Former Follo FK and IL Hodd manager Hans-Erik Eriksen has been announced as the new Kongsvinger boss, taking over from Luis Pimenta who left the side after their impressive 2016 season. After a disappointing spell managing Hodd, Eriksen now faces the tough task taking over a team with extremely lofty ambitions, but is he the right man for the job?
Eriksen is best known for his stint as Follo manager from 2009 to 2015 where amongst other achievements, he led the Ski based side to their first ever cup final in 2010. His stint at Follo came to an end after the side suffered relegation to the 2.divisjon on the final day of the 2015 season. Despite this, he is still held in high regard by both former players and supporters of the side.
Eriksen is a charismatic man who knows what he wants from his players and is up front about it, there is no beating around the bush in his presence and it is this personality trait that draws respect from most players and staff with whom he has worked with.
For the 2015-2016 season Eriksen made the bold move to join Hodd, who had made the OBOS Ligaen promotion play offs the previous season. The move was met with a mixed reception from the Hodd fans who were unsure if Eriksen was the right man to lead them towards another promotion battle.
The job at Hodd was an uphill battle from the start. Hodd had lost key players such as Fredrik Aursnes and Aslak Falch before the season had begun and did not have the finances to replace them adequately. In addition to this, Eriksen had to contend with a board who were split in their approval of him as a coach as well as facing the daunting prospect of leaving his family in Oslo for long periods of time to travel to Hodd.
Eriksen lasted just 6 months as coach and was relieved of his duties on the 23rd of June having won just 4 of his 15 games in charge.
The job he now takes on with Kongsvinger is a significant step up. Kongsvinger reached a cup final and a promotion play off semi final last year and yet were still not satisfied, to say they are ambitious would be an understatement. Kongsvinger will surely be expecting to see themselves in the running for promotion come October.
Eriksen does however take over the Hedmark based side at a good time. Previous manager Luis Pimenta had taken Kongsvinger to new heights last season but left the side in good shape before leaving. The current Kongsvinger side is at the same kind of level Eriksen would have hoped his former Hodd team would have been at come the end of last season, this fact on paper should allow the new boss to hit the ground running.
The ‘Eriksen Way’ has been a hot topic in Norway since the former Follo boss took over at Hodd. Eriksen likes to see his teams keep a hold of the ball and play fast attacking football and it is a dynamic style of play that many coaches and pundits do not believe can work in Norwegian football. I remember speaking to Joacim Jonsson midway through Eriksen’s tenure at Hodd. Jonsson said that ‘Nice football was not the same as effective football’ and that if Hodd continued on the path Eriksen was leading them down, they would get relegated. This prophecy came true as Hodd were sent down under new boss Steinar Lein who took the reigns from Eriksen mid season.
@FRfotballBen Follo played nice football too… They are playing in second division this year…. Nice is not the same as effective..
— Joacim Jonsson (@Joacim_Jonsson) May 1, 2016
Eriksen was widely criticised for sticking to his guns when the system was clearly not working with the players he had at his disposal. Hodd simply could not afford Eriksen the time he needed to develop his methods and ideas and so the two year contract he had upon arrival was torn up prematurely.
At Kongsvinger, Eriksen will meet a group of players already accustomed to a similar style of play that was employed in both his previous stints as manager. Former boss Luis Pimenta was often compared to Pep Guardiola both in terms of how he set his team up as well as his appearance on the touchline and Eriksen is someone who has long been a subscriber to Guardiola’s way of playing. He is a man who loves ‘the beautiful game’ and wants his teams not just to replicate that, but to put their own spin on it.
“I have my way of playing, but we will develop our approach and explore new ideas all the time.” Said Eriksen to the Kongsvinger official site after his unveiling.
“We want to attack a lot and have the ball in the opponent’s half. We will recover quickly too. It’s about creating a spirit in the group that helps each other develop all the time.”
One thing that I am personally interested in is how Eriksen will set up his new Kongsvinger team. Previously, Eriksen has deployed a 3-5-2 formation as well as differing variations of a 4-4-2. Last season, former coach Pimenta was loyal to his 4-4-2 diamond for most of the season as it suited the players he has at his disposal. The next few weeks in the transfer market will be crucial for Eriksen and Kongsvinger as we start to see the new boss’ visions for this side come to the fore. If Eriksen wanted to play a 3-5-2, for example, then certain additions to the side must be made.
Developing young players has also been something that Eriksen is well renowned for. Martin Ellingsen, Dylan Murnane, Adrian Ovlien, Harald Holter and Martin Tangen Vinjor are all players that I am sure Eriksen is looking forward to working with. The good thing about the Kongsvinger side is that for every Ellingsen there is a Royrane and for every Ovlien a Richardsen, it is an almost perfect mix of youth and experience.
The appointment is clearly a big risk on Espen Nystuen and Kongsvinger’s part. Replacing Pimenta was never going to be easy but in Hans-Erik Eriksen they have someone ready to hit the ground running. To say that replacing Pimenta with Eriksen is ‘like for like’ would be naive but it is clear that the two managers do have many similarities in their approaches.
Kongsvinger will be an interesting side to follow this season. How will the players react to Eriksen’s management? Can they reach the same heights as last season? Can they beat the likes of IK Start and Bodo/Glimt to promotion? All of these questions will be answered at some point during this year. As for the question of whether Hans-Erik Eriksen is the right man for Kongsvinger? Then simply put, yes, he is. Whether that translates to points on the board and great performances on the pitch is yet to be seen but there is for sure no better man to take on this job at this time.
Eriksen is back in the OBOS-liga. Will he experience success in his new side, or will he end up like former FFK-coach Jan Halvor Halvorsen? (Photo: Digitalsport)