After ten unbeaten games in charge, stand-in Aalborg BK boss Allan Kuhn admitted he will have a few pangs of regret when he hands the reins to Magnus Pehrsson, saying: "I have definitely got the taste for being coach."
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After ten unbeaten games in charge, stand-in Aalborg BK boss Allan Kuhn admitted he will have a few pangs of regret when he gives up the reins to trainer-elect Magnus Pehrsson, saying: "I have definitely got the taste for being coach."
AaB have only two games left to play this year, and at the moment their decision to promote Bruce Rioch's assistant Kuhn to the hot seat following the Scotsman's dismissal on 23 October is looking an inspired one. Under Kuhn, the club have contested six league games, two Danish Cup ties and two UEFA Champions League group stage matches without defeat.
They have also become the first Danish club to qualify for the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup since the competition's change of format. As a result, there was a fair degree of dissent earlier this week when AaB announced that, as planned, Kuhn would resume his old role as assistant, with 32-year-old former IK Sirius, Åtvidabergs FF and GAIS Göteborg trainer Pehrsson taking over on 1 January after signing a three-year contract.
AaB take on Randers FC in their last league outing of the year on Sunday and then visit Manchester United FC in their final UEFA Champions League game next week. Avoiding defeat in that first game looks possible, but with the fans chanting "We want Allan as coach" at every opportunity, people are even wondering whether the newcomer's golden touch can work at Old Trafford.
Kuhn's experience as a coach is limited, to say the least. His only previous solo command saw him take charge of fourth division FC Bornholm in 2003, before assisting first Erik Hamrén and then Rioch at AaB. The 40-year-old has nonetheless earned the players' trust, with defender Michael Jakobsen saying early during his spell in charge: "Now we stand together."
"The whole team has moved closer together under Kuhn," elaborated captain and midfielder Thomas Augustinussen. "Everyone is fighting together all the time now, and tactically I think we have been just as good as we were last season." That was in evidence as the Danish title-holders followed their 2-1 UEFA Champions League success against Celtic FC with a 3-1 league victory over FC København last weekend.
The latter game was generally agreed to be the club's best single performance of the season, and justified sporting director Lynge Jakobsen's claim that "Kuhn will grow with the challenge." That challenge will end at Old Trafford, and Kuhn admits that he may miss the limelight a little. "That was the deal we made from the start, but I have definitely got the taste for being coach," he said.
The club remain convinced they have appointed the right man in Pehrsson, however. "We're happy to have succeeded in signing one of Scandinavia's greatest coaching talents, and he has been chosen after thorough research, tests, references and several interviews," said Jakobsen. Pehrsson himself is also thrilled by the challenge awaiting him. "I'm looking forward to building on the fine foundations that the current coaching team and the players have already laid. I see AaB as a club with great potential."