Season 2016/17 began with such optimism. Well, for 9 days at least. A 4-0 victory away at Viborg and the dizzy heights of top spot in the Superliga after 'Runde 1' had me dreaming, with my tongue firmly placed against my cheek, of a season challenging big spending Copenhagen for Gold or qualifying for a Europa league campaign the following season. But I was soon brought crashing back down to earth with consecutive 4-0 defeats to FC Midtjylland and Copenhagen. Infact, in the games that followed, I even feared we might even find ourselves struggling to hold on to our place in the Superliga. 6 defeats and only 2 victories in our first 10 games, not helped by being without Danish Olympic team call ups Andreas Maxso and Pascal Gregor for a couple of weeks, was a cause for concern.
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Thankfully what followed in the next 11 matches has me feeling a bit more optimistic and, perhaps ambitiously, with a couple of new additions targeting a spot in the top 6 under the new Superliga structure for 16/17. A complete reversal of fortunes which until a disappointing home defeat to OB saw us lose only 1 game in 9.
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And possibly even more frustratingly is that our league position could be far more favourable than the 9th spot we currently find ourselves in had we been able to hold on in games we really should have won. I make it at least 11 points dropped from winning positions over the course of rounds 11-21. A particular sore point being the concession of late goals to cost us valuable points, with Aab, Brondby, Esbjerg and Randers all scoring in the last 10mins.
But if I've learned one thing from my few years supporting the club, it's that these ups and downs are simply all part of being an FCN fan. And in all honesty, it's part of what makes my support stronger.
So what was the difference between rounds 1-10 and 11-21? I have a few thoughts...
Following a disruptive start to the season, hampered by transfers in/out, injuries and Olympic call ups, the team has a much more settled feel to it. Infact, excluding the '6' position which is currently occupied by 17 year old Victor Nelsson, the team selection has been fairly consistent. Andreas Maxso leads a back four made up of himself, Pascal Gregor, the returning Mini and a soon to be fit again Karlo Bartolec, whereas Indi Groothuizen appears to have the edge in the battle for the gloves. Super Stan Lobotka is an ever present in the middle of the park (and having a great year) and with Nelsson, he's complimented by the more attacking quartet of Marcondes, Asante, Donyoh and Ingvartsen. More on them later. That continuity of selection has been a huge contributor to the improved form over the last 11 games of the summer season.
Let’s face it, we’ve never made a secret of our love of Emiliano Marcondes at FCN Glasgow. He’s a player we’ve always admired and feel should be a regular in the starting eleven. So it was pleasing to see him get a long overdue run of games and he’s grabbed his chance with both hands. His quality and potential have never been in question and by bagging 5 goals from midfield so far, he’s added a dimension to the team we’ve been missing over the last few seasons. For me, he is the one player in the team capable of providing that spark out of nothing. That instinctive moment of brilliance or technique, evidenced by his superb last minute free-kick winner vs Viborg or his game-changing strike with ten minutes left against AC Horsens when it looked like the game was slipping away. That is certainly not a criticism of any of our other players, merely recognition of Emiliano’s growing importance in terms of linking midfield and attack and taking some of the pressure for goals off the front three. Still only twenty-one, it does seem that he is on the cusp of taking the next step in his development as a player. With continued improvement, like Emre Mor, AC and Uffe Bech before him, it wouldn’t surprise me if he is soon attracting the interest of clubs across Europe.
I can't speak highly enough about Marcus Ingvartsen. Left foot? Right foot? Headers? It doesn't seem to matter to him. He scores. But whilst he is the figurehead and will grab all of the attention and newspaper headlines (which is fully justified given his 12 goals so far this season), it would be foolish to overlook the contribution of his fellow strikers. Between them, Godsway Donyoh and Ernest Asante have contributed to 20 goals over 21 Superliga matches. The latter contributing with a Superliga best of 7 assists. His electric pace is the source of concern for many opposition managers and full backs. So much so that teams are reluctant to press FCN high up the pitch for fear of being exposed in behind on the counter attack, especially away from Farum. The improvement in Godsway Donyoh in particular has been especially pleasing. I have to hold my hands up that on the first few glimpses of Godsway, I didn’t expect him to make much of an impact. Furthermore, it wasn’t clear as to where he would fit into Hjulmand’s plans for the season given that the aforementioned Ingvartsen was almost guaranteed the central striking role. His arrival was somewhat understated, eclipsed by his Right To Dream teammate Collins Tanor who was expected to have a larger impact. However, with 6 goals and 4 assists to his name, it has been Godsway who has established himself as a first team regular, outshining the contributions of his predecessors Karlsson and Joshua John in the role on the left side of the front three. Such form has resulted in him being invited to the Ghanaian squads training camp ahead of the African Cup of Nations later this month. I have never been more pleased to be proved wrong and long may it continue.
Here's hoping, with a good winter break under our belts, an even better run of form is just round the corner and the improvement in results continues well into the spring. A spring which will hopefully see the team sporting new home and away shirts, a subject close to the heart of FCN Glasgow's very own Jon Boyle.
Vi er FC Nordsjælland.