As the battle for the may-be-important fourth place rages on, the mainstream media still prove to be a bunch of clueless cowards, preferring to seek out pretend drama that may or may not become real at some point in the future. NFN will thus be the only provider of the real drama RIGHT NOW, and we’ll start by once again puttin up the part of the league table that really matters:
4 Aalesund 39
5 Odd Grenland 38
6 Strømsgodset 37
7 Start 35
8 Haugesund 35
9 Viking 34
10 Lillestrøm 33
11 Stabæk 33
As you can see, seven teams are still within reach of that glorious fourth place. When will the excitement stop?!?! Answer: On the 7th of November. Until then, let’s review how we got to this amazing stand-off
Saturday 25th of September:
Molde has had their ups and downs the last couple of years, but they’ve finally found back to their success formula (for certain values of “success”): Play nice, entertaining football, but don’t actually score many, if any goals. This formula is what Molde’s really been about for most of the last decade, and it’s good to see them do what they do best. Meanwhile, Lillestrøm are being determined to stand out in any manner possible this season. They did did gain a lead on Molde at Åråsen, but then decided that “OK, we’ll be the team with most draws” (by far the least prestigious football award, but hey, what else can they possibly shoot for at this point), and allowed Molde to score an equaliser for 1-1. Either that, or they just felt sorry for Molde trying and trying and trying without quite getting there.
Sunday 26th of September
Odd Grenland seems to be achieving the one thing they’ve pretty much never ever had before in the Tippeliga: To have a very good fall season. OK, so their opponents haven’t exactly been the biggest threats (I mean, Stabæk? Come on.), but three victories in a row is still good. Even stranger is how they’re doing this without Peter Kovacs, or buying anyone to replace him. It seemed an impossible task, since Kovacs was pretty much the only real striker they had. Or so it appeared.
But then again, Odd Grenland had been hiding this 18-year old kid on the roster named Torgeir Børven, who were just itching to make an impact. Against Sandefjord, he did. In fact, he made four impacts (including a really great run that ended with a nice and arrogant chip over the keeper, and one perfectly executed penalty), to be precise. Combined with how he’s scored in three league matches in a row now, and you understand that we’ve got an exciting new striker in the Tippeliga. Fredrik Semb Berge added a fifth and final goal to make it 5-0, probably just to show Tromsø that Odd can also score five against poor, doomed Sandefjord. Right now, the only excitement about meeting Sandefjord is whether or not there will be any team that botches the job and gets any less than three points. Former wonder coach Patrick Walkers summed it up by saying “we’re doing fundamental mistakes”, such as believing it would be a good idea to let Espen Bugge Pettersen go before acquiring at least one competent defender for the roster.
To be fair to Walker, he also earned the “best response to silly question” award this week, because while it’s fun to mention that Sandefjord now hasn’t won in 23 games, it’s a bit mean to point this out to him (NFN practises the gentler style of “being mean to people we know don’t read this blog). But he rallied quickly, and responded thusly: “You can’t really think about that, because then you might as well roll up and die.” So very, very true words, Walker…
Strømsgodset’s Ola Kamara wins the “Most honest response” award of the week. After scoring a goal and being a general threat against Rosenborg, he was basically being pulled down on the edge of the 16-meter line in the 89th minute. Then after the game, instead of moaning about not getting the penalty, Kamara shrugged it off by noting that the defender was pulling him in a very experienced manner, letting go just soon enough that the ref probably would have to make it a free kick. And was he holding a grudge about being held like that? “No, I’d have done the exact same thing.” Kudos for admitting what we know all players would do anyway.
Oh, and Strømsgodset played a good game and probably should have won, but neither Kamara, Nordkvelle, nor Keita managed to score more than that one goal, and since RBK’s Steffen Iversen seems to have forgotten just how old he is this season – he’s scored 13 goals, and may yet win the title of top scorer – that meant RBK once again avoided a loss in the Tippeliga, with 1-1. For some reason, RBK not losing matches -at all- spells disaster in the world of Norwegian football, as does the fact that they are “only” five points ahead of Vålerengen. How this can be construed to make an “exciting” finishing in the series is a little beyond me, but hey, if Vålerengen actually beats RBK, on Lerkendal, next Sunday, then maybe we’ll be talking. Until then, NFN is still more commited to whether Brann will end up playing qualifiers for the next season.
