It’s Baxter

Stuart Baxter has signed a two year contract to manage Finland, and will start his tenure with the senior squad’s trip to Cyprus next month. There was a bit of doubt over that, but I suppose once he decided to take the job there was no point in not going. It’s a first chance to impress Hyypiä and Litmanen, which sounds like a ridiculously arse-over-tit way to go about things. International football has certainly changed ‘since I were a lad’.

Here’s film of his press conference. Very impressive, I’ll say. He clearly sees the problem, that Finland made huge strides under Hodgson but couldn’t quite trouble the opposition enough, and he’s honest enough to say that his priority is to keep the resilience and it may not be possible to ‘open up more’. He’ll make that decision after working with the players.

According to Helsingin Sanomat he will live in Finland, which to my mind is a massive thing. Hodgson was here frequently enough, but if Baxter moves with the wife (and kids, apparently) , the chances of him getting a bit bored watching telly at home and heading out to a PK-35 game just for the sake of it increase somewhat. And he will therefore share that little bit more with the rest of the sad bastard population of Finland…

EDIT: According to Aftonbladet, he’s staying in Helsingborg. Never mind.

Given that Baxter’s Dad is Scottish, it is a little bit unfortunate that Perparim Hetemaj has declared he doesn’t want to play football in that fine, violent, heart disease-ridden land right now. Way to shoot yourself in the foot there, Perpa, but who knows? Baxter has already said he will talk to Hyypiä and Litmanen about their futures ASAP, maybe a word with Hetemaj could yield a change of heart.

He voiced no opinions on individual players, apart from the two big names who ‘exert a massive influence on the squad’, so it’s a good opportunity for the players who are going to Cyprus for games against Poland next Saturday and greece on the Wednesday. Here is the squad (those with a # will only play against Greece, Mika Äaritalo has pulled out due to injury):

Henri Sillanpää, VPS

# Peter Enckelman, Cardiff City

Jani Viander, HJK

Toni Kallio, BSC Young Boys

# Toni Kuivasto, Djurgårdens IF

Juha Pasoja, Ham Kam

# Ari Nyman, FC Thun

Toni Järvinen, Tampere United

Markus Halsti, GAIS

Hannu Patronen, FC Honka

Heikki Pulkkinen, FC MyPa

# Teemu Tainio, Tottenham Hotspur FC

# Mika Väyrynen, PSV Eindhoven

# Markus Heikkinen, SK Rapid Wien

# Daniel Sjölund, Djurgårdens IF

# Roman Eremenko, Udinese Calcio

Mika Ääritalo, TPS

# Alexei Eremenko jr, FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast

# Mikael Forssell, Birmingham City FC

# Jonatan Johansson, Malmö FF

# Jari Litmanen, –

Tuomo Könönen, Odd Grenland

Kari Arkivuo, Sandefjord Fotball

Roni Porokara, FC Honka

Jussi Kujala, Tampere United

Tuomas Haapala, HJK

Ville Taulo, HJK

Juho Mäkelä, Heart of Midlothian FC

# Veli Lampi, FC Zürich

Toni Lehtinen, FC Haka

Mikko Innanen, FC Haka

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13 Responses

  1. Where’s everyone from Tampere United? I think it’s a bit weird that Niemi, Pohja and Petrescu don’t seem to get their chance in the international games. Or Juska Savolainen whose great performances took him to Rosenborg!

  2. I would have said that Pohja and Niemi are getting on a bit, and they want to try out new players, but there seem to be quite a few 2-3 cap wonders there who have been tried and tested and weren’t good enough.

    Savolainen is a glaring omission, as is Cheyne Fowler, but Finland are pretty well stocked with tidy midfielders right now.

    I don’t know enough about the other players selected to slag them off really, but there is a preponderance of HJK players and former HJK players. Who picks these squads? I mean, leaving out the player of the season from the champions of the Finnish league, who has just had a big money transfer…… well, it beggars belief.

    I think this is quite important really. Hodgson was brought in to manage a group who were self evidently the best players in the country, and the fringe players weren’t that important. Now we’re in a new era though, and Baxter will need to bring at least a few players on.

    He’s a new coach, and should surely be bringing a new pair of eyes, but will the old fellas hanging around in their tracksuits get the boot and be replaced by Baxter’s men? it will be interesting to see what happens.

  3. Egan, is Toni Järvinen the guy who ran the show for Tampere when I saw them out there with you?

    As for Cheyne Fowler – on the evidence of the two games I saw, I wouldn’t put him anywhere near an international side. I know two games isn’t much to measure any player, but the opposition were hardly world-class and if he was going to shine it should hacve been in those two games against Carnmarthen.

  4. I think so, yeah. He’s been excellent recently. If he was left footed he’d probably already be a regular for the senior side.

    As for Fowler, he has been very good domestically. He was found out a bit in Europe, and I think Rhyl were very good at winding him up, but if he can handle Italian midfielders he might be worth a shout. Never gonna be a regular, but should be around the fringes imo.

    Savolainen is different: he showed glimpses of real class last year. He dominated games and if he can become a regular at Rosenborg he will be pressing hard for inclusion. I’m sceptical of the benefit of players who are very good, but don’t play regularly, so it would be good to get some more competition in the squad.

    If I were you I wouldn’t be too worried if Finnish selections don’t change fairly soon.

  5. Of course … it was Rhyl he faced not Carmarthen – sorry, my mistake! (and my terrible typing above too!!)

  6. Ah, early rounds in Europe. Great memories. Looks like Llanelli and TNS this year from the league, who do you fancy for the cup? And which cup gets the UEFA place, Welsh premier or FAW?

  7. According to Iltalehti.com midfielder Mikko Manninen from FC Haka is joining the team, as Mikko Innanen has an injured leg. So… Still no Savolainen, not Juska nor Vili.

  8. I suppose Huttunen wants a few familiar faces around.

  9. It’s the Welsh Cup which gets the Uefa place – the FAW Premier Cup is just a BBC made up competition as a way of getting tv coverage of Cardiff, Swansea and Wrexham!

    I fancy Bangor for the cup as long as they get past Aberystwyth on Saturday.

  10. Big derby at Park Avenue, I hadn’t noticed. Naturally I’m supporting Aber, who seem to have been maddeningly inconsistent this year.

  11. Hi : enjoy the site very much, can I pick your brian about a couple of matters. There’s a reference to Perparim Hetemaj not wanting to play in Scotland because of the Thomson tackle in the u21 game – was there some chance of him playing here that I’ve missed?
    Also, have you heard anything about Finland playing Scotland in a friendly? Scotland say they’re playing an away game in late May, but nothing concrete has been decided. Some rumours it will be against Finland, but maybe that’s the Baxter factor.
    Regards
    Kenny, Glasgow

  12. Sent you an email. I didn’t follow the hetemaj story closely, but I think he said very early on that he didn’t want to play. Not sure about the other thing, but I reckon SPL would be disappointed if they don’t get a money spinning game against Sweden before the European Championships.

  13. […] really hope Stuart Baxter is more attentive than previous Finnish managers (and journalists, apparently): “He (my […]

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