Before I start, I’d just like to advise anyone who reads these posts and enjoys them to follow me on Twitter. I post about my game quite a lot and there’s things I put on there that don’t really suit the format of a blog, so you could well miss them if you don’t follow me. Thanks.
At the very beginning of this string of Újpest posts, I noted that there were five stages we needed to complete before my job with the Budapestians was finished. The ‘domestic consolidation’ phase that we started with went on slightly longer (four years in total) than I was hoping, but after a wonderful 2016/17 season, we’ve finally reached stage two: ‘domestic dominance’. The criteria for completing this phase are as follows:
• Consistent title challenges year-on-year
• Steadily improving youth academy
• Beginning to focus more on Hungarian talent
With the step up to the next phase (‘continental consolidation’) being:
• Improved performances in continental competition each year.
• Viable youth academy
• Beginning to focus more on Hungarian talent
For a number of reasons, I’m inclined to believe that these stages are very similar. Mainly because domestic and continental success don’t have any real bearing on each other and can also be completed simultaneously. As a result, from now on, I’ll be looking to complete aims from both stages.
So how did we get through stage one?
After three years of top-three finishes, we finally managed to push on and get the much sought-after league title. And it was more than well-deserved as we sat atop the table for the vast majority of the season. We gained the top spot on the 13th matchday and only relinquished it for one week during the rest of the season. Eventually we went on to achieve a final points tally of 70, which would’ve given me the title in any of my previous seasons. What made it even more sweet was that we clinched the title against Debrecen and played our final match of the season against Videoton; to win so convincingly against our two main rivals for the title just highlighted that we were by far the best Hungarian team this season.
To cap it all off, we managed to win the League Cup for the second time during my reign, too. Another comfortable win over Debrecen.
But perhaps more importantly than anything, as a result of our league title victory, this happens:
With the squad being quite easily the best in Hungary this year, it should be good fun to see how far we can get in the Champions League. The Europa League exit to Vaduz was incredibly disappointing, but simply making it to the CL group stages (or getting close) would improve the nation’s coefficient massively.
The success on the pitch has to be supplemented by a steady improvement in the club’s infrastructure if we’re to make a long-term continental impact, and I reckon we’ve done that pretty well so far. A number of improvements to our facilities means we’re now rocking ‘great’ youth and training facilities, which is far superior to the majority of Hungarian clubs. The youth facilities in particular are already beginning to have a wonderful affect: over the past couple of seasons, our youth intake has been rather poor. However, the U21 squad is now flush with 4*+ PA players thanks to excellent coaching and facilities. Once we start getting in some really naturally talented youngsters then they may be able to push for the first-team.
An example of one such youngster, and perhaps the best we’ve had through the academy in my time at Újpest, is Máté Halgas. More of the same please, FM gods.
Other promising youngsters: Walwyn Gumbs / / / Balázs Szabó / / / András Szikes / / / Balázs Laki / / / Róbert László (who managed to get YPOTY whilst out on loan)
Youngsters that have appeared in the first-team: Dominic Vadócz / / / Nobert Hajdú
As with the facilities and youth product calibre, the club’s finances have been on a steady upwards trajectory. However, this is mainly down to player sales. In the long-term, unless we’ve got a particularly amazing youth academy, relying on player sale to turn a profit probably isn’t a great strategy. But I’m hoping we won’t have to. Champions League group qualification would bring massive money into the club, and with the three biggest sponsorship deals in need of renewal this off-season, we should see a reasonable increase there too.
There were a couple of transfers throughout the season that’ll have an impact on the player stats. One such example is Coco being sold. During the winter break, he asked to leave, and given our extensive attacking midfield options, I was happy to let him go if we received a decent bid. £1.3m + 50% of next sale was enough for me so off he went. I was a bit annoyed to lose him as he was looking at an NPG+A P90 of 0.95, which was, at the time, the best I’d had at Újpest. A few others were getting similar sort of numbers from the same position, though, and with more minutes would be able to develop even more. So it made sense. Fernando Canesin Matos finally getting a value >1 was good to see.
Under the Spotlight: Thibault Rosier
Despite the use of a 4-1-2-3-0 at times, I was hoping young French striker Rosier would make slightly more of an impact this year. Coming to the club at the age of 17 with a current ability of already 4* CA was very promising and he had a number of very good attributes. His attributes have continued to develop, but unfortunately it hasn’t developed into on-pitch results. But he’s very much worth persevering with.
This is mainly because finishing/shooting numbers were excellent. Taking over 3 shots a game and still managing to have one of the highest Shot on Target %s in the squad is very promising. It means he’s getting a very large amount of shots on target. However, with 12 finishing, it’s likely that he’s just not regularly finding the corner of the net and it’s just a little too easy for the keeper to save.
I have high hopes for Rosier. He may be the only thing keeping us away from a permanent switch to the 4-1-2-3-0.