standing internationals set to retire from international duty in the coming years, Gerhardsson is already planning to talk to Calle Barrling – the U21 coach – when he takes over next year, already aware that there’s positive things happening for Sweden at the youth levels.
Not due to take over from Sundhage until her most recent deal runs out after Euro 2017, Gerhardsson is already looking forward to the challenge, reluctant to start planning things in too much detail until he’s had time with the squad and assessed the talent in the Swedish team.
His deal is set to run for four years from August 2017 until the end of the 2021 Euros.