Football Season Guide

FK Bodø/Glimt

In


Nikita Khaikin (gk), Erlend Dahl Reitan (def), Rosenborg - loan),Victor Boniface (att), Oliver Sigurjónsson (mid, Breidablik - return from loan), Jens Petter Hauge (sp)(mid), Aalesund - return from loan)

Out


Emil Jonassen (r)(def), BATE Borisov), Martin Björnbak (r)(def), Molde), Artur Krysiak (sp)(gk), Odra), José Ángel Jurado (k)(mid), Sheriff - loan), Eirik Steen (sp)(def), Asane), Kristian Opseth (k)(att), Erzurumspor), Thomas Jacobsen (sp)(def), Thomas Drage (sp)(mid), Marco Tagbajumi (sp)(att)

Bodø/Glimt managed to keep themselves in the top flight upon promotion last season and while it was not exactly pretty and they mostly crawled over the line towards the end, the team never looked in serious danger, despite scoring just 32 goals in 30 games. Now have a new coach in place as assistant Kjetil Knutson takes over from Aasmund Bjørkan, who took the role of a sporting director. It should mostly the same approach from the new man in charge as the team will rely on solidity at the back and physicality in midfield while playing with a sole striker. It has been a tough transfer window for the Glimt side though as they lost a series of vital players, mostly Kristian Opseth. The reliable striker moved to Turkey and it is not really clear who will fill in for him this season. Endre Kupen should be the one but he has missed 12 months with injury. Jose Angel Jurado and Martin Bjornbak are two other big departures who have not been replaced yet and especially the Spaniard is someone who made a different with his vision in midfield and Knutsen just does not have anything close to that in the squad. In terms of new additions, getting Erlend Dahl Reitan back on loan is a good piece of business but otherwise nothing stands out. It is looking pretty grim for Bodø/Glimt ahead of the season as they have a really thinner and weaker squad, and inexperienced coach, and will need lots of things to fall their way if they are to stay up.

Target


Staying up is clearly the main priority but that will be a tall order.

Haugesund

In


Benjamin Hansen (def), Nordsjaelland), Martin Samuelsen (mid), West Ham - loan), Niklas Sandberg (mid), Start), Thore Pedersen (mid), Vard Haugesund), Mikkel Desler (def), Odense)

Out


Marko Cosic (sp)(def), Rudar Velenje), Kristoffer Velde (sp)(att), Nest Sotra - loan), David Akintola (r)(mid), Midtjylland - end of loan), Vegard Skjerve (r)(def), retired), Per Kristian Bratveit (r)(gk), Djurdgarden), Kristoffer Haraldseid (r)(def), Molde), Frederik Gytkjaer (r)(att), Lyngby)

Haugesund had a brilliant last season where they consistently punched above their weight and held their nerve until the end to clinch a spot in Europe. Yet inevitably bigger fish came looking to prize their assets way and coach Erik Horneland was lured to Rosenborg. That means that Jostein Grindhaug takes over as a manager for a second time, having also been a director of football at the club in the past couple of seasons. He has an unenviable task in trying to replicate the heroics of last season while the team has been stripped of some vital players. Kristoffer Haraldseid is the biggest loss as he has been one of the best right-backs in the league in the past 12 months while the brilliant goalie Per Kristian Bratveit, who is off to Sweden, will be very tough to replace too. Martin Samuelsen is an exciting signing and he is returning to his home town after struggling for the past couple of years to reach his early promise but the other new signings are mostly underwhelming and there is definitely a drop-off in squad quality year on year. Haugesund should still be tough to beat but they do not have the sort of go-to striker that will be relied upon to settle games. Also, not replacing Bratveit looks a very risky move as his replacement in the starting 11, Helge Sandvik, is several levels below.

Target


Haugesund should prioritise staying well clear of the bottom places and solidifying in mid-table but should be a rocky season after the exploits of last year.

