Kjetil Rekdal, one of Norway’s most high-profile and tough-talking football personalities, will step aside at the end of this season as head coach of troubled Oslo club Vålerenga. He’s making way for Ronny Deila, another top Norwegian coach who’s been pondering his future since returning to Norway after two seasons at Celtic in Glasgow.
Now Delia will try to revive the sagging fortunes and performance of Vålerenga, once a premier football club in Oslo that has sunk to the bottom in terms of league standings, match attendance and finances. Vålerenga was described by newspaper Aftenposten’s football reporter on Wednesday as a “circus” and its “own worst enemy.” The former league champion in 2005 is a shadow of its former self.
Rekdal claimed there were “various reasons” for Vålerenga’s poor standings, ranging from personnel conflicts, player injuries and financial problems. “It’s my responsibility,” he stressed. With Deila coming on board for the new season, and Deila’s former colleague at rival club Strømsgodset, Erik Espeth, taking over a top administrative post as daglig leder, Rekdal won’t have such responsibility much longer. He will now become “sports leader” at Vålerenga and will “cooperate closely” with Deila.
As speculation swirled earlier this week over the major upcoming changes at Vålerenga, much of it centered on whether Rekdal and Deila would get along. Both are known for very different management styles and temperament, but they insisted at a midday press conference that they would work together. Rekdal said he was involved in the process of finding a new coach for Vålerenga and that he was the one who took contact with Deila. “The fact that Ronny is sitting here, that was an idea I had quite early,” Rekdal said, adding that he also helped convince Deila to take the job.
Deila, who also revealed he’s about to become a father again, stressed that he wanted to return to Norway after fulfilling a goal he’d had of working abroad for a while. “This is a big day, I’m very proud to become part of Vålerenga,” he told reporters. “I think this is interesting because there’s great potential in Vålerenga.”
He acknowledged that “there are many” who are surprised over his choice of club. “This has to do with me, my life and what I think is exciting,” he said. “For me, it’s exciting to create things. At Celtic it was all about winning. They were two great years. At Vålerenga there will be a lot of work, and it will be tough, but that’s what I love.”
Rekdal told newspaper Dagsavisen on Tuesday, when speculation over his own future was flying, that he has worked “24-7” for Vålerenga, I’ve done everything except wash the floors. We’ve lived hand-to-mouth every single day.
“The only thing that counts now is to raise the club up. Vålerenga is more important than I am … if we get a solution that strengthens the club, I’m all for it.” Deila won’t start officially until January 1, but said he would get involved in the planning from now on.