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Talks with Perry
By Håvard Lindheim, 12 April 2005, 13:07

Prior to the league kickoff against Aalesund on Sunday, got a talk with Per Joar Hansen about himself and Rosenborg anno 2005.

CHEERING: A satisfied RBK coach after the beautiful free kick from Stensaas against Esbjerg in February.
Photo: Royal League/Gorm Kallestad
13 league golds in a row, the best squad ever, and 10 000 season cards sold - the expectations are great.

"Yes, but they are each year. That isn't new, is it?"

Are the expectations too high?

"No, that's the way it is in this club. When it has acchieved what it has during the past years, it is natural to set high expectations. That, we must live with."

What must the 2005 season give to make you satisfied for your own part?

"That we manage to play the football we want to play; that we are stabile throughout the season and that we see results from what we have practiced this winter. In particulary, the attacking phase of the game. We want to return to the 'Rosenborg gameplay' with speed forwards, situations were we come two against one, that the wingmen function and that we attack in waves with many possible passes in front of the ball leader - resulting in a multitude of chances and hopefully many goals."

Is it possible to be satisfied with the silver medal if the gameplay and the prestations have been present?

"Yes, if the team grabbing the gold are better than us, we must accept it. It is possible for a team to end up higher than us, but they will have to be good."

But surely, you want to avoid becoming the Rosenborg coach breaking the line of gold medals?

"To be honest, I don't give that idea much tought. When in sports, the present time is everything. As said, we have worked much throughout the winter to become more like the Rosenborg we want to be, and that is our main focus. The points are counted in the end."

A Quartet of Trainers
Several people have voiced that a Rosenborg coach has everything to lose. Why did you accept this job in November?

"That was because I am a person that like challenges. When I was told of this constellation, with Rune and I as responsible, and that Nils and Bjørn were drawn in to use their competence, I saw it as a fantastic chance to learn from all three - both Rune, Nils and Bjørn. Up until now, it has been a very positive experience."

Did you have any problems accepting the offer?

"No, not there and then. If you choose to work with football, working in Rosenborg is - to me - the greatest thing in Norwegian football. With the words of Oscar Wilde: 'The best way to deal with a temptation, is to fall for it.' "

Why do you think that you were offered the job as a Rosenborg coach?

"Impossible to answer. You had better ask Rune Bratseth and RBK's board of directors."

How good does the distribution of roles work in the new team?

"It works well. Daily, Rune and I run the most training sessions. Bjørn, on his side, is responsible for the resources in the club, and he has done a great job with the resource trainings. We feel that this has been neglected for some years, but we now cooperate good with the [Norwegian top sports institution] Olympiatoppen on the matter."

"When Nils is here, he of course gives feedback, which most often is wise and useful. In addition he runs some sessions with what he can give. The most important is that all four of us share the view on how Rosenborg is to play football. As long as we have that common view, this solution is no problem. What matters is allowing each one to share the knowledge and skills that they have."

ADVISOR AND COACH: Eggen and Perry during the new team's very first practice session, 9 November last year.

Why did you in the Coach Quartet sign for only one season? Doesn't this create too much disturbance in a club that has had four coaches in four years?

"That's the way it is in this business. The future is uncertain, no matter the length of your contract - be it one, three or five years. For my own part I doesn't give this much time. The way it was last autumn, when Ola asked his question of continued confidence, the club felt that this solution was the best. They want to see how things work, before deciding what happens next."

"But this summer I would like to know more about my future in the club, tough I haven't set a date."

Hansen, the coach
You have graduated from the RBK School of Football, but you have experience from Swedish football as well. How has this shaped you, as a coach?

"I learned lots about myself, about being a leader, having faith in a system and working with players. Even tough I was just across the border, it is something special being Norwegian and coming to Sweden as a football coach and starting to learn them how to play football. Those were great experiences."

"Two fantastic years in GIF Sundsvall I had, and I am happy to have had the chance of being the head coach there. It is important to be allowed to take responsibility, and to have felt what it means being a main coach before entering a bigger club. It was a fantastic period of learning. GIF is a great club, which I still have warm feelings towards. I am eternal grateful for being given that chance."

How would you like to describe Per Joar Hansen as a coach?

"Hopefully, I am a modern coach. Even tough I have the main responsibility, I like to cooperate with the ones around me, and use people's strong sides. In today's football I believe it to be important to work in teams and use the team's resources in the best ways possible. Personally, I think the time of the 'Louis XVI' is over, the coach that was present on the field for 330 days a year. That model is wrong both for players and the coach. It is important to show confidence in the people around you, and hopefully I do that as a consequence of the way I think."

