The transfer news column returns afresh with a new title and ever improved content. Well that’s at least what evil marketing men and women want you to believe with these kinds of blatant attempts at re-branding. In truth, the Round-up will be exactly as inefficient, lazy and crass as the Weekly was in providing news, gossip, outright lies and stuff people called ‘Gaz’ or ‘Bez’ confide to the Round-up at the pub after last orders on Saturdays. In short, ‘a rose by any other name’ and so on an so forth.
So here we go then. While youth has been all the rage in Veikkausliiga for years, the 2010 season is defined by nothing if not by the golden oldies, the thirty-somethings, the seasoned professionals who were already wrestling with wolves and ploughing fields swarming with adders while the rest of use were still speaking in incoherent monosyllables and picking raisins off buns (because raisin are yuck!). You might think that people who have earned a good living and played at some of the biggest stadiums on the planet would, at 30 plus, rather start enjoying a well-earned early retirement (somewhere where the average temperature is over 1,9 degrees Celsius) than trample in slush and mud before a handful of spectators in the middle of October. To the delight of Veikkausliiga fans, these people are made from harder stuff than the Round-up. Now that Jonatan Johansson and Toni Kuivasto are back, the average age of Veikkausliiga players has sky-rocketed and the Round-up thinks it’s about bloody time. The kids are definitely all right but you cannot underrate experience: Jari Litmanen, Johansson, Aki Riihilahti, Janne Saarinen and Kuivasto, total age 363, total international appearances 1029, will rule Veikkausliiga next season.
Lets move on to the transfer then. As everyone must know by now, TPS pulled the biggest coup of the season by signing Johansson on a one-year contract. The 34-year-old Finnish international of 101 appearances and 22 goals returns to Turku after fourteen years spent in Estonia, Scotland, England and Sweden. Johansson’s return will give Veikkausliiga in general and TPS’s inexperienced squad in particular a needed boost. TPS also snapped up Toni Kolehmainen, formerly of AZ Alkmaar and AC Oulu, who signed a two-year deal with last season’s bronze medallists. Kolehmainen will have big shoes to fill in the TPS midfield and, with this in mind, the Round-up recommends an extended pie and beef-cake diet to the undoubtedly talented but ever so slight U21 regular.
Meanwhile, FC Sedu have been busy making short-term plans for an uncertain future. Toni Kuivasto signed a one-year deal (having spent a decade in Norway and Sweden) as did Jukka Santala, formerly of HJK, Glasgow Rangers and FC Nordsjælland. The returnee duo should be able to strengthen Haka’s unimpressive squad considerably but since we are talking about a club where the doors are swinging as frequently as in a busy Helsinki night club, who knows what will happen.
While HJK have been away building up Veikkausliiga’s international reputation (enjoying modest success in Moscow and beating AIK 2-1 in Seinäjoki), the personnel has changed quite a bit at Finnair Stadium. Paulus Roiha, Jukka Sauso and Mikko Hauhia have left (to Åtvidaberg, Jönköpings Södra and Akademisk Boldklub respectively) and since no new signings have been made, it actually might be the case that HJK fans will see more home-grown products in action next season. Well, kicking balls to the stands at half-times at least.
Former HJK favourite Iiro Aalto, who is also the holder of one of the poorest scoring records in Veikkausliiga history, left TPS for his home town club Rauman Pallo-Iirot (currently playing in the second division). Apparently, at 32, the full back wants to combine football with studying which is completely understandable. However, the Round-up will, for some inexplicable reason, actually miss seeing Iiro and his swaying gait on the Veikkausliiga greens.
Oh, and speaking of green, TamU were utterly destroyed by Örebro despite fielding a strong starting eleven. The Round-up knows that the Swedes are a few weeks away from their season kick-off and all that, but to get trashed 6-0 is just embarrassing (How does HJK’s defeat of the reigning Allsvenskan champions look to the cynics now?).
Meanwhile, VPS have been busy in the transfer market. The Vaasa club signed former FC Inter forward Valtter Laaksonen from Sogndal and Kwon Jung-Hyuk. The former will replace Henri Sillanpää who left for GAIS. The South-Korean is remembered from RoPS where he got used to conceding goals by the bucketful last season, usually for no fault of his own though. VPS also signed someone called Greg Eckhardt from some obscure university team from the US of A. Might sound a bit dodgy but apparently the 21-year-old has captained four different youth national teams. The Round-up is convinced that the American must be quite good then. Having been the captain for the duration of fifteen minutes in a playground match at the age of twelve, the Round-up knows how special you have to be in order to be selected a captain.
Atalanta also know when they come across a good player and so Henri Toivomäki will be spending the spring in Bergamo. The 18-year-old FC Lahti full back signed a six-month loan deal with the Serie A club and will be playing in their Primavera squad (who are apparently pretty decent). And nifty lower-division goal-getter Pekka Sihvola will finally get his big break in Veikkausliiga at Lahti, as will former Klubi 04 midfielder Janne Törmänen.
That’s your lot then. Feel free to add any mouth-watering gossip or fresh tittle-tattle below.
From: TPS; To: Rauman Pallo-Iirot; 2009: 23/0; Total: 200/1; Position: D; Date of birth: 19/7/77
From: Clemson Tigers; To: VPS; 2009: 0/0; Total: 0/0; Position: D; Date of birth: 1/7/89
From: HJK; To: Akademisk Boldklub; 2009: 25/0; Total: 158/3; Position: D; Date of birth: 3/9/84
From: St. Johnstone; To: TPS; 2009: 0/0; Total: 32/6; Position: F; Date of birth: 16/8/75
From: AC Oulu; To: TPS; 2009: 5/1; Total: 5/1; Position: M; Date of birth: 1/1/90
From: Djurgårdens IF; To: FC Haka; 2009: 0/0; Total: 173/9; Position: D; Date of birth: 31/12/75
From: RoPS; To: VPS; 2009: 20/0; Total: 20/0; Position: G; Date of birth: 8/2/78
From: Sogndal; To: VPS; 2009: 0/0; Total: 54/13; Position: F; Date of birth: 3/5/84
From: HJK; To: Åtvidaberg; 2009: 8/0; Total: 93/40; Position: F; Date of birth: 3/8/80
From: Mjällby AIF; To: FC Haka; 2009: 0/0; Total: 21/3; Position: F; Date of birth: 10/4/85
From: HJK; To: Jönköpings Södra; 2009: 0/0; Total: 126/4; Position: D; Date of birth: 20/6/82
From: FC Hämeenlinna; To: FC Lahti; 2009: 0/0; Total: 4/0; Position: F; Date of birth: 22/4/84
From: VPS; To: GAIS; 2009: 21/0; Total: 221/0; Position: G; Date of birth: 4/6/79
From: Klubi 04; To: FC Lahti; 2009: 0/0; Total: 0/0; Position: M; Date of birth: 1/1/90