Kristiansund BK

In


Haris Cirak (mid) - Nest Sotra, Christophe Psyché (def) - FC Banik Ostrava, Kristoffer Hoven (att) - Honefoss, Sean McDermott (g) - Dinamo Bucharest, Meinhard Olsen (mid) - Torshavn, Serigne Mor Mbaye (gk) - Víkingur Reykjavík,

Out


Sverre Ökland (mid) - Ullensaker/Kisa, Jonas Rönningen (mid) - Kongsvinger, Simon Alexandersson (att) - Dalkurd (loan), Joakim Bjerkas (def) - Levanger (loan), Benjamin Stokke (att) - Randers, Nikita Baranov (def) - Sogndal, Conny Mansson (gk) - released

With last season's fifth place finish Kristiansund have set the bar very high indeed. It was an incredible campaign for Christian Michelsen's side in their second ever top flight season, and they were definitely one of a number of surprise packages in Norwegian football last year. And as attention turns to their third season in the top flight few will expect Kristiansund to better their 7th and 5th place finishes of the last two campaigns. But at the same time Michelsen can't allow the club to take their foot of the gas now. The Kristiansund squad looks healthy enough, and while they will always be prone to losing their top players to bigger and wealthier clubs, the club have done ever so well in recruiting timely replacements. Flamur Kastrati will be a key player up front if he can curb a tendency for ill discipline, and Liridon Kalludra who had a sensational season last time out remains key to the creative forces in midfield. So far Kristiansund have managed to keep him happy, and it's imperative they don't lose him before the start of the season now.

Target


Kristiansund should aim for another top half finish, but they must keep fighting hard against complacency. Expectations need to be managed at the club, but with Michelsen in charge no one will be given the chance of thinking ahead of themselves. The club looks grounded and honest and as long as they know what to expect and how to deal with disappointments along the way, there shouldn't be a massive downturn in performances this year. Although another fifth place finish is surely a stretch too far. Prediction: 8th

Lillestrøm SK

In


Alex Dyer (mid), Elfsborg - loan), Daniel Gustavsson (mid), Elfsborg), Tobias Salquist (def), Waasland-Beveren)

Out


Erling Knudtzon (r)(att), Molde), Stefan Antonijevic (sp)(def), Sogndal), Gary Martin (sp)(att), Valur), Ifeanyi Matthew (r)(mid), Osmanlispor - loan), Marius Amundsen (r)(def)

Lillestrøm looked in serious danger at times last season but a change of manager in July proved successful a Jørgen Lennartson managed to steer them to safety with a few games to spare. Signed a few good players during the winter and seem to have a more balanced and generally deeper squad. Daniel Gustavsson especially looks the sort of player that should play a leading role for the side in midfield. Erling Knudtzon had a bit of a stinker last season after the exploits in 2017 but he still moved to Molde in the close season and leaves a sizeable hole, even if Thomas Lenhe Olsen emerged as the key attacking fore of this team by the end of last year. Iffeanyi Matthew is another serious loss in midfield but Daniel Pedersen have been excellent since signing last summer and overall the squad is capable of coping with the departures. Lillestrøm will not deviate from an efficient and mostly ugly style of football in the coming season and will be looking to generate some early points and make sure that they are not forced into nail-biting scenarios as in recent years.

Target


Staying up is naturally the main target for a limited team like LSK but they have the ingredients to do a bit more than that if they are willing to take the chance and be more open in their approach.

Mjøndalen

In


Akeem Latifu (def) - Sogndal, Fredrik Brustad (att) - Molde, Tonny Brochmann (mid) - Stabaek, Sondre Liseth (att) - Nest Sotra, Joackim Solberg (def) - Sandefjord

Out


Mads Gundersen (mid) - Assiden IF, Ousseynou Boye (att) - El Gouna FC, Jonathan Lindseth (mid) - Sarpsborg 08, Ylldren Ibrahimaj (mid) - Viking

Mjondalen are back in the Eliteserien, three years on from last time they spent a season in the top tier. Back then they received plenty of plaudits for their commitment and attitude, but ultimately they fell short and were relegated after form completely evaded them in the second half of the season. The question remains whether Vegard Hansen can coach his side to survival this time around? The jury is well and truly out and Mjondalen go into the season as firm underdogs again. That won't be something they will mind too much. The squad has been freshened up and there are only a handful of players that were around in 2015 when Mjondalen were last an Eliteserien side. Vamouti Diomande missed the enitre season with a nasty injury, and he will relish a second chance to show what he can do. Fredrik Brustad has been brought in from Molde while the likes of Tonny Brochmann and Joachim Olsen Solberg are veterans who will know what is required from the more inexperienced players around them.

