The Season So Far…Ujpest and Ferencvaros

After a short break for Christmas and New Year, Gaby Kovacs and Tomasz Mortimer are back with the fourth of their installments as we go over the season so far for all the sides in NBI. Starting from the bottom, we’ll be working our way up to the top sides every Monday. You can see Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here

Club:  Újpest

Position: 10th

Season so Far: This has been a tough season for fans of Újpest with off the field distractions and injuries a plenty. Manager Géza Mészöly was relieved of his duties in August with the lilacs 15th in the table and replaced with Serbian Zoran Spisljak, but results remain inconsistent. They are scoring goals now though and have 22 from their 17 games so far, but with 31 conceded they have the 3rd worst defensive record in the first division. When Dutch legend Leo Beenhakker was named as sports director last year many eyebrows were raised, but to this day it remains a mystery to most fans what he actually did, and at the end of October he was deemed to expensive and left the club. It is certainly their worst season in recent years and what the new Belgian owner has in store for Hungary’s 3rd most succesful club remains to be seen.

Player so Far: Tough one this as most have shown in glimpses how good they can be, but I give it to left back Zoltán Pollák. He has been a player who does what’s expected of him with little fuss and has been consistent and solid. When he gets forward he has the ability to tear defences apart and the only criticism is that he does not do this enough. Wether he has been instructed not to or lacks confidence will come to light during the second half of this season. Either way he has done well to remain focused, after he was reportedly sacked back in September after revealing money problems at the club and that he was owed a lot of money. He apologised for what he called a misunderstanding and all parties seem happy again.

Player to watch:  Brand new signing Nikon Jevtic, nicknamed “el maestro” is a Serbian  player who was once called the saviour of Serbian football. After a youtube clip of him playing as a child, he was chased by clubs including Real Madrid and Manchester United but ended up playing in Germany, and is yet to fulfil his potential. At 19 years of age this is a real chance to take centre stage and the midfielder is happy to go forward as much as fulfil defensive responsibilities. He calls himself a goalscoring midfielder and is probably using Újpest as place to showcase his talents and get that bigger move. Either way, he has the potential to benefit himself and the club this season. Bizzarely, he changed his name, so on his British passport he is now known as Nikon El Maestro Jevtic.

Expectations: Consitency is the order of the day here and they could propell themselves up the table in no time. Forget relegation talk,  Újpest are one of only two clubs in Hungary who have never been relegated from the top flight, and last seasons final position of 6th is definitely acheivable. Off the field stability will help as will a win over arch rivals Ferencváros to avenge the 3-0 defeat earlier in the season.

Club: Ferencváros

Position: 9th

Season so Far: After a dreadful start, Ferencváros have been a team reborn after Lajos Detari’s appointment at the end of August. The former Bologna midfielder has brought new life into a struggling Fradi side that also crashed out of the Europa League in the 2nd Qualifying Round. Now unbeaten in six since the start of October, Hungary’s most decorated club have been making great strides up the table but still sit just four points ahead of the bottom two. However, a run of defeats could easily see them drop into the relegation scrap once again.

Player so Far: There haven’t been many stars in this underachieving Ferencváros side this season but Mark Otten has been a solid performer throughout – starting in all but one of Fradi’s league games. The Dutch centre back has an air of calmness about his play, and a hell of a shot from his trusty left boot. His signing from NEC in the summer was seen as a bit of a coup for Fradi, and if he can continue to perform like he has so far, he could turn out to be one of the signings of the season.

Player to Watch: Liban Abdi had a bit of a fall out with former boss, Laszlo Prukner in July, and Prukner vowed that the former Sheffield United man would never feature for Fradi again. But since his departure, Abdi has rebuilt some of his bridges at the Florian Albert Stadion and is now part of first-team plans again. The Somalian has plenty of talent, and he’ll be looking to build up some confidence to get back in that Ferencváros team once again.

Expectations: After last year’s 3rd place finish, no matter where Fradi finish this season, it’s going to be seen as a disappointment with a title challenge being expected back in July. The main problem has been their lack of goals – 16 in 17 league games – but with 8 goals coming in their last 5 games, they could be starting to turn their corner. Fradi currently sit 10 points off the Europa League spaces in 4th, so a run of successive wins could make that seem possible, but for a realist, consolidation should be the aim for this season, and then build under Detari next year.