Adrian Costello says his experiences during his time as Garforth Town manager have helped him put Swedish outfit Ytterhogdal IK on the brink of promotion.
Costello is held in such high regard in East Leeds by fans, directors and former players for saving Garforth from the oblivion of relegation to Division One of the Toolstation NCEL four years ago.
He has since gone onto be a major success on foreign soil – the latest chapter of a very wide-ranging coaching career. With a win ratio of 75%, Ytterhogdal have finished second in their Division of the Swedish Fourth Tier and have now entered a mini group of two other teams where the winners will play the side who finished fourth bottom in the league above.
Costello inherited a decimated squad when he took over at Garforth in November 2015 and he says there are similarities with how he had to manage the Miners and how he runs his Ytterhogdal team.
“It is no secret that I took over at Garforth at a very difficult time in its history,” Costello told Non League Yorkshire.
“I had to persuade players that were left to play for me, recruit other players on a limited budget. We had a small squad of players and I had to learn quick how to keep them happy as I couldn’t keep losing and recruiting players as this would have been counter productive when trying to avoid relegation.
“Now I have a reasonable budget for this level of football, but I have to recruit players mainly from the UK to come and play. To do this I can only afford to sign a limited amount and as such I have as small squad. Even though the players are full time I still need to ensure that they are happy. To lose players and try to recruit others again would be counter productive as this time we were competing for promotion.
“I also learnt at Garforth how important it is to have staff around you that compliment the way I want to play the game. Rob Hunter was a great and loyal support to me and I was pleased when he took over from me. This season I have ensured I have surrounded myself with good staff that compliment the way we want to play.”
Rob Hunter replaced Costello as Garforth’s manager when the Ytterhogdal boss went off to work for the Football Association.
Hunter finished the rebuilt that Costello started and after leaving the role last week has left the club on a very solid platform for new manager Paul Marshall, who Costello once got out of bed to sign a player, to build on.
“I think Rob did a good job stabilising the club further and I’m sad to see him leave as I thought that his squad for this season was a strong one,” Costello said.
“Rob will get another job in football if he wants as his knowledge and experience of local Non League Football is fantastic.
“Getting Marshy as your new manager is massive. He certainly knows what it takes to get promoted and he even got into the FA Cup second round proper.
“Paul will be great for Garforth and (chairman) Brian (Close) and (director) Craig (Bannister) have got themselves a good manager with vast amount of experience and contacts within the game.
“His name alone will attract players to Garforth and I wish him all them the very best. Our season ends next month and I will be returning home and I’m looking forward to taking in a Garforth home fixture.”
Ytterhogdal came close to winning promotion last year. With a team made up of almost entirely UK players, including former Thackley player Somaili Cissa, Costello’s men have almost unstoppable.
“I think they would make me mayor if we won promotion,” he quipped.
“Yes we were close last season, finishing 3rd. This season we have won more games, conceded fewer goals whilst scoring considerably more goals. We have ten more points than last season and have finished 2nd.
“In the whole season we have lost only five league games and since June have only lost one game. In addition we have won our cup competition which gives us direct entry into the Swedish FA Cup first round proper next season.
“We have been relentless as you say, and the fact we have built on the good foundations has been the most important thing.
“Promotion would mean a lot for the club. Last year I explained that we were a tiny village of 600 people with no major towns for at least two hours away in all directions.
“Winning promotion would be huge, but regardless it has been some achievement this year already. Cup winners, second in the league with a 75% win ratio. I consider that a huge achievement and promotion would cap off a great two years I have had here at Ytterhogdal IK and in Sweden.”
Regardless of winning promotion or not, Costello is planning to stay out in Sweden for a third year and is already thinking about his squad.
“As things stand at this moment in time I will be in Sweden for the 2020 season,” he said.
“I obviously will at some stage want a return to the UK to coach or manage.
“In terms of Ytterhogdal, if, and it is a big if, we get promoted we would then need to have 50% of our match day squad being Swedish.
“Currently I have three Swedish players on the books, the rest are from mainly the UK. This in itself will be a hurdle, but not one we can’t overcome.
“It will just mean more work for the head of recruitment and the rest of the staff.”