Tonny Brochmann was confirmed yesterday as a new signing for Eliteserien club Stabaek. On the face of it, this looks like a good deal for the side who have acquired one of the best players in the OBOS Ligaen, but in reality the deal represents a big gamble for Stabaek. I take a look at both the positive and negative aspects of this signing and try to determine whether the Danish midfielder will fit in well with his new side.
(Photo: Digital Sports)
Read more here: Brochmann ready for league club
Brochmann clearly had a great 2016 season for FK Jerv, being nominated for the OBOS Ligaen player of the year award having scored 9 and assisted 7 goals throughout the campaign. The Dane was originally signed as a winger, to play in a three pronged attack of himself, Ulrik Berglann and Dennis Antwi but ended up flourishing at the tip of a three man midfield. The sheer quality of his output this season came as a surprise to most casual viewers as Brochmann had been very underwhelming in the 2015 season for Sandnes Ulf, only managing 1 goal and 4 assists in 23 appearances.
Having seen every Jerv game this year, the evolution of his style of play has been great to watch. Tonny always looked like he could play as an attacking midfielder but has generally been forced out onto the wing in previous seasons due to his dribbling ability. This season, he has looked a totally different footballer and has added many new dimensions to his game. His passing ability has drastically improved and his shooting is now better than ever. If Tonny has the ball just outside the opposition box, you know there will be danger.
There are two standout performances that will live long in the memory from this year. The first was during Jerv’s 1-0 defeat of Fredrikstad at the start of June. This was the first time I really saw Brochmann flourish as an attacking midfielder, he was both the attacking outlet when Jerv came on the break and the first forward player to get back to help out defensively when the opposition were attacking. Despite an injury in the second half he almost single handily won the game for Jerv.
The second standout performance was against Hodd just 2 weeks later. Jerv won the game 5-1, with Tonny scoring one and assisting two. It is rare in the OBOS Ligaen to see a player grab a game by the scruff of the neck and completely dominate play, I personally have only seen it happen a handful of times, but Tonny did exactly that and ran the show from his perch at the tip of Jerv’s midfield. His ability to move with the ball and create space for others is unrivalled in the league.
Tonny Brochmann (right) has achieved remarkable development since he joined the Wolverines in winter. This does not guarantee continued success in the Premier League, according to our expert. This is from the fight against FFK at La Manga. (Photo: Digital Sports)
Stabaek have adopted a similar variant of the 4-3-3 formation FK Jerv used last season and so Tonny should have no trouble adapting to their style of play. The only issue is the competition, as it is unlikely that Brochmann will walk straight into the XI with a handful of players already queuing up for a spot either on the wing or in the midfield three. The other issue is that Brochmann would more than likely be pushed into a role out wide rather than through the middle. The same thing happened to former Jerv man Ohi Omoijuanfo this season, as he drifted from the wing, to attacking midfield and then to attack. It was quite clear from this season that Brochmann’s talent truly lies as an attacking midfielder and I would hope that this is where Stabaek intend to use him.
Ohi’s is a good case study to compare with, as he and Brochmann shared similar paths on their way to Stabaek. Both men played in the Tippeligaen for a few seasons before dropping down a level. Brochmann had played 55 matches in the Tippeligaen between 2011 & 2014 but only once did he manage over 20 games in a season, scoring 5 in 25 games. Both men then excelled at OBOS level, with Ohi winning player of the year after a scintillating 2015 season. Brochmann however, had a poor year at Sandnes in 2015, but was then nominated for player of the year in 2016.
The struggles of Ohi have been well documented this year. Despite a brilliant end to the season and saving Stabaek from the drop, he was largely below par and failed to replicate any of the brilliant form that he showed for Jerv the previous season. This could be put down to a number of things; his confidence, the constant switching of positions or even the clash with Cole Grossman at the start of the year that saw the American miss out on a crucial part of the season with a head injury. Whatever the reason, it clearly has not worked out for Ohi this year but at just 22 years of age he still has a lot of time left to get it right.
Ohi Omoijuanfo was the big hero for Stabæk after a tough period with little playing time and low performance in years. Now predicts Ben Wells that Tonny Brochman faces many of the same challenges that the tip did when he arrived Nadderud (Photo: Digital Sports).
At 27 years old, Tonny does not have age on his side anymore. Whilst he should still have 7 or so seasons left in the tank as a professional footballer, this move really could be his last shot at succeeding for a top tier Scandinavian side. There was interest from Denmark at the end of this season, but it says a lot about Brochmann’s character that he wants to succeed in the Eliteserien rather than heading home to a second tier Danish side. Personally, I would have liked to have seen Tonny stay for another season at Jerv and prove that he can perform to a high standard in back to back seasons. The gap between the Tippeligaen and the OBOS Ligaen is becoming increasingly large with many great OBOS players failing to make the step up to Norway’s top tier.
The issue is that with the lack of ‘proper scouting’ taking place in the top division, teams will always be more likely to look to the second tier for cheap gems who could come good at a higher level. It is a risky strategy and ultimately one that has seen the quality of both divisions decrease dramatically in recent years. Tippeligaen sides will happily sign up ‘one season wonders’ from the OBOS Ligaen and hope they come good, as ultimately, it is a no risk strategy. If the player doesn’t perform well then they can always send them back to the second tier the next year.
This shouldn’t be interpreted as me taking issue with Brochmann as a footballer, for the record, I think he is an excellent player and someone that has always had the quality to play Tippeligaen football. I am happy that he has got his big move after an excellent season, but also worried that one below par year would mean he could be immediately discarded by Stabaek. As mentioned above, at 27 years old he won’t be afforded the amount of leniency 22 year old Ohi has been given. Stabaek will be expecting instant results.
Taking a neutral prospective, I can understand why this signing could be seen as underwhelming for Stabaek. After the excitement of Bob Bradley and the signings he made, to see the club go back to simply snapping up the best OBOS talents rather than scouting the world for gems in other countries could easily be seen as a backwards step. Will Brochmann play a part in Stabaek reaching the same heights as the Bradley era? Probably not, but Brochmann is a good option to have on your bench at this level.
As much as I like to see the best OBOS Ligaen performers get their big moves to Tippeligaen sides, on the whole they do not work out as clubs expect and I can see Brochmann’s signing going the same way as Ohi Omoijuanfo’s. I would hope that Brochmann is afforded more than one year to impress the powers that be at Stabaek but the reality is that he needs to perform well immediately or be let go at the end of the season.