He suffered one of his worst losses as a coach. The pressure increases on Ståle Solbakken after one of a possible nine points. Norway has not had a worse qualifying start since 1986.
– Nobody is protected as football coaches, says NRK football expert Bengt Eriksen when asked by VG.
Solbakken was brought in to take Norway to their first tournament since 2000, but it has been 37 years since the Norwegian national team last started qualifying worse.
In 1986, in the European Championship qualifiers two years later, Norway opened with one point from three games – and a goal difference of 0-5 in Tor Røste Fossen’s final bid to reach the tournament. Norway beat France 2-0 for fourth place, but finished last in a group that also included the Soviet Union, East Germany and Iceland.
Since then, the national team has started, through 17 EC and WC qualifications, under six different coaches, with better results than the Norwegian version of Solbakken.
– Drilo was not protected as a national team coach, but he won enough matches. Now Ståle hadn’t won enough matches to protect her. I still don’t think we have a better national team manager. But our best player was not at his best today, says Bengt Eriksen after watching the match in Ollevall.
The penalty kick taken by Erling Braut Haaland ended up pointless. Norway lost it all after two Scottish goals in 104 seconds in the dying minutes. On Tuesday, Cyprus comes to Olival.
Viaplay expert Lars Tjarnas is sure Solbakken is safe to work with.
– NFF just extended it and wants to experience it over time. But he has a very results-oriented job, and must be measured and weighed on three criteria: team selection, strategy selection, and match management along the way. The sum of the three should give good enough results and achievements over time – and in this sense it is clearly unprotected for long, wrote Tjærnås in a letter to VG.
– How long do you think he sits safe?
– It is always impossible to say. But because of the prestige he has in the National Football League and the pool of players, I would be surprised if he didn’t sit safely through these qualifiers and the start of the World Cup qualifiers until 2026,” Tiarnas replies.
– I think Solbakken’s situation is the same as before the match. He is the coach of the national team and he has just signed a new, longer contract. Ståle earned that qualification in the next qualifier, says Henning Berg, who worked for TV 2 in Ullevaal.
Solbakken recently signed a new contract for WC in 2026. But VG national team commentator Knut Espen Svegaarden believes Solbakken has had the same problems as Åge Hareide, Per-Mathias Høgmo and Lars Lagerbäck. All of them completed two qualifying matches without making it to the tournament.
“He signed a contract extension. But he’s not protected at all. Because this qualification start is simply too bad. Now – perhaps – another qualification is almost ruined before he starts for Norway,” wrote Svegaarden.
“The Norwegian men’s national team has not won important matches, not even under the leadership of Ståle Solbakken, and after a pathetic collapse of historical proportions, it is only necessary to gather at the bottom and turn the deck over again,” comments Erlend Nesje at Aftenposten.
Knut Espen Svegaarden believes that Ståle Solbakken has “redeemed itself with exit from the European Commission”.
– I see Ståle say the men were tired, and then he should tell them ‘You’re not tired, I suppose’. I’m not very fond of a lot of changes at the end. Bengt Eriksen says that upsets the balance in the team.
– I think he should have said, as in the old days, “get it out of you.” Because we don’t exchange three pieces now. But even with the three changes, I didn’t think I’d see what I saw, adds the NRK expert.
Ron Bratseth agrees, with the former national team captain sharply criticizing the triple switch of Erling Braut Haaland, Frederik Ursnes and Patrick Berg six minutes from time.
– We’ve all wondered why he made so many changes early on, Viaplay expert tells VG.
The reasons for the changes can be many, but when there are five new players on the field, most things stop, and that’s normal, says Pratseth.
– I think the substitutions came early in the sense that there were more than 10 minutes left with the additions. Then we know from experience that things can happen, he says and adds:
– And in this case, Haaland could not contribute anything else. We had to win this match. Ron Pratseth says I find it difficult to understand the way of thinking.
“Infuriatingly humble internet trailblazer. Twitter buff. Beer nerd. Bacon scholar. Coffee practitioner.”