Rosenborg back on top in Norway

After two disappointing seasons in which they dropped to fifth place, Rosenborg came back with a bang and won the 2009 league title.

Swedish coach Erik Hamren had been given sufficient time to model his team along the same principles that brought him earlier success with Aab Aalborg in Denmark. Under his guidance Rosenborg may have been criticised for not playing the most adventurous football but they were in the driving seat from start to finish line, losing only one of their 30 matches.

By winning the title, the Trondheim club reminded people why they were such a force in domestic and European club football a few years back.

There are a number of factors behind Rosenborg’s success. The club’s goalscorer of the season, Rade Prica, with 17 league goals. is certainly one of them. Hamren knew what he would get when he bought the Swede from Sunderland where he had nearly drifted into oblivion, because he had had him under his wings before.

Prica scored goals from all angles but will be best remembered for his long range thunderbolts. In the final match of the campaign, in Bergen, he equalised to deny Brann the chance to go fourth in the table. Prica’s link-up play with Steffen Iversen has also been a success.

Versatile Vadim Demidov also blossomed this seaosn, forming a strong partnership with Dane Kris Stadsgaard in central defence. Swedish full-backs Mikael Lustig and Mikael Dorsin have completed a strong back-line.

Midfielder Roar Strand, who will be 40 in February, completed his 20th season with the club. The veteran won his 25th league title with Rosenborg this season and has played more than 400 league matches.

As the season came to a close, Hamren was targeted by the Swedish FA to take over the national side and they finally got his signature. He will continue as joint Rosenborg coach and national coach of Sweden until September next year.

Molde finished as runners-up under Swedish coach Kjell Jonevret in their second season in the top flight. Their exciting front line scored 62 goals in 30 matches and Ivorians Mame Biram Diouf and Pape Pate Diouf scored 16 and 11 respectively. Manchester United signed Mame Diouf earlier this year but let him finish the season in Norway.

Veterans Magne Hoset and Daniel Berg Hestad have contributed strongly and left-back Knut Indaroy won his first international call up. He has been a revelation as he attacks down the flank.

Molde faced Aalesund in the cup final at Ullevaal in Oslo and can look back at a successful season anyway.

Stabaek struggled initially but came back strongly towards the end, challenging Molde for second place. Daniel Nannskog scored 15 goals, only one less than in the championship season of 2008, but the team lacked the consistency of last year. Janne Jonsson has brought many Swedish fellow countrymen to the club and Pontus Farnerud has been influential with his movement, accurate passing and ability to steer the play.

Newcomers Odd Grenland impressed through most of the season but form dipped towards the end and they had to settle for fourth place. Coach Dag-Eilev Fagermo has formed a well balanced side with youngsters and experienced players.

Striker Peter Kovacs scored 16 goals and Morten Fevang has been a revelation in his new position in central defence. Youngsters Fredrik Gulsvik and Magnus Lekven have been groomed to take over responsibility next year.

Brann (5th), Tromso (6th), Valerenga (7th) and especially Viking (10th) did not manage to satisfy their own aspirations to the season.

To the surprise of most observers, this season’s newcomers – Odd Grenland, Sandefjord and Start – all survived in their first season at top flight. Bodo/Glimt and Lyn struggled all season and were relegated.

Fredrikstad were sensationally relegated after they lost to Sarpsborg in the play-off semi-finals. The Aristocrats, who only moved to a new stadium two years ago, lost 2-0 to the second division’s fifth-placed club.

The promoted clubs are Haugesund and Honefoss, the latter looking back on a decade in which they have climbed from the lower divisions to the top flight. Captain Frode Lafton and striker Lars Lafton were influential this season.

Aalesund, coached by former international Kjetil Rekdal, upset the form book when they beat Molde on penalties after a dramatic Cup Final ended 2-2. It was the club’s first trophy.

Player of the season
Makhtar Thioume (Molde)
The most complete player of the season. From his attacking midfield role, the Senegalese has set up the pacy strikers up front on numerous occasions. Unrivaled technique and ball skills.

Coach of the season
Erik Hamren (Rosenborg)
The 52-year-old Swede needed half a year before he started to form the play of the league champions. After spells with Swedish clubs he went to Denmark and won the league title with Aalborg in 2008. Set to take over the Swedish national side.

Newcomer of the season
Erik Huseklepp (Brann)
Made the breakthrough for Brann, scoring 15 goals. Some of them were beauties where Huseklepp showed an accurate touch of the ball, chipping and curling it into the corner. He won his first international call up and can expect to be a regular for Norway for years to come.