"Apart from that, I put demands upon people, and I don't like that they don't put through what we have agreed upon in advance. Hopefully I also have the human qualities that makes it possible to talk with me. Whatever the question or matter should be, it is important that it is discussed. I think, too, that I manage to listen and get signals, and to communicate this outwards as a leader."

"This is a picture I have of myself, others might not have the exact same view."

"Anyway, I feel that I have gotten an ever more clear view, as of today a crystal clear view, on how I want my team to play, both offensively and defensively. I have been a coach for ten years, even tough many think that I am a novice in the field, and feel that I have lots of experience from Byåsen - when fighting with small means in 1st division -, Sundsvall, and not least the period last year with Ola. I feel that I have gathered good experience and have solid ground under my feet, so I am ready for a task like the one I have gotten."

What spesific things have you done to turn the negative trend from last year?

"We have worked with cooperation and patterns of movement: What movements shall trigger a pass, from the back four, through the midfield, and not least on the last third of the field. This has been rigorously practiced both isolated in the parts of the team, and with the team as a whole, to get the collective going."

"Also, we have training of roles; so that everyone knows their role, what tasks belong to it, and what they must do in their role to trigger a pass in their direction. Apart from that we have had ample discussions, and practiced, practiced, practiced."

SHARING OFFICE: Perry and Skarsfjord shared office last year, and together they moved into the Office of the Head Coach when Ola had cleaned his desk.

How long on the road towards the good old RBK have you come?

"In January and February we weren't good. A natural part of the explanation is that we had a lot of injuries, at times 13 players were out. Then it's hard to do the collective training. In a period we had several players gone for International matches, which also makes it hard."

"But from we came to La Manga and until now, it has been great, I think. The prestations have been stabile, and the defensive part has been fixed - that must not be forgotten even tough we want to follow an attack-based strategy. Before the Viking match we only had four goals against on seven matches. I am pretty pleased with the defensive organisation. It is solid now. Against Viking we had an exception, and let in two, but the second of those was a banger in the cross, and those can always come; and the first one came on a free kick. Apart from that game we have continued getting better all winter, but still we have a way to go."

All in all, you feel the stability is returning?

"Yes, in the past seven games [prior to the league debut] we have five wins, one draw and one 0-1 loss against Vålerenga, caused by a horrible penalty. It doesn't look bad."

Stability is important if the gold is to be won?

"Indeed. The league isn't settled in single games against the big teams, but through 26 rounds. As you say, it is important to be stable and win games on bad days as well. We need to take points on away fields and win at home, and to acchieve this, we must be stable."

The players
The A squad has been named the best one ever, but isn't the midfield somewhat slim? George and Olsen has left, with no replacements, and Roar and Ørjan don't have too many years left.

"Roar and Ørjan may still have a couple of years left. And you must not forget Per Skjelbred. He is the most exciting player on the U19 National team, and through the winter he has played parts of a number of matches, where he has done well and showed skills and quality. We don't always have to look far."

"Per has showed great skills as running midfielder, while Alex Tettey has done well as central midfielder. In these two we have great youngsters. They won't feel too much of a pressure when playing together with the veterans. Should they continue their work, I think they might play some league matches this year."

Who will be the central midfielder - Ørjan or Jan Gunnar?

"Ah, it has been so much talk about this lately. 'Who will be the central man?' And the one not playing, all of a sudden is 'kicked out'. It has been so much fuzz that we laugh about it."

"We'll make decisions from one match to another. It is important to create the best trio possible in front of a match. Their skills must complement eachother. In some matches, Jan Gunnar will play as the central midfielder; in some matches he might play running midfielder, and in some matches he won't be playing at all."

"They are two different types. Jan Gunnar, at his best, is an exciting player. He can pass an opponent and advance. Ørjan is Ørjan - very stable in this role, defensively and offensively. He has a great mind for football which makes him pick the right solutions, and he seldom misses the ball. He seldom makes errors, which is important in that role."

It looks as if you have picked some sort of basis for the starting 11. Will these players always play, if uninjured, or will we see changes in the team to spare key players for greater tasks?

"We'll check status from match to match. When a match closes in, we'll see who has injuries, who we will meet, and who seems to be in the better shape. The last part is important. All the time, we must see who has things going. During a long season we know that the shape can vary, and as a result, you can qualify for the team with a good week of training."

Serious business has started
Rosenborg is on their way to the finals of the Royal League. Has the tournament lived up to the expectations?

"Absolutely! I have said it before, and I happily repeat - Royal League is a great success. Now, we have a higher number of meaningful matches. Firstly we fight for points, advancement and finals - we can win something. Secondly, we prepare for those matches as we do in front of league- and E-cup-matches. When there's a real competition, things are serious in a different manner."

Finally: Do you think we can celebrate league gold number 14 this autumn?

"If we are good enough, we can."

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