OBOS LIGAEN TEAM OF THE MONTH - MAY

It’s been a long month of football for most OBOS Ligaen clubs, with teams playing up to 8 matches in the last 4 weeks. Here’s the team of the month for May, based on players’ league form rather than a combination of league & cup.

Maikel Nieves of Kongsvinger has been invaluable for the side since his return to the XI. Here he is doing his best Slim Shady impression in La Manga. (Digitalsport)

(Photo: Digitalsport)

Goalkeeper – Even Barli (Ranheim)

My goalkeeper of the season for 2016 has been brilliant for most of the 2017 campaign so far, keeping 4 clean sheets in his 10 games and conceding just 8; the division’s best. May has seen Barli’s form improve further with great displays against Elverum and Fredrikstad, with his saves at times keeping Ranheim afloat in matches.

Molde were interested in the 25 year old in the Winter with rumors that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer wanted the Ranheim goalkeeper as his new number one and Barli’s performances this month will surely have attracted even more Eliteserien interest.

Arguably the most important player in this Ranheim side, there is no doubt Barli remains the division’s best in goal.

Right Back – Peder Nersveen (Elverum)

24 year old Nersveen is a natural in midfield but has filled in at right back so far this season due to the absence of Sogndal loanee Magnus Pedersen. Nersveen had admitted he was not a natural in the right back position but has certainly not looked out of place this last month.

Great performances against Ranheim and Arendal caught my eye this month with Nersveen getting up and down his flank extremely well, contributing heavily to both the offensive and defensive plays.

With the form Nersveen is in, it will be hard for Magnus Pedersen to force himself back into the starting XI. Nersveen fully deserves credit for a great month of football which has seen Elverum lose just once in the league and progress further in the cup.

Center Back – Tom Erik Nordberg (Levanger)

In a month that has seen Levanger concede just 3 times in their 5 OBOS Ligaen matches it is hard to ignore the influence of their 31 year old veteran defender.

2016 was tough for Nordberg, who was not an immediate started in Magnus Powell’s new look Levanger side but he forced himself into the manager’s plans as the season went on and once again became a mainstay of the side.

This May, Nordberg has gone from strength to strength and delivered consistently good performances for his side. There is no doubt now that Powell will find the player extremely hard to drop, with Per Verner Ronning on the cusp of a return.

Center Back – Eirik Wollen Steen (Asane)

Wollen Steen has been improving for Asane every year and having watched him grow with his club these last 3 seasons it is great to see him now wearing the captains armband and becoming a very key player for his side.

Mons Ivar Mjelde is clearly a fan and it is easy to see why. EWS leads the side with confidence and even though this Asane defence has shipped 7 goals in their 5 OBOS Ligaen games this month it could well have been a lot more were it not for their captain.

I’m sure there has been interest from the Eliteserien in EWS’s services but it is hard to see how the 23 year old can stay in the OBOS Ligaen much longer with his form continuing to improve. His height has always been a slight issue but there is no doubt all other aspects of his game right now could easily be transferred to Norway’s top tier.

Left Back – Alexander Foosnaes (Ranheim)

Ranheim’s defence as a unit have been excellent this season and in May it was very hard to ignore the likes of Christian Eggen Rismark and Daniel Kvande for a spot in this team of the month, but for me, Alexander Foosnaes is the one who has really stood out recently in the Ranheim back four.

Under Ola By Rise in 2015, Foosnaes was a bit part player to say the least, rarely starting and only occasionally making the bench. But, under new coach Svein Maalen he has been transformed from a left winger into a left wing back and this positional switch has done wonders for the players’ performances.

Foosnaes was good in 2016 but in 2017, especially in May, he has looked formidable on the left hand side. A great creative outlet with a sound defensive head too, Foosnaes is now certainly here to stay in this Ranheim XI.

Right Midfield – Daniel Aase (IK Start)

If you were watching Daniel Aase for the first time and did not know his name, there is no doubt you would ever think he was born & bred in Norway. With his brilliant technique and composure on the ball Aase is something rarely seen in this country.

