(Image Credits: IFK Göteborg)

Swedish coach Mikael Stahre has been appointed as the successor to Ivan Vukomanovic at Kerala Blasters FC. Vukomanovic led the Blasters to significant success, guiding them to the Indian Super League (ISL) playoffs for three consecutive seasons, including a runners-up finish in the 2021-22 season.

Despite raising the club's performance to new heights, Vukomanovic couldn't secure the elusive trophy. Now, Kerala Blasters FC will be looking forward to their new coach, who will be the first Swede to manage a club in the ISL. Stahre is expected to build on the momentum already established and finish the unfinished business – securing the club’s first silverware.

Also Read: Ivan Vukomanovic, a Kerala Blasters FC great

With an impressive track record throughout his extensive managerial career, Stahre is well-equipped to take on this challenge and uphold the legacy left by Vukomanovic.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new Kerala Blasters FC coach.

Who is Mikael Stahre?

A native of Stockholm, Stahre brings a wealth of managerial experience spanning over two decades. Kerala Blasters FC marks his tenth club as a first-team head coach. Following the conclusion of his playing career, which was cut short by injury, the Swede transitioned into coaching at the tender age of 14.

Managerial Career

Stahre embarked on his coaching journey with youth teams, serving clubs like Gröndals IK, Hammarby IF, and AIK between 1994 and 2005. His success at AIK's youth side in 2004 paved the way for his role as the first-team assistant coach in 2006.

Subsequently, he ventured to Vasby United, a third-tier Swedish side, where he secured his first head coach position and achieved promotion to the second tier. Returning to AIK in 2009, this time as head coach, Stahre made significant strides. In a brief yet impactful one-and-a-half-year tenure, he guided AIK to a League and Cup double in 2009 at the age of just 34, alongside winning the Swedish Super Cup in the following season.

His coaching prowess then took him to Panionios Athens in Greece, before he made a homecoming to Sweden with IFK Goteborg in 2012. At IFK Goteborg, his leadership yielded consistent progress over three years, marked by winning the Swedish Cup in his debut season and commendable league finishes - seventh, third, and second between 2012 and 2014.

Since then, he has travelled around the globe, His stints have taken him to China, the USA, Sweden, Norway, and Thailand – where he had his last assignment before joining the ISL side.

What style of football does Mikael Stahre play?

Stahre is renowned for his possession-oriented approach to football, often prioritizing building up play from the back. While he typically favours the 4-4-2 formation with a double pivot, he's also been flexible, occasionally deploying the 3-4-3 and 4-3-3 setups. Players like Jeakson Singh and Vibin Mohanan are well-suited to the double pivot role, complemented by promising talents like Mohammed Azhar and Freddy Lallawmawma.

He emphasizes the importance of central midfielders dictating play before feeding the attacking midfielders, a strategy aimed at progressive ball movement.

Notably, Stahre's teams are characterized by defensive resilience, a trait that has been pivotal to his past successes. Under his stewardship, defensive improvements have been evident, a trend expected to continue at KBFC under his management.

During his tenure with AIK, his league-winning side in 2009 conceded just 20 goals in 30 games, a remarkable achievement that still stands as a highlight in his managerial career.

Emphasis on Youth Development

Throughout his career, the Swedish coach has consistently placed trust in young players – a philosophy that closely aligns with that of Kerala Blasters FC. Starting his managerial journey at a young age, Stahre spent over 15 years working with youth setups before transitioning to first-team roles, where he has successfully integrated promising young talents into the squad. The Blasters have also shown a commitment to nurturing youth, evident in their recent emphasis on promoting players from their reserve side.

Also Read: Youngsters emerge as silver lining in a tough season for Kerala Blasters FC

While transitioning to a new league presents a challenge for Stahre as a newcomer, his reputation precedes him, offering hope to Blasters' fans for brighter days ahead.