What the hell? Is the unjustified and unreseached opinions on the Tippeliga back on NFN? So nobody’s died? Was it just an incredibly lazy writer? Pretty much yes. There were no rumors of my death, but if there had been, they would have been exaggerated. Also, in my defense, my real job’s been taking up a lot of time, including working the last 14 of the 15 days in August. But, you’re not interested in one man’s pathetic excuses, you’re interested in his pathetic commentaries and predictions!
But first, since the Tippeliga itself had a vacation, we’d like to remember the reason for this vacation: The World Cup in South Africa. And we were all so very happy to see the international standards of football, so very unlike our own standards. For instance, the grace and behavior of France’s players against their coach really put the Brann players to shame, didn’t it? And what about Suarez, who surely could’ve given Kovacs a few lessons in fair play. And from Holland, Nigel de Jong showed Eirik Bakke and Vidar Riseth how you take the ball from your opponent in a nice and non-damaging manner. Yessir, the world cup couldn’t be more different from our own league, especially the way England and Italy won our hearts by putting their heart into the game and producing magnificent football, the likes of which has only been matched in our own league by Molde.
Another thing that’s happened in this period is that Lyn finally went officially bankrupt; much to the chagrin of Norwegian radio icon Finn Bjelke, and just about nobody else. Starting all over in the 6thdivision, Lyn will now be the final resting spot for washed-out have-beens the next few years. Except that they may actually end up in 2nd Division next year, because apparently, if a club going bankrupt pays off all its creditors when going belly-up, they will only be relegated one division. Whether or not this particuarly obscure clause will come into play, we wish them luck, and are sure that in just a few years, they will return in full form as the second most obscure Oslo-based team. In the meantime, we’ll have to do as best we can with Sandefjord as the current “the little team with talents, and just about nothing else” team to follow.
Now, to some of the Tippeliga highlights since last time:
Molde (14th) has, as just mentioned, had a tendency to play with the morale of a three-legged puppy thrown into a backyard full of rotweilers. As a result, they are currently – and I predict they will be so when the season’s over – the only team in the Tippeliga that hasn’t managed to defeat Sandefjord at least once in two attemps; and they’ve also played ten games in a row without victory. They also thought that England’s and Italy’s strategy of letting the opponent score at least two goals before attempting to actually play football was a marvelous idea. Stabæk couldn’t agree more, because when you get to score four goals, it usually doesn’t matter that much if your opponent will spend the last 15 minutes finally remembering what they’re being paid to do.
A more positive surprise – and we can sure use some of those – are Hønefoss (13th). They are absolutely determined to fight their way into staying another year in the Tippeliga, and considering everyone, this writer included, predicted them to be dead last with no hope whatsoever, it’s well done that they are holding the crucial 14th place with some nice margin down to Kongsvinger. They’ve done this by stealing points from Tromsø, Lillestrøm, Odd Grenland, and Vålerengen. Even if they do end up 13th, that’s still one good underdog story.
An even more positive surprise is Haugesund (8th), who have been doing some neat things this season, showing that they certainly belong in the Tippeliga. Their 4-0 victory against Viking was particularly impressive, though they’ve had some downs too, such as making a mediocre draw against bottom feeder Brann.
The final positive surprise – much to former NFN writer Lars Sivertsen’s immense joy – isStrømsgodset (4th). Not only are they vying for medals by managing to combine properly experienced players with the right amount of hungry kids, they’re also in the semifinals in the cup. And best part is that they’re doing this by playing offensive, happy football! Speaking of hungry kids, if you never saw their game against Stabæk (9th) on Telenor arena, then you missed out one of the most impressive Tippeliga debuts ever. Third-keeper Lars Stubhaug of 20 years was thrown in because of injuries, and he made such a spectacularly good performance, Stabæk’s head honcho Jens Ingebritsen felt that he needed to take away some of that spotlight by making a spectacular fool out of himself. Seriously, Jens, can’t you just let us focus on the good stuff sometimes? Just for that, I won’t mention what else your team has been up to since last post.
