You can forgive Helsi ngborgs' supporters for feeling they have been short-changed by the last few days as they put their Champions League ambitions on the line.
The idea that someone even close to filling Henrik Larsson's boots was in the vicinity, as the former Swedish striker's two old clubs prepare to duel at Olympia stadium on Tuesday in the play-off round first leg had sent spirits soaring around Skane on Sweden's south-west coast. Alfred Finnbogason's 17 goals this season invited comparisons with Larsson but on Thursday the Icelandic striker suddenly quit Helsingborgs and his replacement is Alejandro Bedoya.
The United States midfielder left Ibrox a week ago after a difficult year and with just one goal to his name. Bedoya signed a short-term deal with Helsingborgs but manager Age Hareide surely never considered the American as the person who would lead the line. Yet, Bedoya will make his debut in today's crucial encounter with Swedish title rivals Elfsborg, and Hareide hinted he will be asked to reprise the role against Neil Lennon's side.
Club officials had no idea that Finnbogason would not be coming back to Helsingborgs when he went off on international duty with Iceland. The 23-year-old – who lived in Edinburgh for two years as a boy – was expected to conclude a £395,000 permanent move to the Swedish champions from Lokeren after scoring 17 goals there during his five-month loan from the Belgian club.
However, Dutch club Heerenveen hijacked the deal, agreeing a price of £790,000 with Lokeren and Finnbogason flew to Holland instead. Back in Skane, the mood was one of disbelief from the supporters who have queued all week to make the visit of Celtic a 16,000 sellout. Finnbogason had been given the "new Larsson" tag by Lars Lagerback, who was national coach for Sweden in four major finals – Finnbogason had been smitten by Larsson when he lived in Edinburgh and the latter scored 243 goals for Celtic, though the Icelandic youngster was actually a Hibernian fan.
To make matters worse, Finnbogason tweeted a message to Elfsborg manager Lasse Nilsson that has his one-time followers at Helsingborgs muttering about betrayal. "Congratulations to you, Heerenveen and us," wrote Nilsson at hearing Helsingborgs' chief goal threat had been taken out of the equation. Finnbogason replied: "Thank you and congratulations on the title, ha ha." If the clock had been turned back, you cannot imagine the real Henrik Larsson wishing Rangers all the best on his way out of Celtic to Barcelona.
According to the manager of another team who wear green and white hoops, the departure of Finnbogason is a significant bonus for Celtic. Carl Darlington's The New Saints were eliminated by Helsingborgs in the first qualifying round, going down 3-0 in Sweden after holding Hareide's side to a 0-0 draw in Wales. "Finnbogason was the main goal threat along with the Norwegian striker Thomas Sorum," said Darlington. "He liked to play good combinations and came up with a goal."
Hareide is convinced Bedoya, who spent two seasons in Sweden with Orebro before coming to Glasgow, can fill the void. "You can never be sure until all the paperwork is in order," said Hareide. "It is one of the reasons why we set up deals for Alejandro Bedoya and young David Accam. There are different types of players but can still reinforce our squad. I want them playing as quickly as possible and we must look forward to Elfsborg and Celtic.
"We were really happy with Alfred and he was in a difficult position with Lokeren putting pressure on him but if Bedoya reaches the same level he was when he played in Orebro, we can get a good player."
Finnbogason's stock rose when he scored a sublime goal last week in a friendly win over Sunderland, and in the Champions League third qualifying round elimination of Slask Wroclaw of Poland but insists Helsingborgs can still get into the group stage.
"I am convinced that they can do it," declared the Icelander. "No team is dependent on one player. Someone else will fill my gap. I had a great time in Sweden and will always feel gratitude to Helsingborgs. They made it possible for me to take this step."