Krisztián Németh, Re-finding Nemo

Features writer Bence Bocsak looks at the return to form of the man who once carried the hopes of a nation.

A whole nation’s hope was rested on Krisztián Németh following his emergence as a potential superstar. Hungary was finally going to have a true great playing for them, after years of struggle. Nemeth was going to lead this nation back to our glory days; he was going to be a Premiership star playing alongside Fernando Torres for Liverpool forming a deadly partnership with the Spaniard. Unfortunately though it wasn’t to be…

Németh’s career commenced with his local club Győri ETO where he spent a couple of years as a youth player before being snapped up by MTK Budapest, the club where he’d make a name for himself. Németh only spent a couple of months at his new club’s Academy before he was promoted to the first team, whilst also earning rave reviews with some eye catching performances for Hungary’s youth international sides.

He was quickly becoming one of the best strikers in the world at his age level. Therefore unsurprisingly he got his opportunity to showcase his talent for MTK Budapest’s first team towards the end of the 2005/06 season making 12 appearances and finding the net twice.

The following year, Németh’s quality became more and more evident as he established himself as a regular member of MTK. He bagged 12 goals in the Hungarian league that year and constantly faced media attentions due to speculation over his future. Many of Europe’s top clubs were after the Hungarian, however the eventual choice of Németh was Liverpool as he signed a three year contract with the Reds alongside his compatriot Andras Simon.

He began his Liverpool career on fire and helped the club’s Reserve side lift the Reserve Premier League in his first season, finishing the campaign as the top goalscorer. Many were now claiming it was only a matter of time until Németh got his chance for the first team.

During the summer of 2008, Németh made his first senior appearance for the Reds in a friendly match against Villareal. What followed next was an outstanding cameo from Németh again Rangers a couple of weeks later. The Hungarian assisted Yossi Benayoun’s goal before winning a penalty to ensure Liverpool’s victory.

Németh even had the chance to go out on loan that summer with a number of potential suitors looking to acquire the Hungarian’s services for a year including Leeds United.

However the striker was adamant that he wanted to fight his way into Benitez’s first team plans and thus refused to go out on loan.

6 months later though, still without a first team appearance Németh decided that he wanted a taste of competitive first team football and was subsequently sent out on loan to Championship side Blackpool.

Unfortunately his loan spell was cut short after fracturing his cheek bone on his debut and as a result he was sent back to Liverpool which came as a real disappointment for the Hungarian, and more worryingly injuries continued to affect his career whilst his time at Liverpool.

In the summer of 2009, he was finally fit and sharp raring to go and undoubtedly enjoying some of the best moments of his career.

First he bagged a brace for the Reds’ first team in Singapore and shone throughout the other friendly games he featured in, exciting Liverpudlians around the world as it appeared the striker was finally making his breakthrough.

Later that summer Németh also led Hungary to a third place finish in the U20 World Cup beating Italy in the semi-finals thanks to an extra time brace from the Liverpool striker. It was an achievement that brought a lot of hope for the nation back home as well as confirming further just how much potential Németh possessed.

However Németh’s latter years at Liverpool proved to be a real struggle for the Hungarian.

In the 2009/10 season the striker might have had a look in due to Liverpool’s injury problems with the likes of Fernando Torres being sidelined for much of the campaign. It subsequently meant the Reds finishing outside of the top four and ultimately led to Rafa’s sacking.

You can only wonder what would have been if Németh was in contention, however instead the Hungarian was sent out on loan in the summer to AEK Athens. Admittedly the forward struggled with injuries himself with the Greek club, an ankle injury which he sustained on international duty with Hungary would rule him out for several months during the latter stages of the campaign. Overall Németh showed glimpses of his quality at AEK as he managed to find the net just three times in 19 appearances for the club.

Following Benitez’s departure as manager of Liverpool, Roy Hodgson was the man who took over. The current England coach made some baffling decisions in the transfer market purchasing the likes of Chrisitan Poulsen and Paul Konchesky. However with Liverpool’s lack of striking options upfront, arguably one of the most shocking dealings he undertook was selling Németh to Olympiacos.

