This is a review of last season and a preview of this. I wrote the review when the beer had faded off after the Paks result. I honesly wrote this two days before the start of the NB II season in July. I have just been very lazy!
The cold, sober light of day is a far better time for reflection. Inherently, the conclusions are far more rational, less beer fueled and, basically, less fun; however, I feel that I need to purge my system of whatever emotions remain before disappearing off for a few weeks (I forgot to publish this before disappearing).
How was the season?
Ultimately, MTK were relegated, got knocked out of Europe to a team from Azerbaijan and out of the Hungarian Cup by a second tier side. Pretty poor. Luckily, I do not support MTK for the incredible success that I expect from them. I have been an MTK supporter now for about five years and success has been limited to a third place finish and beating up Ferencvaros pretty badly on a couple of occasions. I even missed the Euro adventures due to an ill-timed move to Denmark. Perversely, this season will give me some great memories. One of the beauties of football is those fleeting moments of sheer unadultered joy, the victories snatched from the jaws of defeat. And MTK have had these this season: from Torghelle’s last minute penalty against Ferencvaros to score our first win of the year, the rollercoaster in Mezokovesd against Diosgyor and Hrepka’s collected finish to snatch three points in Ujpest. These were all beautiful moments where my inner girl took over and let out a primal scream. I will not forget these moments. Would I swap these moments for safety and, but a few more points picked up in an unassuming manner? I don’t know.
Last season in two pictures. One of which has words. In fact they both do.
There was also some dross. 26 goals scored in 33 games and the third best defence in the league meant that footballing spectacles were few and far between. The new stadium has been no blessing. Eleven games played, three wins and only ten goals scored. Soulless football and a soulless stadium is a tough combination for the casual supporter. The low was that freezing trip to Gyor to watch a team play more meekly than a jellyfish eating a steak.
Why were we relegated?
Simply put we were not good enough. The league table does not lie and we were the second worst team in the league. As alluded to above, this came down to a lack of goals and a lack of chances. The football played under both managers was bland and uninspired in a surprisingly similar fashion. The build-up was slow, we had no width and we had no pace. There were few glimpses of what could have been. The ten or fifteen minutes after Ujpest equalized, MTK played expansive, high tempo football. But that was it. Even as we chased survival at Paks with four strikers on the pitch, we did not create a chance of note until it was too late.
Kanta Jozsi did not have the season he would have wanted. Normally, the team’s talisman who provides bite and guile in equal measure. He has also been overrun in midfield. With Vass Adam providing defensive cover as an anchor man, the management too often chose a young inexperienced player to sit alongside Kanta. Often this was Vogyicska or Katona, who may become great players, but were just too lightweight to help control the midfield.
But it was not by much that MTK went down. They finished level on points with Diosgyor and were relegated because they had won fewer games (although had far better goal difference). They were only six points from a top half finish. There were a lot of poor teams in the league this year and MTK just ended up as one of the two poorer. It came down to fine lines. Referees not giving penalties for MTK against Ferencvaros for Nagy Adam’s goalline clearance with his hand and against Haladas for a scythe on Baki and giving a penalty against MTK to Honved for an Eppel flop. But I am sure a keen watcher could point out things that went our way this season. Maybe they balance out. Who knows?!
What happens next?
The manager goes. Our foreigners now become redundant as NB2 rules effectively prohibit non-Hungarians. Actually, there is no rules banning them just that any prize money will basically be reduced to nil if you play foreigners. Whether we keep our Hungarians is to be seen? Would anyone want an ageing Torghelle or Kanta? Are any of our Hungarian players good or attractive enough to warrant the attention of the top flight? I imagine we pay reasonable wages as well.
Fast forward about two months. It has been a hot summer and one full of activity at MTK.
The manager, Zsolt Tamasi, has unsurprisingly gone to be replaced by Tamás Feczkó, 40, who decided against the challenge of keeping his newly promoted, Balmazujvaros, in NBI after their surpriseish promotion last season. He seems like a good choice. A man who has recent success in this division and sees the challenge of taking MTK back to where they belong and further as more exciting than a short-term crack at success with the small team from the East.