Target


But for all intents and purposes the Mjondalen squad still looks far too thin for this season to be anything other than a struggle for survival. Not many are giving them a chance of that, but the club will at least be focused on the task ahead and would like nothing better than to prove the critics wrong again. If injuries start to bite early, this could be a very tough season indeed. Prediction: 16th

Molde

In


Ohi Omoijuanfo (att) - Stabaek, Kristoffer Haraldseid (def) - Haugesund, Martin Björnbak (def) - Bodo/Glimt, Eirik Ulland Andersen (mid) - Stromsgodset, Álex Craninx (gk) - FC Cartagena, Erling Knudtzon (att) - Lillestrom, Fredrik Sjölstad (mid) - Kongsvinger

Out


Erling Braut Haland (att) - RB Salzburg, Eman Markovic (mid) - HSK Zrinjski Mostar, Babacar Sarr (mid) - Enisey Krasnoyarsk, Agnaldo (mid) - Rovaniemen Palloseura, Petter Strand (att) - Brann, Isak Ssewankambo (def) - Ostersunds, Stian Gregersen (def) - Elfsborg (loan), Fredrik Brustad (mid) - Mjondalen (Loan),

Despite managing to overtake Brann and pip them to second last season, Molde endured a frustrating campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and they were never really title contenders finishing five points behind Rosenborg. That will be desperately disappointing for the hierarchy at the club who keep splashing money at the first team and have so far yet to see any sort of reward for it. But while Solskjaer has left to take a dream job at Manchester United, the owners are not giving up on securing silverware this season. The cash has been splashed again and with the pre-season form better than Rosenborg, there is yet again optimism in the ranks. With Erling Braut Haaland's departure Molde have had to dig deep again and reinvest the funds received for the young striker. And the pedigree of players brought in certainly signals that the club are aiming high once again. Eirik Ulland Andersen was Stromsgodset's key player last season, and he is now at Aker Stadion. And the recent recruitment of Stabaek hitman Ohi Omoijuanfo is another positive move in the final third. Kristoffer Haraldseid and Christopher Telo should both have enough about them to tighten the defence, and Leke James and Magnus Wolff Eikrem will also surely have a part to play if this season is going to be a success.

Target


If caretaker manager Erling Moe can get the best out of the players at his disposal, then this could be a very famous season in the north west. But Molde need to turn up for all the 30 games this season, and stay fully focused on each game. On paper it looks like it could be their year, but how many times has that been said in the past without it materialising? Prediction: 2nd

Odd

In


Andreas Helmersen (att), Rosenborg - loan), Fredrik Jensen (mid), Zulte Waregem - loan), Egil Selvik (gk), Sandnes Ulf)

Out


Viljar Myhra (sp)(gk), Strømsgodset), Stefan Mladenovic (sp)(mid), Sandefjord), Martin Broberg (r)(mid), Örebro), Torbjörn Agdestein (sp)(att), Aalesund), Andreas Nordvik (sp)(def)

Odd were expected to struggle mightily last season but they progressed nicely through the campaign and were one of the form sides in the final months. Overall, they were rarely exciting but the abrasive Dag-Eliev Fagermo yet again managed to extract more than the sum of their parts from a limited squad. Brought back Fredrik Oldrup Jensen on a loan deal and he is a fine addition in midfield that needs no acclimation. Andreas Helmersen has what it takes to be a starting striker after joining on loan but it remains to be seen whether he can replicate the season he has at Ranheim last year. Did not lose any major players, with Martin Broberg their biggest departure, and he was very much a utility game. It will be interesting to see what the progress of Joshua Kitolano and Markus Kaasa will be after promising first seasons with the seniors last year. Odd's main issue remains the lack of a potent goal scorer but they have a midfield that can always chip in with the goals and they have a enviable pair of wingers in Elbasan Rashani and Bilal Nje, with Birk Risa a good option as well.

Target


Odd are unlikely to pull any trees again but they did not lose any key pieces and seem better placed than12 months ago in terms of finishing in the top half of the table.

