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Henrik Jensen On Managing Kalmar FF, FC Midtjylland And Learning From David Moyes

Henrik Jensen On Managing Kalmar FF, FC Midtjylland And Learning From David Moyes

An interview with Kalmar FF head coach Henrik Jensen, by Callum McFadden for WFi.

You have just taken over as manager of Allsvenskan side Kalmar FF. What are your ambitions for the club ahead of the new season?

“I am really looking forward to helping drive Kalmar forward as a club. Having the opportunity in the Swedish top flight is a great opportunity for me as a coach and I cannot wait to get started.

“I want to do all that I can to take the club in the right direction and build a team that the fans can be proud of.

“This is the right time to take on such a role as becoming a manager at first team level is the logical next step for my coaching career.”

How would you describe your coaching style?

“I am a coach that likes to play dynamic football in a controlled fashion.

“I want my teams to keep the ball and use it to control the game. Transitions are also an important aspect of the modern game so I work hard to ensure that my teams are proactive in transitional moments too.

“I want my players to have an attacking mindset and I aim to set up my teams in a way that allows them to express as much as possible within our team structure.”

Which coaches from world football would you say inspire your own work?

“I had the pleasure of spending time with West Ham United manager David Moyes in the latter stages of 2022.

“He was so kind with his time to talk me through his way of working and learn more about me and my career.

“Maurizio Sarri is another coach that I admire due to his style of play and I have followed his career closely as a result.

“Pep Guardiola is another coach who inspires me and many coaches around the world as does former Danish national team coach Morten Olsen.

“I would select those coaches as inspirations of mine.”

The Allsvenskan has top teams such as Malmö and AIK within it. How much are you looking forward to taking them on?

“It is undoubtedly a strong league with many strong teams as you have said.

“It is also very competitive with many teams striving to win the title or competing for European places.

“I believe that we have built a strong team and although there are seven or eight teams with bigger budgets than us, I believe that we can compete against every team in the league.

“We have strong belief in ourselves as a team and as a club.”

You worked at FC Midtjylland for five years in a variety of roles from youth team coach to assistant manager and laterally, caretaker manager. How much did you learn from your time at the club?

“I learned a lot from my team at the club. As a youth team coach, I learned a lot about nurturing talented young footballers.

“I also experienced what it was like to compete at the highest level in Denmark in the Danish Superliga and also how to compete in European competitions such as the Europa League and Champions League qualification rounds.

“High pressing was an integral part of the identity of FC Midtjylland. That enabled me to develop myself as a coach in this area which was a key learning experience for me.

“I enjoyed working with the young players at the club as well as the first-team players.

“The main difference between coaching at youth team level and first team level is the exposure that is on you.

“At youth team level, you can work in the background as can your players whereas, at first team level, all eyes from fans, media and even rivals are on you.

“There is an expectation to succeed and pressure because you have to succeed or you know that your position will come under threat such as the nature of football.

“It is a results business at first team level.”

You were assistant manager to Bo Henriksen during his time at the club. What did you learn from him during your time together?

“Bo was fantastic. He was amazing to work with and he trusted me with a lot of responsibility as a coach.

“His man-management was excellent and he lead by example. He earned the respect of the team with his character and his determination to win.”

You took caretaker charge of FC Midtjylland when Bo left the club and managed in the Champions League against Benfica. What is it like to be a caretaker manager? 

“I was the coach for six games and two of those were Champions League qualifiers as you mention.

“The experience was a great learning opportunity for me in my coaching journey.

“Being a caretaker manager is all about getting the best out of the group at your disposal for a short-term period. Nothing more. Nothing less.

“I was fortunate to have a strong team at the club which meant the experience felt natural especially as I had worked with the players previously.”

Finally, Henrik, what do you hope to achieve in the future as you progress and develop as a manager? 

“I hope to be the best manager that I can be so that I may work at the highest level of football one day.

“My experience of managing in the Champions League albeit as a caretaker manager has made me want to experience that level of football again as a manager one day.

“Being a manager in the Champions League is my ultimate goal.”