Commentary: Now Solbakken is using his madness

Commentary: Now Solbakken is using his madness

Key player: Erling Braut Haaland, here with national team manager Stahl Solbakken.

ULLEVAAL STADION (VG) “It has 10 percent madness in it.” The quote came from Dane Ståle Solbakken worked with during his time at FC Copenhagen. The Dane believed that this is what separates Solbakken from many other good football coaches, in bringing players with them.


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Solbakken badly needs that ability when Erling Braut Haaland appears for the national team meeting in Oslo on Tuesday.

– I’ve never won a treble, so I don’t know how you deal with that, said Ståle Solbakken while smiling brightly at Monday’s press conference at Ullevaal Stadium.

No, Solbakken hasn’t won The Treble, but he’s gone through many demanding events in his life. He was even “died” – for seven minutes of his life.

It won’t get any more difficult than that.

If there is anyone who can bring out, with the help of a mixture of humor and madness, even a small percentage of Erling Braut Haaland, it is Ståle Solbakken.

The questions, 80 per cent of them, were (of course) about Erling Braut Haaland at the first press conference, about how Solbakken will be able to lift, motivate and get the last of Haaland’s lemons – before Norway’s biggest star finally gets a full day off.

It can be very critical quickly.

There can quickly be a fine line between EC and non-EC here. And everyone knows that the rest and sharpness of Erling Braut Haaland increases the odds of Norway beating Scotland on Saturday night at Ullevaal.

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No one knows if, or how long, the 22-year-old who just hit The Treble during a 60-game season manages to find what little is left in the tank – just when his season winds down in many ways the culmination of lifting the League Cup. Champions and celebrate with family, friends, colleagues and fans.

It must be a violent discharge, even for a professional athlete to the tip of his toes, who has lived ascetic for a year now—finally able to celebrate, let alone think.

But he had two football games left, just two, just another week – and then it was over. The two matches, for the sporting nation of Norway, are correspondingly very important. It may soon be decisive whether Norway takes part in its first men’s football tournament since the year Erling Braut Haaland was born (2000).

And there is no doubt that Erling Braut Haaland wants to help Norway, he wants to play in the 2024 European Championship with Norway, and also to show himself on the largest arenas of the national teams. But no one knows how much he can afford. In any case, I think it would be wise to let him finish the ceremony, and not force him to go home early. Solbakken knows this, he knows what’s right.

And the task does not start until after Braut Haaland arrives at the hotel in Nydalen on Tuesday. This is when it matters, form is negligible, physically, after everything he’s been through this season. What matters is the mental thing.

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This is where Ståle Solbakken should come in with all his madness and his sense of humor, Haaland being lifted with him in the last week before they could cut ties completely, forget about football for a few weeks, and do completely different things.

And then, perhaps, Solbakken can get some of the results that Erling Braut Haaland has hidden in recent weeks – he has had only one result in the club’s last eight matches.

Then he has a little more to go on – for Norway.

we hope.

Comments: VG’s Knut Espen Svegaarden.

Najuma Ojukwu

Najuma Ojukwu

"Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner."

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