WHY I AM WORRIED ABOUT RANHEIM...

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>After a tumultuous 2016 season Ranheim will be hoping for more stability both on and off the pitch in 2017. The side have lost many key players since last season came to a close and have looked down the divisions rather than up for their replacements. Despite this, the squad still looks a little thin and 2017 could prove troublesome for the Trondheim side.>

(Photo: DigitalSports)

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Manager Svein Maalen has the tough task of keeping Ranheim in the OBOS Ligaen this season. This is Maalen’s second year in management and to say the Ranheim job has been a baptism of fire for the former assistant of the side would be an understatement. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Having struggled to keep his side in the division last season in a year clouded by off field financial issues, the Winter of 2016/2017 saw key players such as Are Tronseth, Robert Stene and John Hou Saeter move on to pastures new. All three had been key to Ranheim last season, with the influences of Stene and Tronseth stretching back even longer. >

Maalen has looked down the divisions to find bargains and unearthed gems to replace the outgoings. Joakim Solem signed from Nardo, Mats Lillebo from Stjordals-Blink, Andreas Rye from Strindheim and Jacob Tromsdal from Rosenborg 2. My main qualm is that these players have not yet been tested at OBOS Ligaen level and did not particularly stand out in their respective divisions. It will be a big ask for these players to slot in seamlessly with this Ranheim side.

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Ranheim have had a relatively poor pre-season so far, losing 3 of the 4 games they have played. Admittedly, the matches against Ostersunds and Rosenborg were never ones the side would have singled out as potential victories but Ranheim were disappointing in their defeat to Orkla last week. Many first team players were left out of the squad for the game, but replacements such as Vegard Fiske, Karl Morten Eek and Jacob Tromsdal failed to live up to expectations.>

Svein Maalen said to the official Ranheim site;

«Today there were too many of us performing below par. We were generally poor in the basic things and toothless in both boxes.

We can certainly see what we hope to achieve in our game, but are being too dull to create the chances we need.»

Today, however, the side performed well to draw with a lethargic Kristiansund side. Ranheim went 2-0 up in the first half with goals from Gjertsen and Eggen Rismark before a Kristiansund comeback in the second half, Bamba and Mendy scored to secure a draw against the OBOS Ligaen side. Ranheim will be pleased with their display against last seasons’ OBOS Ligaen winners and Svein Maalen should come away from the game with a more positive outlook.

Aslak Witry of Ranheim, against Asane. (DigitalSports)

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Including the match against Kristiansund today, Ranheim have conceded 11 goals in their 4 pre-season games so far. Despite having many defenders on their books, only Daniel Kvande and Aslak Witry are capable in my eyes of standing out in the OBOS Ligaen. The side will struggle to bring in players of better quality right now due to their financial issues, but the selection of defenders currently in the Ranheim squad are simply not good enough to deal with most OBOS Ligaen sides’ impressive forward lines. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>The one area that Ranheim do not necessarily need any improvement in is the midfield. With Mads Reginiussen an ever present in the middle with Magnus Blakstad or Kristoffer Lokberg (when fit) partnering him, this has to be seen as the strongest part of the team. If Jacob Tromsdal can bring a similar quality to the side that John Hou Saeter did when he joined on loan from Rosenborg then he could also become a key man in the Ranheim midfield trio. Sondre Sorlokk and Simen Sandmael are good versatile options who can be brought in to make a difference if the side are struggling. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>When it comes to the attack, Oyvind Storflor and Torgil Gjertsen could be two of the most dangerous wingers in the division. The light of Storflor’s career is dimming, but he brings a quality to the OBOS Ligaen that is almost unrivalled having played nearly 400 games in the Eliteserien. Torgil Gjertsen is a player whom I rate highly. Despite the occasional dip in form, the winger is one of the best in the division at dribbling at and then beating his man, a great example of this can be seen in Ranheim’s 7-1 demolition of Fredrikstad in October. If Gjertsen can maintain a consistent level of form across the season he could well be lethal.>

Oyvind Storlor says his goodbyes to the Eliteserien. (DigitalSports)

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Ranheim play a traditional 4-3-3 formation relying on one striker to lead the attack and this is where a potential problem could lie for manager Svein Maalen in 2017. It is looking likely that Michael Karlsen will be offered a deal to join the club and whilst I am not opposed to this, I do not think Karlsen has what it takes to lead the Ranheim line for 30 league games. Karlsen’s last prolific season came in 2011 for Hodd when he managed 16 goals in 28 games. Since then, he has scored just 7 goals in 72 OBOS Ligaen games. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Karlsen can be a good squad option and offers a different outlet up front for the side if they so need. Ranheim also have Mats Lillebo and Georg Flatgard on their books who are capable of playing up front. Lillebo has scored goals in the 2.Divisjon but is untested at 1.Divisjon level and can be seen as a risky signing. Flatgard, like Karlsen, is a great option for Maalen to have at his disposal due to his adaptability but again not capable of leading the line and scoring 10+ goals in a season for the side. >

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>There are a few strikers who come to mind who could fill the hole in attack for Ranheim. One specifically could be Espen Standal. Standal suffered a bad injury after just 2 OBOS Ligaen games last season but had a great pre-season and looked sharp in his few minutes in the league for Ull/Kisa. The striker managed to score 21 in 26 the previous year and is now on trial at KFUM Oslo. For me, the potential signing would represent an upgrade on other forwards currently in the Ranheim side and although there is still an element of risk attached to the player I believe Standal has what it takes to score goals in the OBOS Ligaen.>

Espen Standal with former side Ull/Kisa (DigitalSports)

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>This is just one name that comes to mind. The reality is that Ranheim simply may not be able to afford to bring in any new players right now having signed so many already. The truth is that currently Ranheim’s squad does not look like one capable of challenging for the top 8 places in the OBOS Ligaen, the team will instead be likely fighting relegation or looking to achieve an acceptable mid table position.>

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style=»font-weight: 400;»>Ranheim’s is not the weakest squad in the league though, that is for sure. Players such as Barli, Reginiussen and Storflor are all brilliant footballers at this level and should lead the team to safety in 2017. A good start against Espen Olsen’s Strommen side on April 2nd will be essential, the side will want to start the season with confidence after an underwhelming pre-season so far. The worry around the club still remains but Ranheim will be hoping to prove everyone wrong and produce performances worthy of staying in the division this season.>