Well that was strange. Eight rounds in and the Tippeliga still doesn’t make much sense, but even in that context Vålerenga inflicting a 6-1 smackdown on Odd was a bit of a bolt from the blue. Also, reluctant and grudge-laden credit where it’s due: Brann were really quite good..
They were, honestly. Ronny Deila’s young guns Strømsgodset have impressed all and sundry with their early season form, but here their inexperience showed and they had no answer to the pace and trickery of Brann‘s attacking duo Erik Huseklepp and Diego Gustavino. Boosted by the absence of their captain Eirik Bakke, Brann looked altogether more coherent than in recent weeks and picked up a much deserved 4-0 win. Godset on the other hand showed poor form both on and off the pitch, playing badly and then making fairly immature comments to the press after the game. “It’s embarrassing to lose 4-0, it shouldn’t be possible,” Udinese-reject Jo Inge Berget told TV2, adding that “on artificial turf we can play football. Here it’s not possible to play football, we just have to hit it long and hope the ball deflects off a divot and goes in”. It’s probably that kind of never-say-die, win-at-all-costs, strength in the face of adversity-attitude that kept Berget safely away from first-team action in Italy.
There were ugly scenes at Ullevaal, very ugly, and we’re not just talking about Peter Kovacs’ face. “We’re embarrassed,” said Dag-Eilev Fagermo, “we stand with our finger far up our.. yes,” said Morten Fevang, and thankfully it still doesn’t have anything to do with Peter Kovacs, but rather the fact that Odd were thoroughly violated by Vålerenga to the tune of 6-1. The hosts, who only last weekend rolled over against a fairly poor Brann-side, looked absolutely superb throughout and at times cut through Odd as if they weren’t even there. Which is curious, because the last year or so Odd have looked consistently like a side that, while limited, isn’t at all prone to thrashings. Vålerenga-manager Martin Andresen was rightly pleased and reserved special praise for the lively Mohamed Fellah and the dynamic Kristofer Hæstad. “We depend on them to maintain aggressive pressure,” he said, confusing the attending journalists by actually talking football rather than spewing out platitudes like managers are expected to do these days. He also showed class by dismissing talk of a title challenge on the back of this one superb performance. Good man.
It’s hard to say which is more surprising, that Tromsø are top of the table or that they managed to score a full three goals in one game. Yes, the defensive dullards from the North notched up a whopping 3-2 win away to Molde, who we all though had started to sort themselves out at last. “In the second half we stopped playing football,” noted Molde’s metrosexual midfield maestro Magne Hoseth, who did his bit by dragging the score back to 2-2 with a superb long-range effort only to see Tromsø grab all three points through a late set-piece. His manager, Kjell Jonevret, was unimpressed: “We score in every game, but we have to stop conceding all these goals!”. He has a point, 16 goals conceded in eight games equates to two in every game, which of course is far too many.
A team that isn’t leaking goals is Henning Berg’s Lillestrøm, who after drawing 0-0 with Rosenborg have conceded just four times in the first eight games. That superb defensive record is offset however by the fact that they’ve only scored nine, seven of which came against hapless Hønefoss. That this game ended goalless was a bit of a miracle though, both teams had a bunch of chances but displayed a lack of ability in front of goal that was almost Mame Niang-esque.
Hønefoss lost again, but maybe not by the numbers expected. Start-manager Knut Tørum inflicted a surprising handicap on his own team by starting Jesper son-of-the-sporting-director Mathisen up front, and Start needed a deflected shot from right-back Hunter Freeman and an own goal from Paul Obifule to hobble past bottom of the table-Hønefoss. In spite of losing 2-0 Hønefoss looked marginally less terrible than earlier in the season and when asked if he wanted interim manager Tom Guldbransen to continue, Hønefoss-captain Frode Lafton responded with a wildly enthusiastic “Sure, why not?”. Onwards and upwards.
Kongsvinger also lost again. We’re starting to see a pattern here. Only they were playing fellow promotees Haugesund, a side they theoretically should be able to hold their own against. They didn’t, in fact they were “totally f*cked in the ass” according to midfielder Roger Risholdt, which of course is one way of describing the 3-0 beating they received. Some good news are on the way for Kongsvinger-fans though, according to TV2 they have found themselves a manager: After Knut Torbjørn Eggen and Mons Ivar Mjelde both said no they’ve managed to get a yes from former Hammarby-manager Tony Gustavsson.
In Stavanger, Viking‘s plucky midfield trier Andre Danielsen scored his annual inexplicable long-range thumper into the top corner, and there was much rejoicing. The 2-0 win means Viking sit solidly in that category of teams that should be doing a whole lot better but aren’t quite bad enough to send fans and media into full-blown crisis-mode, a category they share with vanquished opponents Stabæk, as well as Brann, Odd Grenland and Molde.
Finally, it was a typical away-performance from Kjetil Rekdal’s Aalesund: Nothing much happened, and what did happen mostly involved the ball hitting Tor Hogne Aarøy on the head. One of those balls dropped to Diego Silva, and the Brazillian scored the only goal of the game. Alarm bells are a’ringing in Sandefjord.