At the end of the A S-Tog line on the Copenhagen Metro you will find a sleepy town called Farum. The 18,000 locals here are proud of their identity as Farumese and not Copenhagenites, with a huge spread of different nations immigrants making up more than half of the population. Here it is still frowned upon to wash your car on a Sunday, play football in the street or walk on the cracks in the pavement. The small town centre is dotted with trees and wouldn’t look out of place in a Danish Trueman Show. Yet if you carry on walking down Ryttergårdsvej from the train station you will eventually arrive at Farum Park, home to the new Danish champions, The Wild Tigers of FC Nordsjælland.
Whilst Montpellier’s title in France may have been a shock to many, FCN’s SuperLiga title must rank up there as one of the greatest achievements in European club football. Next season the club, who average less than 5,000 fans at Farum Park could very well find themselves having to make arrangements to host the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City or Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.
Thanks to the progress made by the domestic dominators FC Copenhagen in the Champions League, Denmark had gained direct access to the Group Stages of the competition next season as the 13th best ranked country in club football. FCK fans must have been rubbing their hands in delight as the UEFA cash would allow them to dominate the game even further. But then came the next step in the development of a project started back in 2003 by local businessman Allan Pedersen.
With the 2010/11 season coming towards an end in England, attentions turn once again to the Nordics for my regular fix of football. Denmark still has a few rounds of matches left although in the Superliga there is only pride to play for after FCK wrapped up the league two weeks ago. That and second spot, which this season sees the Danes steal a Champions League qualifying place from the Scots. With five games to go three teams were still in with a shout including Brøndby, who if anyone could do with a slice of luck it was them.
And what better way to move a step closer to a place amongst Europe’s elite than a win against bitter rivals and champions FCK in El Vidunderlig Classico or the New Firm. After the “fuss” of the last encounter between the two teams where the Brøndby fans had boycotted the match at Parken when they were told they would be fingerprinted to try and avoid causing trouble in the stadium, this game promised a bit of a calmer atmosphere. Still, it was one not to miss so I headed out to Copenhagen a day earlier than normal to see if it could match the intensity of the Stockholm derby from last month.
But before any main event you need a warm up act. Whilst Brøndby had arranged for “Outlandish” to play live on the pitch before the game, one look at the dodgy outfits had me reaching for the good old crystal football to see if there were any other options. And of course once the mist cleared there was the perfect option. Of course, why didn’t I think of it earlier, BK Avarta v Frederikssund IK from the Danish 2nd Division East, kicking off at 1pm, a 30 minute walk away from the Brøndby stadium. Continue reading
Continuing our discussions with our 3 FCK fans about their dominance in the Danish game.
Do you think that the departure of Solbakken next year will have a big effect on the side?
IP -Very tough question, and shying away from answering I would say: It certainly depends on who replaces him. However, I have, as my previous answers should indicate, a strong faith in the management and I think they would only get someone in who would fit into the long term strategies for the club. They would of course have their own style and methods, and in the job they will get a lot of tactical and operational freedom, but strategy is everything. So the answer must be, that I don’t think it will have a big effect.
CA - Inevitably. Solbakken leaves at the end of the season to take charge of the Norway national team in 2012, and it’s going to have a huge impact on FCK. The coach has been far and away the key figure in the team’s recent success, and it’s testament to his tactical acumen that Copenhagen put in such impressive European performances. Solbakken’s usual formation is 4-4-2, but he’s not a manager who imposes a dogmatic philosophy on his sides, and FCK are eminently capable of switching systems between and during games. This was particularly evident in the Champions League, where only in one game – away to Rubin Kazan – did Solbakken clearly get some tactical decisions wrong. In my opinion, he’s establishing himself as one of the finest emerging coaches in Europe.
CW - It’s hard to say. I think it would be different if it happened one day to another. Everybody knows that Solbakken is out after this season – at least as things are right now, rumours are beginning to circulate – but of course it will be difficult. But Solbakken has made it very clear that he intends to hand over a side with a lot of possibilities so that the work he’s done can be continued.
Is there a frustration that the club sold out for the game versus Barcelona yet for normal league games there are thousands of empty seats?
IP – Yeah, some fans are frustrated. Fans attend games for some of the same reasons and also for different reasons. Personally, as long as the 20-30 people I stand with are there – and they normally always are – I am happy. I think the club did what they could ensuring the FCK Supporters areas were filled with FCK supporters and not Barcelona fans – not a 100% success but I don’t think they practically could have done more. I thought it slightly bemusing how many friends I had suddenly coming out of the closet as FCK fans asking if I could get them tickets. For me, the more people the merrier. For me, the glass is either full against Barcelona or half full against Esbjerg. It’s never half empty. Continue reading
It may have escaped your notice this season but the Premier League is one of the most open we have seen for decades. The situation is not the same across Europe though. Head 600 miles east from London and you will land pretty much in the centre of Copenhagen, home to FCK, or FC Kobenhavn to give them their full name. Half way through the season and they are 19 points clear, with a goal difference of plus 33. They have made it through to the knock out phases of the Champions League where they will play Chelsea in late February.
So why have they become so dominant? We sat down with three FCK fans, all long term fans of The Ball is Round to discuss the situation. We provided the Carlsberg, they provided the insight.
Have FCK just better in past 2 years or have the rest got worse?
Ivar Petersen – Mainly FCK have gone better for reasons listed below which then make the other teams, relatively speaking, seem worse.
Charlie Anderson – Ominously, it’s mostly been improvement from FCK. The last two seasons have seen Copenhagen, OB and Brøndby finish first, second and third respectively, so the challengers – such as they are – have been pretty consistent. The mid- and lower-placed teams have got worse, though, which has had an effect on FCK’s margin of victory. In 2008-09 they won the league by five points, and last season that gap increased to nine. Halfway through this campaign, FCK are nineteen points clear and haven’t lost a game. A marked improvement is also indicated by their results in Europe. In 2006, an FCK team containing Brede Hangeland, Marcus Allbäck and Lars Jacobsen finished fourth with seven points in their Champions League group. This year under the same coach, Ståle Solbakken, the club qualified for the knockout stages, taking a point from FC Barcelona on the way to finishing second with ten points. Continue reading