Unsurprisingly, Start (7th) embodies this season as the team you can’t possibly predict what will do next. And considering how silly this seasons has been in general, that’s no small feat to pull off. They are so very vulnerable whenever someone figures out how to pass Goodson, their one and only defender worth a damn, but they are also having an attacking squad that can play with the best. What I mean by this? Well, when Vålerengen figured out the trick (presumably, it involved putting more than one attacker up there, so that Goodson could only cover one at a time), they were mercilessly crushed 8-1 on Ullevaal. Thankfully, in their next game they were meeting bottomfeeders Brann, and restored morale with a nice 3-1 victory. They’ve also now lost Christian Bolanos to FC København, though since his skills with the ball is only matched by his lack of skills with words, he will only really be missed by the hair stylists in Kristiansand.
Odd Grenland (10th) is another of those teams that seems inherently unpredictable, but fact is, you can rely on them somehow. If they’ve got a 7-7-6 record, you can be sure they will lose their next match, just to make it look fully symmetrical. So if your favourite team is meeting them while they are one win behind, better brace yourself for disappointment. And that, apart from selling Kovacs, is the main thing about Odd so far.
As much as we are loathing it, we have to admit that Vålerengen (2nd) can be somewhat entertaining, what with their habit of winning with a lot of goals. But they too lack coherence, because right after giving Start a sound 8-1 trashing, they then managed to lose 1-0 againstAalesund.
Let me put it this way for emphasis: Vålerengen has currently the best offense in the Tippeliga. And Aalesund has never, ever been close to having the best defense. So one has to wonder what’s going through the minds of Andresen’s boys at times. But still, they’re a serious contender for the silver medals this year, and as long as Martin Andresen keeps his mouth shut, we’ll begrudgingly concede that they probably deserve it, from a truly neutral point of view.
Lillestrøm (11th) had a decent start of the season, but then felt determined that they should be able to match Molde’s tendencies of avoiding a win, probably because that would be the only way anyone would pay attention to them sans their matches against ‘Engen. Unfortunately for them, they got a victory against Aalesund, which means there is absolutely nothing interesting about them at all this season.
Aalesund (6th) on the other hand, is wackier than a over-caffeinated 12-year old with a hammer and a dead frog in his vicinity. But you already knew that, didn’t you? So I’ll just say that Rekdal will probably lead this team to their best spot ever, and his status in the town in Sunn-Møre will probably be above that of Jesus. And in Sunn-Møre, people are quite religious…
I have no idea how it happened, but somehow Viking (5th) finally got a brilliant idea: That it can be a good idea to score more than one goal per game. This stunning display of innovation sent shockwaves all through Stavanger, and I’m sure several opponents lost their matches because they were too busy dropping their jaws at this marvellous concept. Though once everyone realised what was happening, the opponents started retaliating by also scoring several goals, to at least make it a draw. If this trend continues, then maybe…. Just maybe… Viking could actually be known as an entertaining team!!
If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t been speaking of Brann (12th) yet, it’s just because I wanted to savour the moment of referring to them, once again, as bottomfeeders. But as much as I like to make fun of them, there’s really nothing I can say that is funnier than watching them still taking themselves so damn seriously.
And finally, Rosenborg is winning the league. Big surprise there. So the only thing to mention here is one peculiar fact: In the last two years, Rosenborg has met Start three times on Lerkendal (twice in the series, once in the cup). And all three times, Start has scored three goals. Want some perspective on that? Well, in the other ten home matches this season, Rosenborg has let in five goals. And three of those were Haugesund’s doing (told you they’ve been impressive), so in nine home matches, the juggernaut from Trøndelag has let in three goals. What on earth Start has figured out against Rosenborg på Lerkendal is one closely guarded secret, which probably involves some black magic.
This post was originally written by Haakon S