After the blog post about Norwegian players to look out for, I got the feedback that Stabaek deserves a post for themselves. Why not make it a post about one team each from the top three divisions in Norway then?
There are multiple exciting teams in Norway with great traditions, talents and players, but to narrow it down I’ve landed on these three teams:
Moss FK – Norwegian Second Division
At one point Moss was one of the best teams in Norway and had their best period in the 80’s winning both the cup and the league title. Combine that with playing against Real Madrid and FC Bayern, and you have some great history to replicate in FM23.
Currently finding themselves at the third level in Norway after they got relegated in 2010 and have struggled to get promoted back up. They even got relegated again and played one season at the fourth tier before they got promoted and established them in the Second Division again.
This season they seem to have something great going and at the time of writing they are top of the table with four games left to play. They started the season with winning the first nine games and surprised everyone. With the former Everton keeper Thomas Myhre as manager the club is slowly finding the way back to being a top club in Norway and a positive vibe is surrounding the club.
They have a solid squad at this level with several of the players capable of staying at the club after a potential promotion. To name a few standout players they have Noah Alexandersson, son of the CM legend Niklas Alexandersson, who plays in attack and went viral earlier this year after scoring from 81 meters out. Watch the goal here. Can he replicate his father and become a FM legend?
The next one is Claudio Braga who came from Portugal before the season as a undescribed player and a possible wildcard. After getting acclimatized and getting used to the cold weather he has really started to prove his value with eight goals in the last ten league games. With great flair and dribbling he is one to build the team around.
In goal they have the best goalkeeper in the division in Mathias Eriksen Ranmark who came from Molde last season. He’s a well rounded keeper with no big weaknesses and could be a key player for several seasons if you manage to keep a hold of him.
The club doesn’t have great facilities, but they are decent at the level the club find itself on. However, the stadium, Melløs Stadion, is possibly the biggest and best one at this level and as a great bonus they play on natural grass and not artificial as many other teams in Norway does.
So, can you replicate the real life success and bring the club back where it belongs in FM23?
Stabæk Fotball – Norwegian First Divison
Stabæk has recently established itself as the best academy in Norway and has brought several great players through. Hugo Vetlesen(Bodø/Glimt), Andreas Hanche-Olsen(Gent), Morten Thorsby(Union Berlin) and Antonio Nusa(Club Brugge) are some of the players the club has produced and sold in the last years.
After getting relegated from the Eliteserien last season, the club is now in the second tier and one of the favourites to get promoted. However, after a different start and sacking their manager in the summer, they are placed second on the table with five games to go and will get promoted if they keep their place.
The club has two major titles to look back on, winning the Norwegian cup in 1998 and winning the Eliteserien in 2008 as their proudest moment. After some troublesome years with financial problems, moving into a new stadium and back to its old one again, the club has now found their place in the Norwegian football hierarchy as a club that focuses on youth and developing its players rather than spending money they don’t have. By the looks of it, it’s working great, and the club is sustainable, with a good flow of talent and transfer fees boosting their financials.
The first team has several established and good players at this level, but all their talent in the youth team draws attention to the club in this year’s FM. There are many worth mentioning, but I will focus on three players that should have a bright future ahead of them.
First out is Aleksander Andresen, who came from Moss FK last year and made his debut in the Eliteserien at 16. But unfortunately, he lost almost a year of football in 2020 when he was diagnosed with cancer and won the most critical battle in his young life.
He’s a central midfielder with good technique, and his mentality is something else. Under a year after he was declared cancer free, he made his debut in Elitserien and Norway U16. This season he has also captained the U17 team.
Andresen can also play the right wing and cut in with his left foot. I do think he has his future in the centre of the pitch, though, and his potential there is vast.
Olav Veum is the second one, and he also lost a year of football due to injury. He’s still young and has a great future ahead of him. He’s good enough to play off the bat and contribute to the first team. He can be hard to keep at the club, but I would build the team around him to maximise his potential and value before the imminent transfer to one of Europe’s best leagues.
He is described as a tough player that loves to defend, and as a bonus, he’s good on the ball and has good physical stats. He’s also in the captain’s team in the first team, despite not playing more than three games for them. That says everything about his mentality.
The third one is Mathias Farnes Gabrielsen, another central defender with great determination and talent.
Not as tough as Veum, but decent technical and has a good physique. He hasn’t made his debut for the first team yet, and Veum might be in front of him in the pecking order. Gabrielsen needs more time before he’s ready, but with his potential, he should be prepared for the first team in a season or two. In real life this season, he had developed well with the reserves, playing twelve games so far and even stepped in goal when their keeper was sent off late in a game.
Can you bring Stabæk back to the top of Norwegian football and develop some new Norwegian internationals along the way?
Vålerenga Fotball – Eliteserien
Vålerenga is the biggest club from the biggest city in Norway, the capital Oslo. Because of that, the club has “always” been the club with the most prominent talent pool, and because of that, they have a tradition of developing Norwegian youth internationals. However, they have struggled to get the players to take the last step into senior football and become regular first-team squad members. They had a golden generation on their hands in 2009/2010 with players like Harmeet Singh, Mohamed Fellah and Amin Nouri, to name a few, but none of them lived up to their potential.
In the last few seasons, since Dag-Eilev Fagermo became manager, the club have managed to develop several exciting talents, and some of the hottest players in the league are now playing for the club. In addition to the ones still at the club, they have also sold Kristoffer Klaesson to Leeds, Kjetil Haug to Toulouse and Aron Dønnum to Standard Liege.
With two goalkeepers of that standard leaving the club within a year, most clubs would’ve signed an established keeper to replace them. Vålerenga also did that when they signed Per Kristian Bråtveit. Instead, he left after a month because the club decided to promote Magnus Sjøeng from their ranks. The 20-year-old has been selected as the first-choice and also made his debut for Norway U21s in September.
To strengthen the squad, the club made some solid signings this summer when three former players returned to the club. Stefan Strandberg was brought back from Serie A and Salernitana and is arguably the best centre-back in the league. In addition, Torgeir Børven returns from a spell in Turkey, and Simen Juklerød returns after four solid years in Belgium with Antwerpen and Genk.
The club has a lot of players worth mentioning, but Osame Sahraoui should be the standout player offensively. The silky attacking midfielder combines great flair with great technique and deadly killer passes. If you keep him at the club, he will be your main man for years. If not, you can probably build a great team with the money you get for him.
Jacob Dicko Eng got his breakthrough this season and has established himself as a starter for Vålerenga. Capable on both flanks, he’s possibly best on the left, where he can cut inside with pace. Also, a good dribbler, he’s capable of causing havoc for the opposition’s defenders. He may not be good enough to start from the get-go, but he is undoubtedly a player worth investing opportunities in.
Odin Thiago Holm is well known and a given for everyone managing Vålerenga. In my post about Norwegian talents, you can read about him and another Vålerenga player. Another central midfielder is also making waves at the club in Magnus Bech Riisnæs. His father, Dag, played five seasons for the club and won the Norwegian Cup in 1997, so the youngster sure has some good genes. A good passer for the ball with good vision to go with it. He’s an excellent talent to grow into a playmaker for your team. He’s only 17, but age is just a number. I would include him in the first team from the start and hand him minutes now and then.
Can you win something with Vålerenga and make them the biggest club in the country?