Football Season Review

№12: Sarpsborg 08

Sarpsborg started the new season with expectations of progress under the guidance of new boss Mikael Stæhre, coming as a replacement for the long-serving Geir Bakke. Yet, the Swedish coach did not have the most auspicious of starts and his team were immediately put in the bottom of the table after an opening run of five losses in a row. However, there was enough quality and nous in this Sarpsborg side for them not to linger in the bottom places for too long and they enjoyed a pretty solid run of three wins in four and just one loss in seven to move into mid-table. The form of Anton Saletros in midfield and the experience of Bjorn Inge Utvik and Magnar Odegaard were the bedrocks of this improvement. However, it was Ismail Coulibaly who emerged as the real beating heart of this side as the young Senegalese began to orchestrate games from midfield and provide both goal threat and urgency. Indeed, the team continued to improve and a battling win over Molde in August raised the hopes of a real push for the top six in the second half of the season. However, both Coulibaly and promising striker Jurgen Strand Larsen were sold abroad and the squad never really reached these levels of excellence again. They had the odd decent result but mostly the campaign petted out in the final third of it, with a run of ten games without a victory to round it off despite only one loss in the last five. It was a decent and at times even encouraging campaign for Sarpsborg but they too often underwhelmed and have a lot of work to get back to the levels from a couple of seasons ago.

Player of the Season: Nicolai Næss