"I have a good feeling about this summer," said KR Reykjavík coach Rúnar Kristinsson, with the former midfielder expected to add to his trophy haul as the Icelandic season begins on Sunday.
The 44-year-old took charge at Iceland's oldest club in 2010, and has since won two Icelandic Cups and two national titles – including the 2013 crown. The general consensus is that he will have more silverware on his CV by the end of the summer. "I am very pleased with my squad and my new players who will hopefully fill the gaps left by the likes of goalkeeper Hannes Thór Halldórsson, midfielder Brynjar Björn Gunnarsson and captain Bjarni Gudjónsson."
Those three have all gone in different directions. Former KR captain Gudjónsson is the new coach at Fram Reykjavík, the cup holders, Halldórsson has joined Norwegian side Sandnes Ulf while former Reading FC midfielder Gunnarsson is now assistant coach with Stjarnan. Their experience is a loss for Kristinsson, with KR a work in progress. "We have to get the players to play together and we will see how that turns out in the first games," he explained.
A 2-0 win against Fram in the pre-season Icelandic Super Cup augured well for KR, whose new arrivals include Fram's star midfielder Almarr Ormarsson. Fram have also seen striker Hólmbert Aron Fridjónsson leave for Celtic FC, while FH Hafnarfjördur may miss Björn Daníel Sverrisson and defender Gudmann Thórisson, who have left for Norway's Viking FK and Sweden's Mjällby AIF respectively.
Breidablik defender Kristinn Jónsson has also moved to Sweden, joining IF Brommapojkarna on loan, though the return of imposing international midfielder Stefán Gíslason from Norway and the signing of Hönefoss's Arnór Sveinn Adalsteinsson will fill holes at the back. Third last year, Stjarnan have seen Jóhann Laxdal leave for Norway's Ullensaker/Kisa IL and allowed Halldór Orri Björnsson to join Swedish side Falkenbergs FF.
With their main rivals also readjusting, KR have reason for optimism, with spirits high around the islands' most successful club – 26 titles, 13 cups. "Even though KR are an old side with a grand tradition and a demand for success, everyone here knows each other," noted Kristinsson. "I probably know most of the people who come to our clubhouse. Everybody seems positive. We have managed to make it work the last few years and take some titles every year – we plan to keep that going."
The last of the UEFA nations' summer seasons to kick off, the Icelandic league has already had to make adjustments for a bitter winter which has left many pitches still under thick ice, forcing sides to start out playing on artificial surfaces.
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