2019 Eliteserien league wrapup
Molde wins first Eliteserien league championship since 2014
Jo Christian Weldingh
Molde secured its first Eliteserien league championship in five years, with two games left to play. After having seen archrival Rosenborg win four league titles in a row, the Molde squad could celebrate after beating Strømsgodset 4-0 in early November. The second celebration occurred after the season finale against second place Bodø/Glimt in the snow on Molde’s home turf Dec. 1. After the 4-2 win, the gold confetti fell on them, and the championship trophy was presented, and the players received their medals.
After two league titles under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjær in 2011 and 2012, and one under manager Tor Ole Skullerud in 2014, the Molde fans have been forced to watch Rosenborg celebrate four consecutive league titles. But in Erling Moe’s first season as Molde manager after taking over for Solskjaer in December 2018, the team came out victorious.
Moe has been praised for how quickly he was able to put his own thoughts and ideas into the squad and that he has been able to get the best out of each player.
It has been an unusual soccer season. Molde’s success on the pitch has almost been outshone by Rosenborg’s failures off the pitch and the drop in attendance.
Rosenborg has won five of the last six Norwegian league and cup titles, but halfway through 2018, the Rosenborg board suddenly stated that they weren’t happy with the club’s development and sacked the team’s manager Kåre Ingebrigtsen. That unexpected move has resulted in a 2019 season filled with constant internal disarray, an early cup exit, and a third place in the league, 16 points behind Molde.
Never in the last 18 years have so few spectators made their way into Norwegian soccer stadiums, down 1.51% from 2018. One reason for the attendance decline might be that teams like Rosenborg (down league worst 22.65%), Brann (+5.86%) and Vålerenga (-15.1%), the teams that usually draw the biggest crowds, have underperformed.
Another point made by soccer experts is that Norwegian teams are getting less rooted in their local communities. If you look at Rosenborg, for example, a team that is known for using players from their own region, the Trondheim team has used only one player from their home region in their first team lineup this season.
However, Rosenborg’s failures do not take anything away from Molde’s achievements (21 wins, 5 draws, 4 losses, 68 points). They have been superb from their first kickoff and didn’t lose a single match on their home field.
Molde has outperformed the competition this season, both as a collective and as individual players. Molde’s best player of 2019 was arguably Magnus Wolff Eikrem. The Molde local returned to his hometown last season after unsuccessful stays in both Cardiff in the English Premier League and Seattle Sounders in Major League Soccer. He has delivered a bunch of great performances. He has provided 19 points in 25 matches and is back in the national team discussion. He was named the NTB Stock Exchange Player of the Year. He was one of three Molde players with more than 10 goals with 11. James had 17 and “Ohi” Omoijuanfo had 15. They outscored the opposition 72-31.
Bodø/Glimt showed great improvement from last year, and the silver medal was its first medal since 2003. Odd finished fourth.
Viking moved back into Eliteserien this season and finished fifth. They won the Norwegian Cup with a 1-0 win over Haugesund, which finished seventh in Eliteserien, Dec. 8 at Oslo’s Ullevål Stadion. Zlatko Tripic scored on a penalty kick.
This article originally appeared in the December 27, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.