Ranheim

In


Magnus Stamneströ (mid) - Rosenborg, Erlend Sørhøy (att) - Kolstad, Fredrik Vinje (mid) - Rosenborg 2, Adrià Mateo (mid) - Levanger, Ivar Rönning (mid) - Ham/Kam, Jörgen Överaas (def) - Egersunds IK

Out


Christian Eggen Rismark (def) - Brann, Aslak Fonn Witry (def) - Djurgarden, Kristoffer Lökberg (mid) - Brann, Mats Lillebo (att) - Stjordals Blink, Jakob Tromsdal (mid) - Stjordals Blink, Simen Raaen Sandmael (mid) - Levanger, Sivert Solli (mid) - Stjördals Blink IL, Andreas Helmersen (att) - Rosenborg (end of loan), Karl Morten Eek (def) - released

Ranheim fans must still be pinching themselves as a first Eliteserien season produced a sensational seventh place finish. It was an incredible season for Svein Maalen's side, and it could in truth have been even better with the bubble bursting slightly in the autumn and any plans of keeping up with the top four clubs evaporated quickly. But with the resources available and the teams they were up against a top half finish was beyond everyone's dreams before a ball had been kicked last season. Expectation is curbed once again ahead of the 2019 campaign, and that can only be a good thing. There's no doubt that the club and Maalen are ambitious, but they are well aware of the framework needed for Ranheim to operate in the top division of Norwegian football. There will never be any marquee signings, and the better performers at the club will always be in the shop window for the bigger teams. It's a credit to the work done at the Trondheim club that Brann have snapped up to of their starting eleven from last season ahead of this one. And as long as they have a healthy relationship with big brother Rosenborg, Ranheim will be able to produce and develop excellent footballers and give them a wealth of experience in the Eliteserien.

Target


Ranheim know what is needed not only to survive in the top flight but also how to excel in it. This time around though they won't be the surprise package everyone heralded them as last time around. Second seasons can always be a bit trickier, and Maalen will be hoping for the same attitude and commitment his players showed last season in spades. Even that might not be enough this season,. Ranheim will do extremely well to get anywhere near their top half finish of 2018, and it'll more likely be a dogfight to preserve their Eliteserien status. Prediction: 14th

Rosenborg BK

In


David Akintola (mid), Midtjylland - loan), Gustav Valsvik (def), Eintracht Braunschweig), Gjermund Asen (mid), Tromsø)

Out


Issam Jebali (sp)(att), Al Wahda), Alex Gersbach (sp)(def), NAC Breda), Erlend Dahl Reitan (sp)(def), Bodø/Glimt), Matthías Vilhjálmsson (sp)(mid), Vålerenga), Jonathan Levi (sp)(mid), Elgsborg - loan)

Rosenborg clawed their way to a title last season almost despite themselves, making a dire start and then eventually rectifying things under caretaker Rino Coolen as main contenders Brann failed to sustain the pace. It is now a fresh start for RBK as Erik Horneland assumes the role of a manager and is expected to keep the tradition domestically and finally make a breakthrough to the Champions League group stages. Horneland showed his acumen, vision and ability to motivate last season with lowly Haugesund but this will be an entirely different type of job and he will need to be flexible. Signings have not been too many but all of them have been quality as all of Asen, Akintola and Valsvik add something and have what it takes to be very useful components, even if none of them is likely to be a starter immediately. Rosenborg managed to retain all of their core pieces as well, with Nicklas Bendtner sticking on for another season, and some fine players like Birger Meling, Mike Jensen and Samuel Adegbenro resisting the temptation to look for new challenge just yet. That said, it has been a rocky pre-season for the title holders as they have looked confused and got beaten on regular basis. It should be a slow start of the season but as a whole the team has too much quality and no real pretender for the throne.

Target


Extending the run of titles in the league is the minimum for a side that is expected to bring more to the table in Europe.

