Following a relatively decent if unspectacular 2014/15 season, there was more progression needed if we were to take the league title and get any sort of progress in Europe. Unfortunately, despite another fairly good season, we were unable to do either. This was largely because we spent the season re-building the squad following the loss of several key players (although these were all my choice).
The first man out was Nebojsa Kosovic after we decided not to renew his loan deal. It was a really big decision given he was the Hungarian Player of the Year last season but we had Nassir el Aissati coming in on a free transfer who I felt deserved a good amount of minutes. And in the end that really payed off, el Aissati was arguably our best player, even at the age of 21 with a distinct lack of previous first-team football.
Chema Anton and Juanan, my first choice central defensive partnership, were also shipped out. At a combined total of about £1million, they just weren’t deals I was able to turn down. Dusan Vasiljevic was also sold for £24k, as at the age for 33, it was time to push some youngsters on in his position. Plus, he was also taking up one of the valuable five non-EU player slots in the squad.
Aside from that, the only other outgoings throughout the season were Tamas Bihari and Roland Polgar, two promising young Ujpest youth projects. However, 500k and 425k (both with 50% of next sale clauses) massively outweighed their potential. Take the money and move on.
But with a total of over 15k first-team minutes from 2014/15 leaving the club, it was pretty clear we needed an injection of talent. That firstly came in the form of Hungarian international Adam Vass:
What I felt the team was really lacking last year was the presence of a real ball-winner. Adam Vass is just that — a Hungarian Javier Mascherano, if you will. This really did show, as in the end he received a red card every 9 league games as well as spending four months on the sideline (albeit some over the winter break) with a torn calf. But alongside Henri Eninful and Romauld Lacazette as DM options, we’re now able to regain possession more affectively than at any previous point during my reign.
The departures of Juanan and Chema Anton meant we had to find two central defenders, too. I was hoping Jonathan Heris would be able to step up and find a regular place in the starting XI, allowing me to bring in two ‘project’ players. We were able to find that in the form of Christophe Herelle and Romaric N’Gouma as we further raided the French leagues.
Just to recap, my aims for this season were as follows:
• Title Challenge: SUCCESSFUL
• Reach Europa League playoff: UNSUCCESSFUL
• Develop a proper secondary tactic: SUCCESSFUL
• More Hungarians in the first team squad: UNSUCCESSFUL
• Silverware: SUCCESSFUL
Three out of five ain’t bad.
1:In the end, the league table went a little like this following a last-day victory over Videton to secure second place:
2: However, our European campaign wasn’t so good. We fell at the first hurdle to a rather lacklustre Derry City side. I was reasonably pleased to come back from Ireland with the scores level at 0-0 but they were able to turn us over and win 2-0. Not scoring a goal in either game was a bit of a wake up call in that we’re just going to be able to glide into the group stages every year.
3: After the disappointment of our exit to Derry, I became even more determined to come up with a slightly-altered version of our current tactic. In the end, it evolved into a narrow 4-1-2-3-0 that was created when Ahjupera was [yet again] injured for a reasonable period of time. Trying to decide which two to play our of Coco, Asmir Suljic and Nassir el Aissati was becoming a real chore, at the time. So I went with two Shadow Strikers flanking el Aissati as an Advanced Playmaker. With the two hyper-aggressive roles of BBM and BWM behind them, as well as a Regista at DM, it worked very well. The two onrushing CWBs also provide some much needed width, as ever. This worked pretty well at times:
4: Still 6. Adam Vass, Dominic Vadocz in; Roland Polgar, Peter Kabat out.
5: Given it was always going to be unlikely that we won the league, and out of the question we’d win a European trophy, the two remaining were the two domestic cups. We’d already won the League Cup so our efforts were focussed on winning the Hungarian Cup. And eventually we did that, following a rematch of last year’s final as we beat fierce rivals Ferencvaros 2-1 in a not-so-close game where we played against 10 men for the majority. Having just won the league title, the Fradi would have made it three cup wins in three consecutive years if they beat us in the final, so limiting their success was an added bonus to a strong cup campaign.