From Cowdenbeath to Togo, Veikkausliiga recruitment goes on….

The Finnish season will be starting in a couple of weeks, and it’s about time to look at who the runners and riders might be. Veikkausliiga teams have had the usual turnover of players as some leave to seek their fortune in richer leagues or clubs and some return having tried their luck elsewhere. It seems like champions Tampere United will once again be the team to beat, having built a formidable squad and looking impressive in pre-season. Antti Pohja has returned from HJK, and will have a job winning over the fans, but if he hits form all (or at least some) will be forgiven. Tampere just released their accounts for last year and the Championship came at a price-they lost nearly 300,000EUR in 2006.

HJK will be right up there again, as they should be. It will be interesting to see how Kabba Samura integrates with the rest of the team, and if he lives up to the potential he showed in Championship Manager 2000-2001. I’m guessing not, as he’s in Finland, but it will be interesting all the same. Ghazi and Zeneli have re-signed and will be key to HJK’s hopes, as will the old warhorse Mika Nurmela.

In the rest of the league there have been some interesting dealings. MyPa have acquired a Togolese midfielder who went to the 2006 World Cup. Kuami Agboh isn’t one of the biggest names in world football, but he has cost a fair bit of money in Finnish terms and is what Americans might call MyPa’s ‘marquee player’. And he is already injured. In ten years at Auxerre he’s played 76 times, not counting loan spells. It seems to me he is the archetypal foreigner in Finland-he can either use this as a springboard for his career, like Marcus Gayle did at KuPs, or he could sink without trace, take the pay packet and enjoy his Finnish summer. We’ll see how it pans out.

Perhaps the biggest coup is TPS’s capture of Mixu Paatelainen as coach. There were rumours he would get a crack at one of the SPL clubs before he signed for TPS, but the lure of a Finnish summer was too strong. His presence probably ensured TPS managed to sign his brother, who used to have one of the finest mullets in Veikkausliiga. It was still intact when TPS were thrashed 4-0 at Pirkkahalli in February, but distressing publicity photos from the TPS website show young Mikko with an archetypal footballer’s do.

TPS should improve, with or without the mullet. Mixu doesn’t seem like the kind of man to come back for midtable mediocrity, but the budget can be very important in Finland so it might not be in his hands. Not just in terms of recruiting, but also hanging onto players throughout the season-the European transfer window is open for nearly half the Finnish season, and clubs can be devastated by raids from the big(ger) leagues.

2 Responses

  1. Hey, Egan. How about an entry about the finnish malewhores? The topic about finns supporting a foreign team seems to be red hot issue for the fans at the moment.

  2. This is quite interesting to me, yeah. I much prefer going to games than watching on the TV, because of all the extra stuff the cameras don’t pick up. And English football is on the verge of a big demographic problem.

    My team, Sheffield Wednesday, have just announced their prices for next season. The cheapest tickets will be £21, or 30euro. So for the cost of two matches at wednesday, I could get a Tampere United season ticket.

    This means that people take football far too seriously, as they’ve coughed up so much money, and makes going to the game a very big decision. It shouldn’t be difficult for a parent to take their kids to the game, but at Wednesday it is now. And young people are priced out too, with the inevitable negative effect on atmosphere.

    So paying all that money for second division football, getting told to sit down and not drink anything? People won’t do it forever.

    I can see why people watch football on TV, but it’s completely different to going to games in my opinion. And once people lose the habit they won’t recover it easily.

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