Finnish midfielders have a busy week, and RoPs get some good news

This was originally a post about Juska Savolainen and Teemu Tainio both having a good week, but then I had a look at Ilta Sanomat and saw that RoPs have got their licence for next season!!

This is very surprising. Jan Walden put the likelihood at less then 5% not so long ago, and it did rather seem as if their hard work on the field would go to waste. As it is, they will have to improve the floodlights by the 24th of August or face a €75,000 fine. The media facilities, spectators toilets and first aid facilities will have to be upgraded by the 30th of April or they will pay €20,000.

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Silly season update: TamU best in Norden and Jari Litmanen on trial at Fulham

A group of German statisticians have decided that Tampere United are the 87th best club in the world. here’s the obligatory list of clubs TamU are now officially ‘better than’:

Ajax, VFB Stuttgart, Lanus (Clausura champions, lest we forget), FC Copenhagen, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Sparta Prague, Red Star Belgrade, Newcastle United, Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City, Ason Villa, and every other club in the world except for 86 lucky entities.

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Mehmet Hetemaj signs for Panionos

Well that’s about it really. A three and a half year contract with a middling team, he’s the younger brother of Perparim who is currently at AEK, who are top of the league at the moment. If they can stay there and break the dominance of Olympiakos, that’ll be some achievement.

As for Mehmet, well. If HJK had all these great players last year (Sorsa, Savolainen, Hetemaj), why were they so rubbish? I didn’t see much of him but he looked skillful and lightweight. If he’s lightweight under Finnish tackling conditions, God knows what he’ll be like abroad. He will at least learn how to dive properly.

In other news, the world of Tampere football has become slightly more integrated. TPV have signed a contract to be Tampere United’s farm club, which now leaves no senior team without a link of some kind with Tamu. I’ll post more on this later in the week, it is quite intriguing really.

Ville Lehtinen, comeback king

Former Pori Jazz, Tampere United, Ac Oulu (and many more) striker Ville Lehtinen is going to be on TV tonight. Ville has found a new career as his footballing days draw to a close, and he will be singing on TV2’s Tartu programme tonight at 9pm.

If it’s the programme I think it is, it is derived from one of Channel 5’s more watchable early efforts, which was fronted by Suggs and used Z list celebrities to sing karaoke. It often seems as though all TV in the world is derived from the UK. The Finnish version has stepped it up a gear, and Lehtinen’s appearance is obviously a call to arms against the ‘Barry from Eastenders’ celebrity culture: only the best will do for Tartu.

Recommended viewing.

Quick update

Martti kuusela replaces Mixu at TPS. That’s a bit of a turn-up, he’s been out of work since 2005 and best known (to me at least) as a pundit. He’s quite highly regarded though, and it is a statement of intent from TPS that they won’t be deflected by Mixu’s departure. I think next year will be very interesting, and I do hope TPS do well.

Cheyne Fowler has signed for Avellino. I like the guy, he has a big heart, a good engine and he gets all over the place, but my Welsh scouts have described him as ‘a lanky whicnging streak of piss’ and he has a sense of righteous injustice that may not play too well in Serie B. If he can stay out of trouble with the referees I reckon he’ll be a success. He’s in a bit of a relegation scrap and there are other problems for him to adjust to off the pitch, but he deserves his chance and i hope he takes it.

The worst kept secret in Kotka is out, and Teemu Pukki has officially signed for Sevilla. We’ve covered this before, but all that remains is to say good luck. He’s signed a 3.5 year contract and will play in the reserve squad.

Mixu Pääteläinen goes to Hibernian

Well there’s a turn-up. He’s got himself a four and a half year contract, which probably played a big role in his decision, but it’s hard to see what he can do there. John Collins left because of a lack of funds, and the Old Firm will always dominate Scottish football: Mixu can finish a creditable third and have a little run in Europe, but no more. At TPS he would have had the biggest budget in the league and every chance of cementing some kind of dominance. Hibs is more of a poisoned chalice, but then a long contract offers a lot of security at British manager’s wages.

This leaves a vacancy at TPS, and Keith Armstrong is out of work. That’s probably that, although other contenders include Martti Kuusela, Pasi Rautiainen and (whisper it) Harri Kampman. Kampman would cost a lot in wages, but the wouldn’t be a problem for Tepsi. He is something akin to the Harry Redknapp of Finnish football, sometimes making inexplicable signings of dubious benefit to his club and sometimes pulling rabbits out of hats.

I hope they get a decent manager in though, TPS are vital to Finnish football. A well funded club playing in a great stadium should be successful: and if they fail, what hope is there for everyone else?

Further transfer news is that Roman Eeremenko will stay at Udinese, according to Jakobstads Tidning. Gazetta dello Sport had reported that he’d be loaned to Ravenna, but that isn’t a goer according to Eremenko pere.

EDIT-a big thanks  to all the people who pointed out to me that Mixu’s move might not be entirely career or money related, as his wife and three children still live in Scotland.

January transfer window

There are some weird goings on, I must say. Firstly, Sorsa to Leeds. I never thought he was much good, but then HJK were in disarray last year and Eusebio would probably have found it difficult to show his best form there. I would say good luck to him, but he signed for Leeds, didn’t he?

Then there’s Jussi Jääskeläinen. I asked him about his plans before Christmas, and of course he said nothing of note. My own personal opinion is that he’ll stay at Bolton if they offer him a decent contract and no really big clubs come in for him, but if they offer nothing or he gets a good offer he’ll be off. Bolton haven’t offered anything yet, and there is speculation about Barcelona, so it could yet become interesting. His family is settled in the North-west though, so it would take a massive offer to uproot him.

Then we have the strange case of Vili Savolainen. He signed a contract with Tampere United, but has since been on trial at Leeds and is now training with Reading. I’d be astonished if he went there, but stranger things have happened. It’d be a nice profit for TamU as well.

Juska Savolainen has also been on trial, at Vicenza and now Rosenborg. He went to Vicenza with Berat Sadik, but is alone in the Canaries with the oily fishermen.

One of the things about Finland is the sheer number of players they have playing abroad. I got an FC Zwolle shirt for Christmas (yes, really), but unfortunately Petri Oravainen has now left the club and returned to HJK.

Then you have guys like Paulus Roiha, who has bobbed about middling Dutch clubs and is now at Újpest FC in Hungary. Finno-Ugric solidarity aside, that’s a weird one isn’t it? It does make Finnish football fans rather cosmopolitan folk, scouring the internet for news of their best and brightest.

Which brings me to Umeå FC. Erik Sandvärn moved there in a coaching role from IFK Mariehamn, and has been picking up bargains from Veikkausliiga ever since. They play in Division 1 North in the Swedish pyramid, ie the third tier, but still offered enough to tempt Jesper Törnqvist from FF Jaro and Tarmo Koivuranta from AC Oulu. Törnqvist has signed a two year contract, but Koivuranta has hit problems.

His girlfriend has a job in Finland, and so he was reluctant to move. And now Umeå coach Håkan Bäckström says that ‘it’s difficult to speak to him on the phone, because he doesn’t speak particularly good English or Swedish.’

Håkan, mate: everyone in Finland speaks Swedish and English. If they refuse to do so, it might be a sign of something….

This seems like a good a time as any to tell the Finnish joke I managed to translate from a book called ‘Finn Jävel’, a compendium of jokes that Swedes (apparently) like to tell about Finns. Here goes:

A judge asks a Finnish defendant ‘so why did you stab that man?’

Finnish defendant thinks about the question for a while, sighs, looks remorseful and says ‘well, it all happened so quickly. I really didn’t have time to go and fetch the axe.’