Németh struggled to fit into the Greek side’s first team plans and continuous injury problems prevented him from making a real claim for first team opportunities. Therefore he was loaned out to Olympiacos Volos.

Németh unfortunately continued to sustain little niggles here and there that halted his development as well as his performances at Volos with him only finding the back of the net once in 13 appearances.

Shockingly to add to his misery his contract was terminated with Olympiakos at the end of the season making Németh a free agent. However with no European suitors and still carrying an injury, the Hungarian struggled to find a club for himself. For most he was too much of a gamble to take and subsequently it left Krisztián in a bad state. Arguably the year 2011 was the darkest time of his short career thus far.

In the end he didn’t find a club for himself and returned to the team where it all began for him at MTK Budapest. During his short return to the club the Hungarian was mainly there to keep his fitness levels up and only made a few brief appearances for MTK who were battling to get back to the first division of Hungarian football following their shock relegation the previous year. Memorably Németh did manage to grab a goal on his return against Soproni VSE.

January 2012 proved to be the month where Németh’s revitalisation commenced. Once again match fit and determined to prove his doubters wrong. For the manager of RKC Waalwijk, Ruud Brood, Németh’s eagerness to get back to his best was admirable and therefore the Dutch coached signed the Hungarian.

Németh became an instant hit in the Eredvisie, playing just off the striker – a role he wasn’t even relatively familiar with; he helped to guide Waalwijk to one of the European spots in the league.

Now only a play off was left to determine their fate. RKC convincingly beat FC Twente in the 1st round however they fell short in the second and despite Nemeth scoring against Vitesse they suffered a 5-2 loss on aggregate. Nevertheless though, it appeared the Hungarian striker was finally back to his best.

With the departure of Ruud Brood from RKC – the manager who placed faith in Németh when he required it the most, there was no surprise that the Hungarian followed his coach to Roda.

At his new club Németh was no longer guaranteed a place in the starting line-up, and with star striker Malki ahead of him in the pecking order, the Hungarian had to make do with playing just behind the striker once again. His goal tally suffered as a result with Németh only managing to score twice all season, although that may have been partly down to Roda’s poor performances as the club merely escaped relegation from the Eredvisie.

This campaign, Malki left Roda opening up the door for Németh to play in his preferred role. Thus far I think it’s fair to say that the Hungarian has grabbed the opportunity with both hands and has been on an incredible run of form lately scoring four times and giving two assists in his last 6 matches.

Furthermore he has also bagged his first international goal for Hungary against Estonia and it appears he’s showing signs of his former self.

Unfortunately for Németh his career was blighted with injuries early on which has quite clearly affected his sharpness, he’s not as fast as he used to be, whereas before he very much relied on his pace to speed past opponents and put the ball into the back of the net. Nowadays he’s much more of a technical player who has a few tricks up his sleeve allowing him to hold the ball up when he plays upfront ultimately bringing others into play. He’s also become more clinical in front of goal and his confidence has evidently increased. Watching him on his current form is super and I hope it never stops.

More importantly if he continues to score on a regular basis and dominate matches for Roda, he’ll easily end up with 15-20 goals and 10-15 assists come the end of the campaign. We have seen players with that kind of stats go onto bigger and better things from the Eredvisie and many have also ended up in the Premier League. Therefore there’s a good chance that sooner or later we could see Németh make the step-up to a so called big league and continue his quest to prove his potential.

Personally if I was Németh, I’d probably opt to join a club in the Spanish, Italian or German top flight which is physically lighter than the Premier League. Especially with his injury record moving to England could be detrimental to his career as you need to have a high standard of fitness to be able to compete in the Premier League. For me the intensity and the pressure would be too much for him. Whereas in the Bundesliga or the Liga BVA he’ll get more space on the ball and will be in an environment that he’s more suited to and he’ll subsequently be able to flourish.

Nevertheless at the moment I’m just hoping he continues his extraordinary run of form, as with Németh we’re used to witnessing disappointment, mostly due to injuries. However if he keeps fit and finds the back of the net regularly there’s no doubt that he’ll be an asset for Roda and the National team.