#7 – NAVIGATING NORWAY

Welcome back to Navigating Norway where we’ve just entered the year 2025 or as we’re calling it at Tromsdalen: The year European football came to the municipality of Tromso! Unfortunately for you — the reader — you’ll see no European action from us in this update as we’re in February and the halfway point of the season is in July, days before the UEFA Europa Conference League begins. But do not fear, there is actually some HUGE news involving Norway on both the European AND World stage.

Before we get to that though we have a gruelling pre-season to get through and many new signings to talk about. To top that off we have had a pretty horrendous league campaign — all will be explained as you read on. We begin with the news that Fredrik Solskjaer has had his request to take on another coaching course denied. The reason? Because he would have too much time away from the pitch. Fuming.

Away from that, I guess we should talk about what targets we have for the season ahead. You’ll soon see that the squad has been strengthened massively and that includes the deals we did in the previous transfer window which you can read about here. The league is something we cannot realistically aim for yet — in the next 3/4 years perhaps though, yes — so we’ll stick to our aim of a mid-table finish and a good run in the Norwegian FA Cup. In Europe, I hope to make the group stages of the UEFA Europa Conference League but depending on who we face in the qualifiers our journey could be over before it even gets going. Still, we aim high as always. Let’s jump into it.

PRE-SEASON REVIEW 2025

During the back end of last season, I had already begun planning for this transfer window. I had shortlisted seven players and luckily I was able to bring ALL of them in. We brought them all in for a combined total of £150k — which was fantastic. They’re not the best of players but they all improve us immensely, as well as having high key attributes for their positions. We spent the least out of everyone with Bodo/Glimt topping the spending with £10.25m — I could only dream of having a budget that big.

The players that joined us was goalkeeper Mathias Eriksen Ranmark, defenders Marius Hoibraten, Vetle Skjaervik, Stian Ringstad and midfielders Magnus Lundal and Markus Karlsbakk. All Norwegian of course.

We won 80% of our friendlies with 8 wins in 10 and we played some decent opposition too. We drew with Danish champions Aalborg 3–3 whilst we beat Austria’s Rapid Wien 2–1. We were beaten 2–4 by Swedish big-hitters Malmo, but we did lead twice going into the final ten minutes. We scored 34 over the 10 fixtures. Scoring becomes a problem for us sometimes so it’s good to see we’re on fire going into the season.

During our pre-season preparations we faced Molde in the Mesterfinalen — Norway’s super cup/community shield — where once more we failed to score against them in 90 minutes. This is the fifth time we have played them and we are yet to breach their backline. You’ll remember that when we lifted the Norwegian Cup last season it was done via a penalty shootout after a 0–0 draw. We lost 1–0 here in a shocking display, they had even forgotten how to pass to each other.

Overall though it was a good few months following the end of the 2024 season. The new faces have gelled in well, goals are flowing — apart from the Molde defeat — and I’m confident of a good season ahead. Our tactical approach has changed slightly as I’m beginning to move away from the 5–2–1–2 to a 4–3–3 but it is something that is still a work in progress. The 4–3–3 system allows us to play a much quicker game it seems but the solidity of the 5–2–1–2 I still very much prefer.

MID-SEASON REVIEW 2025

We started the season on the 6th of April 2025 and stayed unbeaten in the league all the way up until the 25th of May. Our unbeaten run before being defeated stood at 18 games, a spillover from the previous season. Our results were fantastic. We were scoring goals AND keeping clean sheets, something we had rarely done before but disappointing draws still continued. We had four 0–0 draws at the halfway stage of this season — all of which we were the better team.

Our unbeaten run saw us defeat Jerv 3–1, Sarpsborg 2–1, Stromsgodset 2–0 and Tromso 1–0 — combined with four draws at the time. In the Norwegian FA Cup, we had beaten Lorenskog 4–0, Finnsnes 3–0 and Mjolner 2–0. It was looking peachy for us. Then came the first defeat of the season.

Against Molde.

Before we played them though — unbeknownst to me — I saw a news item. Molde had only gone and won the UEFA Europa Conference League. I couldn’t believe it and reading it crushed my soul. Our plan of being the first Norwegian to lift a European Cup was gone. They had a surreal run to the final too as you’ll see in the screenshots. Their win — although brilliant for the nation’s coefficients had me raging with jealousy.

It was a few days after that the news came through about the UEFA coefficients and they were happy reading. Molde’s win and Norway’s success on the international stage were beginning to make a mark. From the 2026/27 season, Norway would have an extra Championship League place. The qualifying stages for both the Europa League and Europa Conference had changed also. Maybe I shouldn’t be so mad at Molde after all? Also, Norway’s U20’s — an almost identical squad that had won the U19 Euros — had lifted the World Cup. Incredible.

Where were we? Oh yes, Molde. They had no hangovers from their European triumph as they trounced us 1–3 on their own ground. We did finally find the net of course, for the first time against Molde, but it meant very little. This defeat then set us on our worst run of results since Fredrik Solskjaer took over. We lost 0–1 at Stabaek, 1–2 at home to Valerenga and then 1–4 away to Bodo/Glimt. It was truly horrific.

The Tromsdalen board did not utter a word though so we can assume we are safe for now. Our last three games before hitting the halfway stage of the league season saw two draws on the bounce — extending our winless run to six — before we picked up an emphatic 4–1 win away at Odds. Hopefully, that result will spark a resurgence in the club going into the second half of the season.

With the six-game winless run, we still manage to find ourselves in 6th as we come to the end of July but we could be 9 points behind Rosenborg in the European places by the time we next play. It looks as though our league season has been a failure but we have got ourselves into the Norwegian FA Cup semi-finals again where we’ll meet Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Roy Keane’s Lillestrom. The other tie will see Kristiansund take on Bodo/Glimt. Could we retain our crown perhaps?

When I return with the end-of-season review it’ll begin with Tromsdalen’s first taste of European football as we face Bulgaria’s Pirin Blagoevgrad in the UEFA Europa Conference League Path Second Qualifying Round. Hopefully, we won’t be falling at the first hurdle and can reach the group stages. We are currently £2,421,619 in the red so money is something we need to get our hands on as soon as possible.

See you next time.

Jamie | TarrantinoUX

Follow me on Twitter / Visit my Medium

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