Reid relishing Swans challenge
Billy Reid was part of Ostersund’s remarkable rise and he watched from afar as Swansea City did something similar on these shores.
Having returned home to Britain as part of Graham Potter’s new-look management team at the Liberty, the experienced Reid hopes to be part of another success story.
Reid is the Swans’ assistant manager under Potter having previously worked in the same role at Ostersund.
But he also knows what it is like to be the man at the top.
Reid’s first taste of management came in a caretaker role 16 years ago at Clyde.
He spent 2004-05 as Clyde’s permanent boss, then joined Hamilton Academical for what proved a successful seven-year spell in charge.
“I brought a young Hamilton side down to the Liberty to play against Swansea,” Reid recalls.
“I was in charge of the first team and the youth, so I brought the kids down to play.
“Robbie (Martinez) came in to the changing room to see me before the game and asked if Garry Monk could play as he was coming back from injury.
“I said no problem. Garry dominated the game and was fantastic.
“There was a young Joe Allen in that Swansea team too, while we had James McArthur and James McCarthy playing. It was some youth game.”
Reid’s good work at Hamilton did not go unnoticed elsewhere.
At one stage, in fact, the Scot emerged as a contender to become Swans manager.
“I believe Huw Jenkins spoke to the (Hamilton) chairman, Roy McDonald, but that was as far as it went,” Reid says.
He would eventually leave Hamilton in April 2013. Seven months later, Reid joined up with Potter, a friend of his former No. 2 at Hamilton, Graeme Jones.
There began a fruitful working relationship which the Swans hope will benefit them in the upcoming Championship season.
“At 50 years old I ended up in Ostersund working under Graham Potter in northern Sweden,” Reid says.
“I certainly didn’t expect that, but I had four-and-a-half years there and it was fantastic.
“It was a completely different experience for me at that age – the culture, the language and the fact the people are quite laid back and calm. I had to be aware of how I spoke to the players and treated them.
“The football was completely different compared to Scotland. From fast and furious football to a more technical and slower game in Sweden – I had to adapt.
“Being in the Europa League last season was a fantastic experience and a new challenge too. It was certainly a learning experience.”
Ostersund put various rivals’ noses out of joint in Europe last season having secured continental football by winning the Swedish Cup.
Their run ended when they came up against Arsenal, despite the fact that Potter’s team won the second leg of the Gunners tie at the Emirates.
Every European game was a big event for Ostersund given that they were playing in front of crowds of a few hundred in the Swedish fourth tier only seven years ago.
The parallels between what happened at Ostersund and the Swans’ climb through the divisions are not lost on Reid.
“It’s funny how the stories of Swansea and Ostersund are quite similar,” he adds.
“Swansea came from the bottom tier all the way to the top playing some fantastic football. There was also the cup win and a Europa League adventure.
“Ostersund was exactly the same. The rise, the style, the success.”
The triumphs Reid and Potter enjoyed in Sweden were not the result of big spending.
Far from it, in fact.
“Almost every player we bought – except one – came from the lower leagues,” Reid points out.
“These were players who may have been at the top clubs when they were young lads, but then dropped down the ladder.”
Somehow, Ostersund took those players who had been considered not good enough elsewhere and turned them into a formidable team.
One of the things they did differently was away from football, with players and staff encouraged to perform on the stage as well as the pitch.
“It was a culture club!” Reid says.
“It was about taking people out of their comfort zone and pushing them. Singing in front of 2,000 people was not something I was used to, but it was great.
“We did various shows and workshops throughout the season, which was great for team-bonding. It worked at Ostersund, but it’s not for every team.
“I know there is an initiation at Swansea where you have to sing in front of the staff and players, but that will be no problem to me!”