And what do you know, Brann did play against Vålerengen, making this paragraph the smoothest segue since the entire NFN writer staff were being oiled up on a beach in Bahamas (hey, what did you think we were doing during the offseason?). Fun fact: Brann had the opportunity to buy Torgeir Børven, but declined. Since their current main man on top is slow slugger Eirik Bakke, they have to feel a bit silly about that. I mean, when you’re a striker, your main job is to run fast into position, and kick/head the ball in the general direction of the goal. Since running fast and kicking the ball instead of the player goes against every instinct in Bakke’s body, he is naturally rather unsuccessful. So Brann’s only viable strategy is to pass the ball to Erik Huseklepp, tell him “you’re on your own now, buddy”, and hope he’ll run faster than the defenders and chip in the goal. Since he missed, and since Vålerengen did score, that meant another victory for Martin Andresen’s currently very merry men. Or to put it another way: They have never been more succesful under Andresen’s management, than after he stopped playing.
Despite – or perhaps because of – his hilarious antics, let’s not forget that Kjetil Rekdal is worshipped in Aalesund because he is in fact a very good coach. For example, before their match against Haugesund, he warned against Djurdic and Sørum. That seems rather obvious, but considering Haugesund’s position on the table, it’s pretty clear that quite a few teams didn’t think that it would be a good idea to keep those in check if they wanted to win the game. And almost as if by magic, it turned out that by stopping those two, it helped Aalesund dominating the game. In addition to this, Tor Hogne Aarøy seems to be back on the scoring track (ten goals total now). But Rekdal still wasn’t happy for two reasons. First of all, Haugesund’s Djurdic scored a goal that can only be described as “two defenders doing some cartoonish parody of defending as they got in each other’s way and passed the ball to Djurdic. Secondly, they should’ve won it with a much bigger margin than the final result 2-1. Nevertheless, when he takes a look at the league table tonight, we’re certain the man with a thousand words of anger will almost smile.
While this NFN writer does try to keep a slightly different style from previous Tippeliga writer Lars Sivertsen, there is one thing we have in common: Bash a player seriously enough, and BAM, he performs much better the very next match. Jon Knudsen on Stabæk was the one who basically told the NFN to get off his back, by saving a penalty shot for Stabæk, thus being crucial in their 2-1 away victory against Kongsvinger. But the fact that Kongsvinger was actually a threat at all to Stabæk means they’re still far from being in top shape. Kongsvinger on the other hand, was mostly pissed about having their coach tony Gustavson sent up on the stands after stepping two steps outside the allowed area for coaches to scream out from. And he wasn’t even screaming at the referee or something, just trying to get the attention of his team captain. Now it looks like his aftermatch reactions to that might get him suspended.
Several dozen of the NFN staff members was worried about the Tromsø – Viking match. Considering Viking has actually started to score goals (yeah, that plural is correct), and considering Tromsø managed to make five goals last match (mind you, it was against Sandefjord, so it probably doesn’t count), there were dark rumours about how this could end up. Could it become the most-scoring match of this round? A match filled to the brims with great entertainment? If so, such an earth-shatteringly illogical event would probably start off the Fimbul Winter, which will then lead to Ragnarok.
Turns out we’re still safe. Rune Almenning Jarstein was currently in an up period (meaning he didn’t do anything batshit insane), Viking once again emplyed strikers that mostly seemed determined to strike for not being paid ever more obscene amounts of money. and Tromsø, while admittedly creating a fair amount of chances, once again seemed to lack offensive efficiency. A penalty shot was what they needed to win their oh-so-classic 1-0 on Alfheim. Yeah, you’ve heard that one before, haven’t you? Anyway, now that Viking and Tromsø are back on track, they can safely be ignored for the rest of the season.
Hønefoss welcomed Start to a game both teams wanted and needed to win, and interestingly enough, both teams really tried to win. Both teams played rather similar too: Both teams had questionable passes on their own half, giving the other team some unnecessary chances. Both teams had several offensive weapons, and even NFN’s cynical heart has to admit that Ole Martin Årst’s comeback has turned out to be the best one since this son of a carpenter from Nazareth managed to pull the biggest practical joke on the world. Both teams also were also somewhat inefficient, and both teams also had really good keepers, meaning that we ended up with one of the most entertaining 0-0 matches this season. Start’s Kenneth Høie can be especially proud of what he did between the bars, in a game whose biggest letdown was in not providing NFN with anything particularly silly. Way to ruin our fun by playing a fun match, boys.