Lars Lagerbäck (72) responds for the first time to the criticism after VG’s revelations about the heated atmosphere between the national team manager and Alexander Sørloth (24) at the previous national team gathering.
– I tolerate well that there are disagreements about football issues. However, Alexander made several accusations that did not concern how we play football, but which went on that Per Joar Hansen and I were incompetent as coaches both in terms of management and football, says Norway’s national team manager in a press release sent out by the Norwegian Football Association.
VG wrote on Saturday
between star striker Alexander Sørloth and the national team’s assistant coach Per Joar Hansen during a meeting in front of the entire squad the day before Wednesday’s match against Northern Ireland.
On Wednesday, VG, after new conversations with several sources in and around the national team squad, revealed more details about the prelude to the same meeting, which is described as heated and with loud exchanges between Sørloth and national team manager Lars Lagerbäck at Thon Hotel Storo in Oslo.
Here is VG’s timeline of what should have happened:
– After 30 years in international football, I have never experienced that players have crossed the border in this way. I have had many football discussions with players who have been fact-based and about football. But never anything that has been close to this, says the Swede.
Four sources also informed VG that the national team manager made a reference to Sørloth’s unfortunate performance against Cyprus in 2018:
– How dare you, who missed an open goal against Cyprus two years ago, say anything?
– I was shocked. I have never experienced anything like this, says one of the witnesses to VG. Several others have expressed similar reactions.
In the press release, Lagerbäck elaborates on this episode and takes self-criticism:
– When we left the room, I unfortunately lost patience. Then came my statement about Cyprus and I pointed out: “You were not so cocky two years ago in Cyprus”. I regret this choice of words that came after a long and heated discussion. This was an attempt to make Alexander understand that he must adapt to how the team should work. For me, this is about creating a good performance culture, says Lagerbäck.
– The evening ended with Per Joar Hansen, Stefan Johansen, Alexander and I talking together and taking each other by the hand, and agreed to put the case behind us. I have always had the principle of protecting the players externally. For the sake of the coaches’ integrity and the anonymous sources in VG’s coverage, we had to deviate from this principle and comment on what happened, he says.