I really don’t know why we were all so surprised by the defeat to Norway in England under-21’s second match of the European Under-21 Championships in Israel.
Firstly being an English football fan you should be pretty immune to those sort of feelings by now.
And secondly the Norway team was pretty decent.
Sure we have this belief in our players that sometimes borders on the ridiculous but Norway’s team was brimming with top talent at top clubs.
Players who play regularly as well.
Markus Henriksen, Havard Nielsen, Jo Inge Berget and Harmeet Singh; these are all very talented players and former Arsenal starlet Havard Nordtveit had to settle for a place on the bench.
Let’s not forget that this Norway side came out of a qualification group ahead of Belgium (and admittedly below England) and went on to beat France in a play-off to make it this far.
And one player at the centre of it all has been Magnus Wolff Eikrem.
The Molde FK midfielder has been playing in the under-21 setup since 2010 and has made nine appearances for the senior national team.
And of course he is a former Manchester United player as well.
He was recommended to United by former player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer as a 13-year-old and he signed for the club on his 16th birthday.
In January 2011 Solskjaer took him with him back to Norway where he became the lynchpin in a side that won their first Tippeligaen in history; and went on to retain the title the following year.
And one thing he does possess is the ability to pop up with the occasional strike from range that leaves the goalkeeper with no chance.
Don’t believe me? Ask Jack Butland.
Eikrem cracked Norway’s third goal in off the underside of the bar to give Norway a 3-0 lead against our Young Lions; which despite Craig Dawson’s penalty proved too much for Stuart Pearce’s side as an abject performance left them on the brink of elimination.
Sure Eikrem may never have made the grade for United but it looks as though Paul Scholes might have taught him a thing or two judging by this excellent strike…
image: © xoiram42