MTK come into the game looking to bounce back from a midweek cup exit at the hands of lower league opposition. That defeat ended an all competition eleven match winning stretch (all good things come to an end), but they still come into the game on the back of a seven match winning stretch in the league.
MTK’s third Budapest derby of the season comes in the guise of Ujpest, who themselves are having a strong season (after last year’s incredibly disappointing 13th place finish). Their relative success seems to be built on solid foundations with the second meanest defense in the league (after Vidi) and a strike force that averages a goal a game. With MTK hardly ripping the league apart with their expansive football, I head into this one expecting another odd goal in one to be decisive.
Given I have a little more time on my hands in the build-up to this game, let’s take a little look at Ujpest. Ujpest (meaning New Pest) are based in the Ujpest district of Budapest. This is enlightening stuff. Ujpest is the oldest football club in Hungary, founded in 1885 and currently in its 103rd consecutive season in the Hungarian top flight (both MTK and Fradi have spent time in the lower leagues in the last ten years.) That proud record (and the club itself) almost came to an end last season as the club faced bankruptcy and possible liquidation. For twenty time champions and a team that had moderate success in Europe in the late sixties and early seventies, the future did look bleak. By moderate success, I mean defeat to Newcastle United 2-6 on aggregate in the Inter-City Fairs Trophy Final of 1968/69 (although I cannot help thinking that a defensive/goalkeeper coach could have guided them to greater success):
The club was purchased by Belgian entrepreneur, Roderick Duchatelet (whose father owns Charlton Athletic and Standard Liege) in 2011 for the princely sum of EUR1 although he also assumed all of the club’s debts thought to be in the region of EUR 1 million. Soon a series of ever more dubious demands for payment were received by Roderick from various Cypriot and Seychelles (what is the adjective? Seychellian?) companies. Roderick grew suspicious and ceased settling the ever more spurious claims (backed up by some fraud experts in his native Belgium). However, the ’creditors’ threatened the club with the start of involuntary liquidation procedure, which would have seen the revocation of Ujpest’s top flight licence and relegation to the third tier of Hungarian football. Roderick (who despite seemingly undertaking no due diligence on the acquisition of the club) showed his business acumen by transferring the football licence to a newly-formed club (ahem Rangers), which was allowed to continue playing and competing by the MLSZ (after a few tears by Roderick): the new company of course had no debts payable to the web of offshore companies.
So last season had something of a tumultuous feel to it although it did culminate in a cup final win (the last to be played at the Puskas Ferenc Stadion) on penalties against Diosgyor. The route to that final included a two-legged semifinal victory over MTK in the second leg of which MTK crumbled to a 3-0 defeat losing two men to red cards along the way. Their path to Europe was blocked though due to the financial irregularities that had plagued the season.
The playing staff is somewhat of an internationally eclectic one bolstered by players from Standard and Charlton. Club legend Kabat Peter is still lumbering on at the age of 37 although has yet to play this season. Here he is getting ’set up’ by the worst dressed fake policeman ever:
Simon Krisztian is the pick of the few young Hungarian players at the club having spent time at Wolves and also playing 8 games in the Eredivisie for Feyernoord. He plays typically plays wide left and looks good if he can get involved in the game; however, he can often look lost as was the case in his recent (deserved) debut for the national team in Bucharest. 23 year old opposite winger Asmir Suljic from Bosnia also looks fairly handy and could possibly go further in the game if he can bulk up a little.
My first prediction of the season (in no way connected to the fact that this is the first blog written about a game that has not happened yet) is a 0-0. Ujpest obviously well organised at the back and will be more than happy to take a draw and keep them in the hunt for a Top 3 finish going towards the winter break. Nevertheless, an early goal for Ujpest and I think we could see a 0-3 as MTK go chasing (something that I am not sure they have the team/setup to do). A goal at any point for MTK will see the defence drop deep, retention of possession and the familiar suffocating of the game that has become familiar this season. Probably be 3-3 then…
First trip down to Kispest for a while and this time I will take my camera…