ULLEVAAL (Dagbladet): “Perry” believes it is the status quo for the national team as long as it does not break barriers.
Ståle Solbakken failed to take the team to the Qatar WC this year. On Tuesday, Norway stumbled on the finish line in the Nations League.
– It boils down to the fact that it is about breaking barriers. You do that by winning a group. This was the second time we had a match ball against Serbia. Lars (Lagerbäck) and I didn’t make it either, says «Perry» and aims for the EC playoff in 2020.
He and Lagerbäck coached Norway from 2017 to 2020. In reality, it was the loss to Serbia that led to them being fired later. Inn came Solbakken. The former FC Copenhagen boss says that his task is to take Norway to the EC finals in 2024. If he fails, it is probably over.
– Serbia was better than us two years ago. And they were better than us on Tuesday, for years after. That’s the status quo. In the meantime, Erling Braut Haaland has become a world star and Martin Ødegaard captain of Arsenal. It’s for lanterns, says «Perry».
Men he points out:
– More players on the team must step up. There must be more people who show in action that they have taken the next step.
The former assistant coach says that Haaland can quickly become a “lone swallow” at the top. The Manchester City striker scored six of Norway’s seven goals in the Nations League.
– You can’t just depend on Erling to score all the goals. Against Serbia, it was for few who showed their quality. Then, in sum, it will not be good enough. You must have a team that has the right balance and the right mental toughness and attitude to break barriers, says «Perry»
He believes that it is not surprising that Serbia eventually won the group in the Nations League. The fact that Norway had brilliant results in June – but lost twice now against Slovenia and Serbia – he believes can have the following explanation:
– We must not forget that we met a heavily reduced Sweden (won 2-1 and 3-2). They are building a new team and have many inexperienced players and a new system. We met them at a good time, he points out.
– Against Serbia away (1-0 win) we were lucky. We scored on our only chance. They had more chances. Serbia has quality players in many positions. On Tuesday, we met a team that was simply better than us. In Belgrade we had small flakes. And football is a bit about that. But it is not undeserved or surprising that Serbia is the best team in the group.
He points out:
– We were good for the first 20-25 minutes against them. Eventually, I think it crystallized quite a big difference between the layers.
– A table never lies.
– Do you think that players in all tiers must step up?
– Yes, we were unable to play out even once against high pressure. You have to manage that if you want to take the next step. When you don’t manage to play your way past the first pressing link, you also don’t get connected in the central midfield, and you don’t get connected on the edges. When you just end up playing long balls on the tips that are wrong, it becomes difficult. If you want to take the next step, you must be able to manage matches for periods through your own game.
“Perry” says that it is only Haaland and Ødegaard who are so-called high-status players for their respective clubs. Solbakken has had something of the same: In June, there were several who enjoyed playing time at the club. This time both used a goalkeeper without a club, Ørjan Håskjold Nyland, and a centre-back, Leo Skiri Østigård, who has just one league match for Napoli.
– This is the tenth match ball we haven’t managed since 2000. It’s a damn shame, says «Perry».
– Men, when you meet teams that are better than us, like on Tuesday, you can’t do anything but take new thanks.
The next big challenges are the EC qualifiers next year. The groups are drawn on 9 October. Norway made it more difficult for themselves by not being seen at the level, something that is among the rewards of a group win.
– Of course seeding level is something other than seeding level three. If you are very unlucky with the draw, it will be a longer road, says «Perry».
Solbakken is convinced that he and Norway have not put the best of the team. After 22 years of championship strength, he is well aware that honorable results are not good enough. The only thing that will characterize Solbakken as a success is that he takes Norway to a championship. Everything else is failure. That’s how brutal it is.
– Remember that we have the youngest national team in Europe, and it will get better. We must be clearly better in some of the game’s faster. For example, we have more to go on in peace with ball. If we could rest a bit with the ball, then we would have more power in the second half, he says.
– We need that in the quite difficult defensive game I am trying to achieve with this team. We concede very few goals early on, but we get tired later in the games. When the head is unclear and the body struggles, then individual mistakes occur.
– We must become better at calming down when things go too fast. And we must manage to keep our organization throughout the match. We must be able to rest a bit with the ball, without renouncing our counterattack strength.
Solbakken believes the playing group has the mentality to fight back.
– It is a young group that is going to get better. We have leaders who are going to get better. And we have good management in the football association, which puts things right, he says.
– I think we are on the right track and am very strongly convinced that we will make it to the EC in Germany.