Skrevet av Ben Wells (Football Radar)
Rosenborg har hatt en forferdelig start på sesongen, og vår Eliteserie-ekspert, Ben Wells fra Football Radar, har skrevet om klubben og hva som har gått galt. Han skriver også om hva som bør gjøres for å få giganten tilbake til toppen.
It has hardly been the dream start for new Rosenborg manager Eirik Horneland. Following on from a dreadful pre-season which saw the side win just two of their eight games, the club’s league form has been just as bad with only two points taken from their first four matches.
Pundits and fans alike have been speculating for weeks now as to what the issue with Rosenborg is. The club had been so dominant domestically for years now, but 2019 looks to be the season they will finally be knocked off of their perch.
So what has gone so dramatically wrong for Rosenborg to start the season so poorly? Clearly, the adaptation period for the side since Kare Ingebrigtsen left mid-last season has been a struggle and neither interim boss Rini Coolen nor new full time manager Horneland have quite nailed down their ideas and philosophies in an RBK side still somewhat rueing the loss of former manager Ingebrigtsen. The problems the side are experiencing, however, are larger than the managerial changes they have gone through this last year.
Ageing & Injured Players
One huge issue for Rosenborg to contend with this season is the fact that core members of their squad are clearly now past their peak whilst others have been struggling with injury and fitness issues on and off for a long time now.
Key players such as Jensen (31), Bendtner (31), Helland (29), Søderlund (31) and Reginiussen (33) are already showing signs of being past their best. These players have formed a solid core to the RBK side for the last few years of their successful period but now look to be past their peak. For Helland especially, injuries have hindered his obvious ability and forced him into a lesser role within the team.
Rosenborg til å vinne ligaen – 8.00 i odds hos Nordicbet
As well as the ageing players, there have been a number of injury and fitness concerns the side have had to deal with over the last year or so. Trondsen, Konradsen, Lundemo, de Lanlay, Bendtner and Adegbenro have all had to miss large amounts of football due to various fitness concerns they have had of late. All of these players are regulars in the squad and their presence has been missed massively, especially when it comes to the likes of Trondsen and Adegbenro. Rosenborg will be hoping that these key players are now over the worst of their injuries and will be ready to contribute heavily for the rest of the season.
A Passive Style of Play
Eirik Horneland has come under a lot of criticism for his lack of a solid formation this season with Rosenborg. The new manager has switched between different variations of 4-4-2 and 4-3-3 and whilst this lack of a clear tactical plan has obviously affected the side this season, they also have other issues to contend with in regards to their style of play.
Rosenborg have been far too passive in possession this season with too many players unwilling to take necessary risks to create large goalscoring opportunities. In addition to this it seems as if a number of players are going into games unsure of their exact positional instructions for the match ahead, often this season for RBK the midfield trio and full backs have looked out of position and unsure of where exactly they are supposed to be on the pitch.
With Anders Trondsen now back from injury, it would be a surprise if Horneland doesn’t reinstate the trusted midfield trio of Trondsen, Konradsen and Jensen for the next match. The three know each others’ games well and the resumption of this combination in midfield should at least add a little more certainty to the sides’ style of play over the next few weeks of action. This does however mean that Gjermund Åsen may be left without a spot in the XI. The ex-Tromso man has not had the best of starts in an RBK shirt thus far and his position in the team is now under threat, though Horneland may be tempted to use him in a more advanced role on the left hand side.
Lack of an Out & Out Goalscorer
It has been clear for the last year or so that Nicklas Bendtner’s form has been on a steady decline, since an electric debut in the Eliteserien that saw him directly contribute to 20 goals in 29 league games.
Bendtner has always been a maverick forward but early form suggested that the Eliteserien was a level where he could really shine and become a regular goalscorer for Rosenborg. However, his 2017 season form soon tailed off and in 2018 Bendtner managed to contribute to just 10 goals (5 goals, 5 assists) in 23 matches.
After his altercation with a taxi driver in Copenhagen, Bendtner had to serve his subsequent sentence during the 2019 pre-season which has only gone to further his lack of form and fitness coming into this Eliteserien season. Bendtner is still struggling to start matches as of the time of writing and looks set for a spell on the RBK bench.
One of the main issues for Bendtner these last two seasons however is a change of role for him in the RBK side. Pitch maps show that in his first season for the side (2017) he was seen as an out and out striker, whom the team relied upon heavily for scoring goals and not a great deal else. In 2018 and now early 2019, his role has evolved (or devolved, dependant on how you view it) and now Bendtner is dropping into deep and wide positions regularly in order to play in a role somewhere between that of a deep lying forward and a target man.
This change of role has severely damaged his goal scoring output and Bendtner’s performances and confidence has suffered as a result of this.
Alexander Søderlund has been the man preferred in the more advanced role for RBK both last season during Bendtner’s injury absence and this year whilst the Dane gets up to full match fitness. Søderlund’s form has arguably been even poorer than Bendtner’s with the big forward looking well off the pace of matches often this season and struggling to generate big chances for himself to score from.
Rosenborg did not sign any new strikers in the transfer window, though David Akintola has played as a forward for FK Jerv previously, and I would predict that this lack of a goalscoring presence up front will only add to their current woes and could cost them as the season progresses.
How Do Rosenborg Turn Their Season Around?
It certainly doesn’t look like it will be a quick or easy fix for the side to climb back up to the top of the table. There is of course a risk that everyone is simply overreacting to a poor start to the season currently, however their pre and early season form suggests that this is a trend that will not be corrected any time soon unless there is some dramatic change.
For a start, the players themselves need to step up their form significantly. There is no doubt that Rosenborg have a squad full of talented players but far too many of these players are playing well below their top level currently. Manager Horneland has to find a system that gets the best out of his top players quickly or risk losing the dressing room.
Secondly, if Rosenborg are able to keep key man Samuel Adegbenro fit for the season then his presence in the squad will be a welcome boost for the entire dressing room. Adegbenro has the ability to change the course of a game on his own as evidenced by his electric displays against Ajax when he first joined Rosenborg. Injury issues have stalled his progress since but if the side can keep the Nigerian forward fit for the entire season there is no doubt they will be a better team for it.
Finally, Eirik Horneland needs to finally settle on a set style of play and work closely with his players to put this tactic into action in matches. Too often this season, many Rosenborg players have looked lost in a system that is clearly confused by the new managers’ current lack of direction.
There is no doubt in my mind that Eirik Horneland is a good manager at this level and should be getting more out of this RBK side. If he is given the time and support from the board then there is no reason why he shouldn’t be able to turn this season around in time. Horneland may need to be bold with team selection, with certain players underperforming massively at present and it would not surprise me if we see one of David Akintola or even Erik Botheim tested up front sooner rather than later.
It’s been a poor start to 2019 for Rosenborg, but there is no reason why we shouldn’t see a change in their fortunes in the coming weeks. Following on from their recent successes was never going to be an easy task with the upheaval the club has experienced in the last 6 months and whilst I do not think they will quite be able to regain their title, I think Horneland will be pleased just to get the side back into Europe this season to give him a real base to build on for next season.