Writer: Tom Bodell
Date:Tuesday January 7 2014
After last week`s double capture of Mathias Ranegie and Alexander Merkel, we at Vital Watford picked the brains of two Hornets who have watched Ranegie regularly in Allsvenskan action to get a better idea of the player Watford are getting.
Martin Klinteberg (@MKlinteberg) lives in Sweden and writes about the Hornets on his website, Svenska Fans. Alex Prentice (@aprentice88) is the man behind WFC Forums and has lived in Sweden where he watched Ranegie play.
Here`s how they answered our questions…
Who is Mathias Ranegie?
[MK:] Ranegie played in Masthugget until 2000 but stopped there just before he turned 16. He started doing drugs and started stealing stuff to buy drugs. In Spring 2001, his parents forced him to move to his father in Paris. He played for Levallois SC 2002 and continued to smoke and drink and was sent home to Gothenburg in 2003. He ended up going to a few different treatment centers and summer of 2004, he quit the drugs after reaching the Christian treatment center Linnea House in Gothenburg.
He began playing in Division 5 with Majornas NS in 2005 and then went to Lärje-Angered in Division 2 in 2006 where he was the top scorer (25 goals in 19 matches) before joining Gothenburg in the Allsvenskan.
He did not get to play as much as he needed and had a lot problems with injuries because the manager did not know how to use him the right way in training (because of his height). Ranégie signed with BK Hacken on a bosman in January 2009. In August 2011 Ranégie was sold to Malmö FF after 18 goals in 22 matches during the first 23 rounds with Hacken.
On 31 August 2012, the last day before the transfer window shut, Ranégie signed a five year contract with the Serie A club Udinese. Udinese reportedly paid around 18-20 million Swedish Krona after exactly one year in Malmo FF .
What sort of striker is Mathias Ranegie?
[MK:] He is a typical target man; good with his head and totally fearless in his playing style. He can finish with both feet. However, he`s a moody player, which sometimes affects his game. He might not be spot on for teams who prefer to play along the ground
[AP:] I don't think his physical nature is a secret, that's plain to see just by looking at him.
He's still reasonably good with the ball at his feet and can hold the ball up well and involve teammates, obviously in front of goal he can hit the back of the net but I think that will solely depend on how a team lines up around him, plus it's only ever been against what can only be described as very poor opposition.
What are the strengths & weakness' of his game?
[MK:] Definitely his size and he is extremely good with his head. With exception of Gabriele Angella, Watford have no players that are as dangerous in the air.
However, Ranegie`s discipline could be a problem when he has had problems both on and off the field and sometimes makes bad decisions.
[AP:] As above, he's strong and tall so he will be a good target man should we start going more direct, he can bring the ball down well and hold it off and if we can get him in behind (I have my doubts about this) he'll finish well, if we were to start firing balls across the box more he'd undoubtedly perform a lot better.
An obvious weakness is his lack of pace and also I don't think he has what it takes to impose himself on higher quality of play, as made clear by his record outside of Sweden, and when playing for the national side against any side of note they're practically playing with 10 men.
The Allsvenskan's top-scorer in 2011, it's often presumed targetmen don't score as often as smaller, nippier forwards, that doesn't appear to be the case with Ranegie?
[MK:] In Hacken Ranegie had his best season ever and played with a huge self-confidence. In Malmö, he had very good players around him and came at a time when it went very well for the team.
[AP:] The trouble is, in Sweden the standard of play is very low, you'll notice in a lot of videos of his highlights that he got quite a few chances for BK Hacken being slotted through and one on one with the keeper, I may be wrong but one can only assume the defenders of the Championship (let alone the Premier League or Serie A) will make that a lot more difficult, he could prove to be a Chris Iwelumo of Wolves' title winning campaign.
Signed by Malmo from Hacken for 'one of the biggest fees ever between two Swedish clubs ever' according to Wikipedia, what kind of price are we talking about & how was that received?
[MK:] The price was 15 million Swedish Krona and although Leicester City, then under Sven-Goran Eriksson were interested, he went to Malmo because they were going to play in Europa League.
There were questions over whether he really was worth the money - not least because of his age and it was thought that he had his best seasons behind him. But, with 21 goals in one season he silenced many and proved that he was worth the money.
When he left the Allsvenskan, many people thought it would be to the Dutch league (similar to the Swedish) or to one of the lower Premier League teams where he should be able to perform well - not to Italy and the bench.
[AP:] I'm not entirely sure but I believe it was around 15M Swedish Krona which is around £1-£1.3M which is a huge fee in Sweden, it was a record fee for Malmo. It was seen as quite a coup for them, they'd fought off a lot of European competition for him at the time.
How is Ranegie thought of in Sweden, particularly in terms of the national team - how near it is he?
[MK:] People sees him as the sixth or seventh-choice forward in the national team - very dependent on others` lack of playing time.
In the World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands, he was suddenly playing but mostly due to injuries and suspensions of the top four strikers. He`s behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Johan Elmander, Ola Toivonen and Alexander Gerndt in the pecking order.
There`s not much talk about Ranegie in the Swedish papers, but mainly because he´s not been playing.
[AP:] Family/friends I have there don't particularly rate him one bit, but that could be born out of hatred for Malmo combined with them mostly being IFK supporters (he used to play for IFK before Hacken, and was dreadful, ended up being used as a centre back).
I think he was called up and got caps originally in a traditional Swedish squad that only features domestic players (like how Joel Ekstrand got his first cap) and scored, but against competitive opposition he's never really made the grade. There are quite a few other strikers ahead of him (Elmander, Toivonen, Gerndt, Tobias Hysen, some younger more promising players still in Allsvenskan and of course Zlatan).
What sort of standard is the Allsvenskan & what are its characteristics - how will he fit in in the Championship?
[MK:] The Allsvenskan is ranked 35th in the world (compared with the Scottish league at 25).
The problem that has characterized the Allsvenskan since 2000 is that we are losing ground in Europe. Firstly we play Spring - Autumn and our transfer window is not open as long as the rest of Europe.
Players are still cheap which makes the talent leaving for abroad (often to small leagues such as Holland, Greece and even Norway) after a little as one season in the Allsvenskan. The last time a Swedish team went to the Champions League group stage was in 2000.
As for Ranegie I believe he would fit perfectly in the Championship. He´s been training with one of the best teams in Italy and had a great pre-season but then could not make it to the starting XI (the same as Matej Vydra and we know how good he was).
My only concern is his age but that could have a positive effect of his younger teammates.
[AP:] It's not that great, it's better than a lot of other European leagues but that isn't saying much.
I would say that a lot of Allsvenskan clubs would probably struggle in League One, the better teams maybe are on par with the Championship.
The trouble is that as soon as any player shows a bit of promise, they'll be signed by clubs in Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands etc. Like 99% of Scandinavians, he should have the right characteristics to play here as they play very similar football, based on this plus Ranegie's style and physique you'd assume England (or Scotland) would be the place he'd play the best.
If you`re a Swedish-speaking 'Orn or a Hornet based in Sweden, you can follow the Swedish Hornets on Facebook.
And if you aren`t already, make sure to register with WFC Forums to discuss all matters yellow with fellow Horns.
Date:Tuesday January 7 2014
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Pozzo`s Watford: Volume Three (Intro) (Wednesday May 6 2015)
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