Having begun the season on the outskirts of this IK Start side, he has made his way into the first XI since the end of April and can now be considered as a key player for the side. Aase is clearly better than most OBOS Ligaen players and has added an element of consistency to his game recently, scoring 2 and assisting 3 in his 9 matches for the side.

If Aase can keep up the level of performance he is currently showing, it will be hard for new signing Abubakar Aliyu to force his way into the side.

Center Midfield – Vegard Moberg (Bodo/Glimt)

Very close call between Moberg and his partner in midfield Mathias Normann here but Moberg just edges it as he has played in every minute of Glimt’s last 6 league matches in May.

Having been a defensive midfielder and even center back for most of his career so far, it was something of a shock to see him as the most advanced player in Glimt’s midfield trio but Moberg’s Marouane Fellaini-like posture and strength has served his side extremely well recently.

4 goals and 1 assist in May means he has to make the team of the month here. Whilst not the most pleasing on the eye, Moberg gets the job done and has been a great addition to this Glimt side this season.

Center Midfield – Marius Hagen (Elverum)

Marius Hagen is something of a journeyman already despite being just 24 years old but may have finally settled into something of a rhythm for new side Elverum.

Hagen has always possessed talent, but transferring that onto the pitch has not always gone according to plan. This season for Elverum, Hagen has become so key to the sides’ play that he has started all but one game for the side so far in 2017.

2 goals & 2 assists in his 9 league matches is impressive for a more defensive minded midfielder and if Hagen can continue on this path then he could well be in line for a big move come the end of the season.

Left Midfield – Espen Borufsen (IK Start)

Simply put, Borufsen has been miles better than any OBOS Ligaen player in May. 5 goals and 1 assist in his 6 matches in May is an exceptional output and Borufsen is going from strength to strength game on game.

A very classic winger with a brilliant left boot, similar to Trond Olsen of Bodo/Glimt in many ways, Borufsen has been at the heart of everything good Start have produced recently. He and Daniel Aase on the opposite flank have become indispensable to the side.

If Borufsen can continue his form of the last month there is no doubt he will make most, if not all, OBOS Ligaen team of the season’s come November.

Striker – Amahl Pellegrino (Mjondalen)

On his day, one of the most exciting forwards to grace the OBOS Ligaen. Off his day, one of the most frustrating. Luckily for most Mjondalen fans and myself, Pellegrino has been excellent throughout the 2017 season so far and having made my team of the month for April he more than deserves to also make the May team also.

Pellegrino only scored twice this month as opposed to 4 times in April but his all round play has been fantastic and he has proven to be a nightmare for every defence he has come up against. His performance against Sandnes in particular stands out, as the usually reliable Ulf back four struggled massively with his pace.

It was tough to choose between Pellegrino and his strike partner Ousseynou Boye for a spot in this team as Boye has now scored 7 in his 10 games, but for me, Pellegrino just about edges it having played in every game for his side this month.

Striker – Maikel (Kongsvinger)

Where would Kongsvinger be without their Spanish forward this month? Having not won in their opening 8 league games, the return from injury of Maikel Nieves could not have come at a better time and the side have won their last 2 league games with him in the side.

He may only have played 5 games in May, but Maikel managed a return of 4 goals and 3 assists, trumping every other forward in the league with his goal return. He almost took points for the side against Arendal and Sandnes, before playing a key role in the wins against Strommen and Floro, scoring a wonderful goal from inside his own half against Espen Olsen’s men.

The Kongsvinger revival has seemingly started and you can bet Maikel will continue to be a key figure in Hans-Erik Eriksen’s side for the rest of the season after his fantastic run of recent form.

Close, but no cigar…

Mathias Normann (Bodo/Glimt), Adnan Mohammad (Arendal), Julian Faye Lund (Levanger), Mads Hansen (Mjondalen), Ousseynou Boye (Mjondalen), Kent Eriksen (Sandnes), Mads Nielsen (Sandnes), Martin Ellingsen (Kongsvinger), Christian Eggen Rismark (Ranheim), Adria Mateo Lopez (Levanger).