The Motherwell board wasted no time in appointing the 14th manager of the club. After McLeish resigned his assistant Andy Watson was offered the role but declined it as he wanted to follow ‘big eck’ to Hibernian.
The new appointment came in the shape of Fin, Harri Kampman. This was not only seen as a big surprise to fans of Motherwell but Scottish football fans alike. The ‘Well were of course in a scrap as they battled to stave away the threat of relegation, it was hoped the vast experience the Finnish manager had would guide the club to safety. Only a few years earlier Harri had masterminded Motherwell’s downfall in the UEFA cup as he led his Mypa 47 side to a shock 3-1 victory at Fir Park and would ultimately knock the Steelmen out the competition in which was viewed as a massive upset. Another notable claim to fame for Kampman was that he was responsible for helping start the career of Jari Litmanen, who of course would star for a successful Ajax side in the Netherlands and later on would be a hit with Liverpool as well as having served Barcelona, at times during the Finnish managers tenure at Fir Park there had been a few rumours floating around that Litmanen would link up with his former mentor but these were obviously false.
Arriving in Scotland on the 25th February 1998, Harri arrived on the day Motherwell played host to St Johnstone at Fir Park, Jim Griffin would take charge as the side won 2-1 thanks to a double from Tommy Coyne.
Under Kampman results would prove to be frustratingly inconsistent as his debut in charge saw a disappointing defeat by Dunfermline Athletic, no more than a week later the side played magnificently and trounced Rangers 2-1 at home, a result which certainly dented the side from Govan’s ten in a row title aspirations. He wasn’t long in delving into the transfer market bringing in a few short term signings in the shape of Scandinavians Stefan Lindqvist and Mats Lungren, goalkeeper Scott Thomson joined on loan from Hull City. Despite beating Dundee United the 1997/98 season petered out as the side would go on a run without winning in six games, the finale came as Aberdeen won 1-2 on the last day of the campaign at Fir Park. It was evident change was needed in the Motherwell squad but no one expected what was to come.
It was to prove to be the end of an era, the club made all the back pages of the tabloids when Kampman decided to release almost an entire first team playing squad, out went a clutch of favourites like Dougie Arnott who would retire, John Philliben moved on and became player/manager of Stirling Albion, Tommy Coyne, Willie Falconer, Shaun McSkimming and Frenchman Eric Garcin would all join Dundee. Stefan Lindqvist and Mats Lungren were shown the door also. Brian Martin and youngsters Garry Gow and David McCallum would join Philliben’s Stirling side.
Not much money was spent rebuilding the squad, positive signals were sent out as veteran Brian McClair returned to the club following his release from Manchester United and was instantly installed as the clubs new captain. Finnish international goalkeeper Mikko Kaven joined for £50,000 from FC Lahti, Englishman Stephen Halliday joined from Hartlepool United for the same fee. Freebies came in the shape of Greig Miller who joined from Hibernian, Jered Stirling from Partick Thistle and David White from Ipswich Town. A trio of Dutchmen followed – defender Michel Doesburg and midfielders Jan Michels and Rob Matthaei, German centre back Holm Kraska came from the FC Delmonhorst. As the 1998/99 season kicked off former Aston Villa defender Shaun Teale joined the ranks as did Jamie McGowan from Falkirk and finally and surprisingly only the second Finnish player amongst all the wheeling and dealings came striker Kai Nyyssonnen in a short term deal.
Pre-Season saw Motherwell travel to Kampman’s native country and some concern was growing pretty quickly as in a few matches the side were outplayed and beaten to sides which in all due respect should have been easily dispatched by the Steelmen. When the season started for real Motherwell were paired up to play St Johnstone on the opening day of the SPL, a stunning free kick from new addition Jered Stirling saw a good performance rewarded. This result was quickly followed by a 1-0 win over former ‘Well favourite Stevie Kirk’s East Fife side in the League Cup, a late penalty at Ibrox denied Motherwell a deserved draw.
Soon thereafter John Chapman sold his stake in the club to former Direct Holiday’s owner and local business man John Boyle. Rumours immediately surfaced that Brian McClair was about to take the helm as the club were prepared to sack Kampman. These rumours were of course swiftly quashed by McClair who stated he had no desire to get into football management.
Harri certainly did himself no favours as Ayr United embarrassed the side in the League Cup winning 0-2 at Fir Park, the men from Somerset were up 1-0 within a minute. John Boyle introduced football for a fiver as he hoped to entice thousands back to the club. 9859 fans showed up to watch the side play Dunfermline in a lacklustre 0-0 draw followed by a similar game against Dundee United which attracted 11201 which was amazing seeing that the game was live on SKY TV and had a bizarre kick off time of 6.05 pm. Thankfully Kai Nyyssonen netted the winner in the drab affair. Goals were hard to come by so another transfer came in the shape of Derek Adams from Ross County, it cost the club approximately £175.000 to prize away the youngster who had been banging the goals in at Dingwall.
Draws against Aberdeen and Kilmarnock actually saw the side sit healthy at the top end of the table but defeats at Hearts and Dundee plunged the side into real trouble and it was after the game at Dens Park fans really called for change. His tactics seemed far too negative and he also seemed to play a rotation system which certainly didn’t help with the consistency especially with all the different nationalities on board, communication problems seemed to be one of the main reasons for goals being conceded.
Following a defeat at the hands of Celtic, news surfaced that Harri Kampman had quit as manager and had returned to Finland with a hefty pay off. Radical change was required again as the side had become somewhat detached at the bottom of the table. Kampmans replacement was another surprise to the ‘Well faithful as former player and youth coach Billy Davies was chosen to lead the club forward.
Harry would spend the rest of his management career in Finland serving Tampere United, FC Lahti, AC Oulu and FC Haka.
|Date of Birth:||13th May 1954|
|Place of Birth:||Oula, Finland|