When IWFTB went to the transfer circus for a Sunday stroll it expected to see a forlorn merry-go-round sitting stranded in the rain, water dripping from the muzzles of transfer ponies, emptiness echoing in the absence laughter, shrieks of joy and the sound of little feet of the transfer rumours tapping merrily around the ride. But no, the transfer merry-go-round was already set in motion, taking on not only those little rumours but proper, grown-up transfers as well. So on for the ride we go…
After a below-par season for everybody’s favourite team to push HJK off the title podium, ending up in fourth behind mighty KuPS, Honka are looking forward to renewing their squad. Captain Rami Hakanpää left for HJK and Janne Henriksson, who for some reason reinvented himself as an error-prone bystander in Espoo, signed for VPS. MacPherlin Omagbemi Dudu (also known as Dudu) arrived from bronze-winning surprise package KuPS and left midfield crosser Ilari Äijälä was signed from MyPa. Those who left and who are still without a club are Aleksander Kokko, who after two poor seasons after being top scorer in the league probably still thinks he’s a top scorer, Ville Koskimaa, former Inverness CT midfielder Markus Paatelainen and John, “The Magician”, Weckström, who whenever he is not scoring goals like this in pointless pre-season friendlies is actually not at all that magical, which is of course pretty much all the time.
HJK fans might not know what to make of ‘Rambo’ Hakanpää’s transfer. On the one hand, the 32-year-old has a long history of injuries and is not getting any younger but, on the other, Hakanpää is one of the best centre-backs in Veikkausliiga and since Pyry Kärkkäinen and Peter Magnusson both left the club, there’s definitely a need for an extra central defender. HJK fans will most definitely miss Johannes Westö who decided to have a year off from football to travel the world. This doesn’t really come as a surprise since the multi-talented midfielder has made no secret of the fact that football might not be the most important thing in the world for him. ‘Klubi’ were quick to find a replacement for the long-haired prodigy as they signed FF Jaro’s Sebastian Mannström. The 22-year-old is a like-for-like replacement for ‘JW’ but the HJK jury is still very much out on the former U21 attacking midfielder. The reigning champions also signed AC Oulu midfielder Dominic Yobe who should be a decent if unspectacular signing. And goal-ace Juho Mäkelä has travelled all the way to Australia and FC Sydney to show just how good a footballer he…em…to show how to score goals from point-blank range.
Relegation flirts JJK have meanwhile bagged some sizeable captures in Eero Korte (FC Lahti), Mikko Manninen and Babatunde Wusu (both from TPS) and Tamás Gruborovics (IFK Mariehamn). Wusu is a former JJK favourite and is expected to provide ammunition for the goal-shy JJK attack, Korte should be able to marshal the midfield and Manninen brings pace and directness to their attack. The Jyväskylä club are already shooting their mouths off by claiming that they will be top-three candidates next season. Even though the signings are impressive, it’s still a long way from trudging knee-deep in the relegation bog for two seasons to the top of Veikkausliiga. We know that JJK can crawl, but perhaps they should learn how to walk, for example by winning some home games first, before trying to run.
For fellow last season strugglers IFK Mariehamn things are not looking as bright. No less than six players have departed (Tamás Gruborovics (JJK), Willis Ochieng, Dmytro Voloshyn, Medoune Gueye, Ante Simunac and Boussad Houche). Even if few will probably shed tears watching these players go (Tamás Gruborovics’ departure being the exception perhaps), the fact that they only have ten player contracts at the moment speaks volumes about MIFK’s failed transfer policy. Tough times ahead for the Åland club. No wait…this is just in: keeper Josh Wicks has signed from DC United. Well everything should be fine now.
Also at Anjalankoski the winds of change are sweeping through the streets of what was once such a prominent paper factory town. Since former Viikingit coach Toni Korkeakunnas took up the reins at MyPa, four players have made Saviniemi their new home. Niko Kukka (AC Oulu), Eetu Kaipio (Viikingit), Tommi Vesala (Viikingit) and Mikko Innanen (Haka) have arrived, while Antti Uimaniemi left for VPS. There probably was no dancing on the aforementioned streets when the news of the new arrivals broke, but things are perhaps looking up at MyPa.
That’s pretty much your lot then for now.