As was expected, there has been a huge overhaul of the playing staff. Starting with the foreigners. Yuri Kolomec returns to Ukraine after firing a broadside at the team’s management. The excellent Montenegrin keeper Petkovic who moves onto Lorient in France’s second tier. Good luck to him. He is an excellent keeper. Fellow keeper Federico Groppioni drops down the tree to Csep-Gol, who play in Budapest’s regional league. Ramos Myke is still on the club’s books, but moves on loan to Haladas. He might come good and if MTK go back in one go we can see him back at the club. Vuki leaves the club after many years. There had been an expectation that he would make his way as a coach at MTK, but the new gaffer clearly did not see it that way and Vuki moves to III Kerulet (District III) in the third tier.
Of the Hungarians, the biggest mover has been Patrick Poor. In some ways, this was a surprise as he has come through the ranks, is a mainstay of the team and could have become a one-club man. On the other hand, he wants to get back in the Hungarian squad and where better to that than in Felcsut for Orban’s inappropriately named Puskas Academy. I am sure he is picking up a nice pay packet. (Incidentally they have spent a bomb after promotion and endeared themselves to no one). The only other first teamer to leave permanently is Daniel Vadnai, the left back. Muh. He was ok so not too fussed about that one. Youngster Balint Vogyicska goes on loan to Vasas. He has potential. He needs to bulk up. Maybe NBII is not the place to do this.
To replace these departures, seven players have arrived plus a whole handful back from loan and thanks to Nemzeti Sport, I can do a CTRL C CTRL P and a little edit to give you this:
Balogh Béla (Mezőkövesd)
32 year old defender who played for MTK from 2002-2010 and has 9 caps for Hungary (albeit from ten years ago).
Bori Gábor (Gyirmót FC Győr)
33 year old winger, attacking midfielder who played for MTK from 2001-2010 and has 1 cap for Hungary.
Farkas Balázs (Balmazújváros)
29 year old winger, attacking midfielder who was a youth team player for MTK and has 3 caps for Hungary. He also won the Ukrainian Championship with Dinamo Kyiv in 2007. He follows Tamás Feczkó from Balmazujvaros.
Gengeliczki Gergő (Soroksár)
24 year old right back who comes from a team that narrowly missed out from promotion to NBI last time out.
Lencse László (Puskás Akadémia)
29 year old striker who played for MTK from 2007-2009. Arrives from Felcsut where he did a good job of spearheading their NBII winning attack. He made the provisional Hungary squad for Euro 2016, but was cut.
Szentpéteri Viktor (Vác FC)
37 year old keeper who has played in Finland. Likely to be the reserve keeper.
Vass Patrik (Gyirmót FC Győr)
Paddy!! The Aaron Lennon of Hungarian football returns. Played so well in the 13/14 season before falling from grace for no discernible reason.
In summary, loads of MTK old boys come back to bulk out the numbers. The squad has far more depth than it did last season (and if anything) looks a little stronger with some of the youngsters who performed admirably in NBII for their host clubs also swelling the numbers. The team comes with a lot of experience when you throw in Kanta, Torghelle and Vass Adam as well. It will be interesting to see how Feczko gets the balance between experience and youth right. MTK can almost put out an over 30 team and an under 25 team. The season is a long one (38 games) so there is no harm in having the extra bodies.
Not bouncing back immediately will be seen as a failure. However, NBII has a few clubs who will be eyeing promotion. Gyor and Nyiregyhaza are moving back up the divisions after the banishment from NBI a couple of seasons ago. Soroksar and Kisvarda narrowly missed out on promotion last year and will want/expect to go one better. Gyirmot will also want to return to NBI after their limp showing last season in finishing a distant bottom. The likes of Sopron, Zalaegerszeg and Bekescasba also consider themselves bigger than this league.
Based on next to no knowledge of the league and a distinct lack of knowledge on MTK’s new boys, I will boldly predict that we will return to give Torghelle and Kanta another crack at the top level before retirement. There are a lot of small clubs in the league with minimal pedigree and only a loose connection with the professional game. The key is winning home and away to the bottom 50-60%: this will get you well on your way to a top 2 finish.
A nice cup run would be good as MTK have not gone deep into the Magyar Kupa for three or four years. Being a second tier side brings some advantage as we automatically play at home against top tier sides. I am not sure how many teams would fancy that trip against a (hopefully) in-form MTK team with the imposing grey walls.
Not really a prediction, but I hope that the club grows a deeper connection with the fans. There were some signs of that towards the end of last season with the free trip to Paks and cutting of ticket prices.
Let me throw in some NBI predictions as well. Winners – Vidi. Relegation – Balmazujvaros, Paks. Another terrible season for Debrecen. Ferencvaros to win the Cup. Thomas Doll to finally lose his job.
Last – Like I never left