Sarpsborg 08

In


Steffen Skalevik (att), Brann), Nicolai Naess (def), Heerenveen), Wilmer Azofeifa (mid), Santos FC), Pablo Arboine (def), Santos FC), Lars-Jörgen Salvesen (att), Ullensaker/Kasa), Sheldon Bateau (def), Kairat), Jonathan Lindseth (mid, Mjondalen)

Out


Tobias Heintz (sp)(mid), Kasimpasa), Rashad Muhammed (r)(att), Erzurumspor), Harmeet Singh (sp)(mid), HJK Helsinki), Mikkel Agger (sp)(att), Viborg), Patrick Mortensen (k)(att), Aarhus),Usman Mohammed (sp)(mid), Pyunik), Joackim Jörgensen (r))(def), IK Start), Joonas Tamm (sp)(def), Flora Talinn - end of loan)

Sarpsborg put all their eggs in the Europa League basket in the second half of last season and the league was very much an afterthought. Hence, their lowly spot in the final standings is somewhat misleading and prior to July they wee having another very strong and consistent campaign. Yet this could be the first season in a while that the team from the outskirts of Oslo starts to regress as they lost more than a few key pieces. Patrick Mortensen was a brilliantly reliably, if unflashy striker, and he will be massively missed by Geir Bakke after a move to Denmakr. Moreover, fellow striker Rashad Muhammed, versatile and talented young winger Tobias Heintz, and reliable defender Joakim Jorgesen leave sizeable holes too. On the plus, side, keeping Kristoffer Zachariessen around despite strong interest is a boost and the team did bring some proven quality in striker Steffen Skalevik and Sheldon Bateau. A couple of signings from Costa Rica are very much a shot in the dark but could prove jewels as well. Sarpsborg will be once again aiming high and looking to challenge with the big teams but the feeling is that the squad lost a bit too much guile and experience and should have a pretty slow start given all the changes. One player who could make a major breakthrough is Jorgen Strand Larsen as the prodigy striker is set to be given more game time and has the potential to be the new Erling Haland in the league.

Target


Should settle for a spot in mid-table and anything more will be a bit too much to handle.

SK Brann

In


Christian Eggen Rismark (def) - Ranheim, Kristoffer Lökberg (mid) - Ranheim, Jesper Löfgren (def) - Mjallby, Petter Strand (att) - Molde, Hakon Opdal (gk) - Start,

Out


Sivert Heltne Nilsen (mid) - AC Horsens, Steffen Skalevik (att) - Sarpsborg 08, Halldor Stenevik (mid) - Stromsgodset, Deyver Vega (mid) - Valerenga, Daniel Braaten (att) - released

Despite managing to overtake Brann and pip them to second last season, Molde endured a frustrating campaign under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and they were never really title contenders finishing five points behind Rosenborg. That will be desperately disappointing for the hierarchy at the club who keep splashing money at the first team and have so far yet to see any sort of reward for it. But while Solskjaer has left to take a dream job at Manchester United, the owners are not giving up on securing silverware this season. The cash has been splashed again and with the pre-season form better than Rosenborg, there is yet again optimism in the ranks. With Erling Braut Haaland's departure Molde have had to dig deep again and reinvest the funds received for the young striker. And the pedigree of players brought in certainly signals that the club are aiming high once again. Erik Ulland Andersen was Stromsgodset's key player last season, and he is now at Aker Stadion. And the recent recruitment of Stabaek hitman Ohi Omoijuanfo is another positive move in the final third. Kristoffer Haraldseid and Christopher Telo should both have enough about them to tighten the defence, and Leke James and Magnus Wolff Eikrem will also surely have a part to play if this season is going to be a success.

Target


If caretaker manager Erling Moe can get the best out of the players at his disposal, then this could be a very famous season in the north west. But Molde need to turn up for all the 30 games this season, and stay fully focused on each game. On paper it looks like it could be their year, but how many times has that been said in the past without it materialising? Prediction: 3rd

Stabæk

In


Daniel Braaten (att, Brann), Matthew Rusike (att), Cape Town City), Madis Vihmann (def), Flora Talinn - loan)

Out


Ohi Omoijuanfo (r)(att), Molde), John Hou Saeter (r)(mid), Beijing Guoan), Daniel Granli (r)(def), AIK), Moussa Njie (r)(mid), Partizan Belgrad), Filip Valencic (sp)(mid), Inter Turku), Aboubakar Keita (r)(mid), Copenhagen - end of loan), Hakon Skogseid (r)(def), retired), Abdul-Basit Agouda (att), KFUM Oslo)

Stabæk had a massively difficult last season in which they went through managerial change mid-season and still seemed destined for relegation until just about staying above the bottom two and then edging Aalesund in the play-offs. Seemed like holding onto most of their key players during the winter transfer period but lost main striker Ohi Omoijuanfo a week before the season and he will be tough to replace, even if Franck Boli keeps up the brilliant form he showed in the second half of last season. In terms of new additions, Daniel Braaten is the most recognisable one but he is a player on the wane and is unlikely to play a role bigger than just an impact sub. Hennubg Berg will look to utilise the club's great academy again and try to bring in more players into the first-team from there. The outlook for the season is hardly an exciting one but Berg coach who has managed to improve the team last season and should make them more formidable and keep them further from the drop zone, given a full pre-season.

