Finland meets Sweden in the World Cup on Wednesday evening. It will be a one-of-a-kind match for Lyon’s assistant coach Miko Maner, who is the head coach of Brienas in the SHL on a daily basis. He admits without hesitation that he cheers for Sweden because Finland does not play.
Mikko Maner was successful as the head coach of the Carpathians in the late 2010s. Under his leadership, Oulu FC won the gold and silver medals. On the other hand, his fourth and final season at Kärpät was less successful and the two parties opted to go their separate ways in the spring of 2021.
Manner was not unemployed for long. Brynäs, one of the classic Swedish ice hockey clubs, recruited him at the end of May last year.
But his first season in the SHL wasn’t dancing on roses. Prenas finished 10th in the regular season and were knocked out in the round of 16 in the playoffs.
Manner still maintains that the year gave him a massive amount.
– I think a lot about it when I rest after the season. I am grateful for the great support the team and I have received at Yavl. It feels special, Manner tells Yle Sporten.
Looking forward to next season
It’s easy to understand that Brynäs fans loved Mikko Manner. He displays himself and is not afraid to speak Swedish despite his pronounced Finnish accent. Rallysvenska calls it himself.
When he compares the way coaches are treated in Finland, he sees a clear difference.
Imagine if a Swedish coach led a team to ten in the Finnish league – it would lead to a storm of criticism. People will say: What is the Swedish coach doing here?
It was the opposite in Gavle.
Everyone was positive and encouraged me. I felt like I didn’t deserve all the credit. I’m a teacher for next season. I want to do well for all the people who have supported me.
Fourth in a row for the Lions on Wednesday?
If the season had not ended with the Brynäs as Manner had planned, things would have gone much better with the Lions at the Olympics in Beijing. When he returned to Sweden with a gold medal in his bags, many wanted to congratulate him.
– They were delighted with the Lions’ success and praised our interaction and harmony in the team. When Sweden isn’t playing, there are quite a few who cheer us on. The same is true for me. I live in Sweden and got to know a lot of nice people there, so it’s easy for me to support Sweden when we’re not playing.
But on Wednesday night, Mikko Maner didn’t have his Swedish friends in mind. He then stands in the Finland wing as an assistant coach when the Lions face Sweden.
Finland started the tournament with three wins in three matches.
– You’ll be happy. We even managed to win matches. The match against the United States was beneficial. There were great feelings and we managed to keep our cool.
Sweden’s balance is the same as Finland’s. Tre Kronor took his third win on Tuesday when he reached Great Britain 6-0.
– We will receive a receipt for what we stand now. In addition, we are hungry for revenge after losing our last two matches against Sweden.
At the same time, he assures that only the most important matches will come.
In terms of results, I think the match is more important for the fans than us. Of course, both teams want to win, but the fans really want to feel great joy after winning.
Miro Heskanen is on his way
No matter what happens between Finland and Sweden, the second half of the tournament remains. The Lions’ stock will be boosted this weekend when Dallas defender Miro Heskanen arrives.
Manner is confident Heiskanen will find himself in the disciplined gameplay that has become the trademark of Lion under Jukka Jalonen.
The best players in the world are also the ones who learn tactical details the fastest. This is one of the reasons why they reached the top. Miro has played in the Finnish junior national team, the World Cup and the 2018 Olympics. It would be no problem for Miro to adapt – he is a wise ice hockey player.
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