The Pilatus is one of Switzerland’s most iconic landmarks; a near 7,000 foot-tall mountain in Lucerne which overlooks central Switzerland. However, for us at SC Kriens, it represented something symbolic also. That mountain represented the challenge we laid out for ourselves – and we conquered our mountain; forcefully, convincingly and with a lot of heart.
Following a run of nine wins in a row and consistently being at the summit of the Promotion League throughout the season, we fully deserved our triumph. To get to the peak, I took great pride in watching my team grow together during a time that saw us take on so many different challenges. We faced three defeats in four games at the start of 2018, slipping away from the league’s top position. It was a period when I knew I had to adjust things quickly in order to get my team back on track – and I did so.
Fail To Prepare and Prepare to Fail
My focus was on the mental side of the game; regaining essential strength and energy within the space of a few days. I did this by changing my role as a coach. I became an observer and, in doing so, allowed my players space to breathe. Naturally, we looked at certain elements in our game which hadn’t been working, but the main focus was on ourselves and our concentration.
We had to strengthen each individual ego, whilst ensuring that individuals knew their team-mate was ready for the challenge ahead. In doing so, we created a new cohesion within the squad.
It was that cohesion that carried us to the top of our mountain.
Every player had committed himself to being ready, no matter what. Whatever a players’ position within the squad… if one player went out, the next one stepped straight in. No hesitation, no questions.
Keeping that readiness alive for the whole squad is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had as a manager – and as a result it was marvellous to see that my methods worked come the final game of the season.
One week after sealing promotion to the Challenge League, we played FC Stade Lausanne Ouchy; the Promotion League’s fifth-place team. I made eight changes to the starting line-up, including my second-choice goalkeeper who is 19-years-old.
At half-time, we led 4-0 and won the game come the final whistle 6-1. I was so impressed with how everybody simply gave their best and showed real commitment.
Commitment to keep going until the last one of us had reached the peak of our mountain.