Target


Main issue will be staying up and it is hard to expect much more than a lower mid-table finish for a side that looks especially deficient in defence.

Strømsgodset

In


Halldor Stenevik (mid) - Brann, Nicholas Mickelson (def) - HamKam, Viljar Myhra (gk) - Odd, Yacouba Sylla (mid) - KV Mechelen, Martin Spelmann (mid) - Aarhus, Johan Hove (mid) - Sogndal,

Out


Eirik Ulland Andersen (mid) - Molde, Tokmac Chol Nguen (att) - Ferencvárosi TC, Kim André Madsen (def) - Asker, Knut Ahlander (mid) - SMU Mustangs, Francisco Júnior (mid) - Vendsyssel, Bassel Jradi (mid) - Hajduk Split, Christian Rubio Sivodedov (mid) - released,

How Stromsgodset went from being a top five team to finishing 13th last season, with a similar squad to the successful 2017 campaign is still one of the great Eliteserien mysteries. All they had to do was to continue the excellent form of autumn 2017, when they were the form team in the division, but instead they completely lost their balance and composure ending with Tor Ole Skullerud resigning pretty quickly. He just couldn't seem to get the message across to his players anymore. Step forward the loyal Bjorn Petter Ingebretsen who is in very familiar waters, but even he only just managed to steer the Drammen side away from the relegation play off. The damaging 2018 campaign might still have repercussions, as the squad doesn't look anywhere near as good as it did ahead of last season. But maybe the club will benefit from being a more collective unit. Eirik Ulland Andersen has left for Molde and the club were never going to be able to keep hold of Tokmac Nguen who kept them up almost singe handedly last year. Goalkeeper Espen Bugge Pettersen retired after a dreadful season, and Marcus Pedersen surely doesn't have many more seasons at Marienlyst ahead of him if he continues to be as erratic as he was last season.

Target


Bjorn Petter Ingebretsen will be optimistic, he always is, and there's no doubt they have the best man to rebuild a club that lost their way badly last year. That rebuilding process is nowhere near done yet and this will most probably be a season of rehabilitation and learning rather than one where Stromsgodset rocket up the table again. The supporters will expect more after such a dramatic fall from grace, but the club should be happy if they can get into the top half of the table again. Another flirtation with relegation would be a disaster unworthy of the club and the players at Ingebretsen's disposal. Prediction: 10th

Tromsø IL

In


Juha Pirinen (def), HJK Helseinki), Anders Jenssen (def), Trømsdalen), Brayan Rojas (att), Carmelita - loan), Artem Sokol (mid), Arsenal Tula - loan)

Out


Gjermund Asen (k)(mid), Rosenborg), Christian Landu-Landu (sp)(mid), Sandnes Ulf), Hans Norbye (sp)(def), HamKam), Magnar Ödegaard (r)(def), AIK), Tom Högli (sp)(def), retired), Mehdi Dioury (sp)(def)

Tromso had a massively underwhelming second half of the season and struggled for cutting edge and anything different against teams accustomed to their specific style of play. Finished in the bottom half of the table after initially looking like an outside shop for a European spot. Now the challenge for the tactically clever and also quite eloquent coach Simo Valakari is to make real progress and show that he can adapt with a team that still has some good players. The Northerners lost their most creative and consistently impressive player of the last two seasons in Gjermund Asen and he is close to impossible to replace in the system that is used by the coach. Signed a few mostly unknown players but left-back Juha Purinen seems to come with the pedigree of a likely starter over the course of the season. Brayan Rojas may prove an inspired signing too as the Costa Rican has struck 11 goals in just 17 games in the local league last year. Otherwise, the hopes are that Runar Espejord comes back fit and firing after missing the whole second half of last season, having done very well early on. Tromsø have the capacity to do quite well but will need to find the spark and energy in some players who have frittered away and show more desire and drive when things do not go their way.

Target


Finish in the higher end of mid-table is perfectly achievable for a team that has decent potential and a good coach.

Vålerenga IF

In


Herolind Shala (mid) - Start, Mohammed Abu (mid) - Columbus Crew, Efraín Juárez (def) - Vancouver Whitecaps, Deyver Vega (mid) - Brann, Johan Björdal (def) - Zulte Waregem, Matthías Vilhjálmsson (att) - Rosenborg,

Out


Kristoffer Hay (def) - Aalesund, Daniel Fredheim Holm (mid) - KFUM, Abdisalam Ibrahim (mid) - Pafos FC, Felipe Carvalho (def) - Nacional (loan), Simen Jukleröd (mid) - Royal Antwerp, Sam Johnson (att) - Real Salt Lake, Marcus Sandberg (gk) - Stabaek, Samúel Fridjónsson (mid) - Viking, João Meira (def) - released, Enar Jaager (def) - released

Could Valerenga finally be on the way right track? It's taken Ronny Deila two seasons, but there was definitely signs of progress last year as the Oslo side finished in a very respectable sixth place. They were still struggling with inconsistency, but considering that they were looking likely to finish in the bottom half again they did ever so well to turn things around and make sure that they bettered what was a disappointing 2017 campaign. One thing Deila did well last season was curb expectations. When he took over from Kjetil Rekdal, Deila promised too much too soon and that was one of the reasons the 2017 season seemed so very flat. Last year it was just a case of getting better, and they managed that. There haven't been many marquee signings, the club simply can't afford excess still after years of mismanagement, but Johan Laedre Bjordal and Mathias Vilhjalmsson are two players with Eliteserien pedigree that will surely walk into the starting eleven if fit. Bard Finne and Deyver Vega should also provide the creativity needed up front.

Target


Valerenga will look to better what they achieved last season, and gradually get closer and closer to the top three. But they are still worlds apart in terms of finances when competing again Molde and Rosenborg. Deila will need to motivate his side to make these difference appear as minimal as possible, because stature wise there aren't many bigger clubs in the division. If they can manage to be the leaders of the chasing pack and break into the top five this season, it would surely be a sign of further progress. Prediction: 7th

Viking FK

In


Runar Hove (def) - Florö SK, Tord Johnsen Salte (def) - Olympique Lyon, Samúel Fridjónsson (mid) - Valerenga (loan), Johnny Furdal (mid) - Nest Sotra, Ylldren Ibrahimaj (mid) - Mjondalen,

Out


Julian Ryerson (def) - Union Berlin, Steffen Ernemann (mid) - Sogndal, Stian Michalsen (mid) - Arendal, Tore André Söras (mid) - KFUM, Aniekpeno Udoh (att) - Ljungskile, Claes Kronberg (def) - released

It didn't take long for Viking to be back in the big time after comprehensively winning the OBOS ligaen last year after their humiliating Eliteserien demotion in 2017. Two seasons ago Ian Burchnall really had his hands tied at the cash strapped club as they spiralled towards relegation very early on. It was an awful season for the Stavanger club, and while they made it back to the top tier at the first time of asking, there are still doubts about their ability to cement themselves as one of Norway's biggest clubs again. Viking have had very little success on the pitch for a long time now, and off the pitch it has been even worse. Financially they are still operating on a shoestring and Bjarne Berntsen has had to produce some shrewd deals to get them back in the Eliteserien after just one year away. But the backbone of the squad is still the same as suffered relegation two years ago, and whether they are good enough to have learned the lessons from that disastrous campaign remains to be seen.

Target


For the club it's important to re-establish themselves in the top tier of Norwegian football again, and whether that means a couple of edgy campaigns in the bottom half of the table then so be it. But the supporters will definitely hope they produce something similar to what Brann did when they suffered the humiliation of second tier football for a year in 2015. Unfortunately finances at the Stavanger and Bergen are still very chalk and cheese, and Viking will do ever so well to get a top half finish this season. Even that looks a bit of a stretch at the moment. Prediction: 12th