Q & A with Tomasz Mortimer Ahead of the New Season

Tomasz Mortimer answers questions from BestOfTheBets ahead of the new Hungarian Season

The betting on the National Championship would suggest that it’s a straight battle between holders Videoton and 2010 winners Debrecen for the title. Is this a fair assessment or do you expect to see others challenging this season?

I would say it’s more of a one horse race. Videoton have a far superior squad to anyone else in the league, and with other teams like Debrecen failing to improve their side over the summer, I can’t see them launching a title challenge this season. I also expect Ferencváros to be ahead of Loki come the end of the season.

Paks caused a surprise by claiming second place behind Videoton, having finished just one spot above the relegation places the previous season. Are the smaller clubs able to compete in the National Championship?

Yes, I think so, to a point. NBI doesn’t have the ‘big sides’ like other European leagues such as La Liga or the EPL anymore, and you regularly see a ‘smaller club’ like Paks last season, and Haladás the year before competing at the higher echelons of the league.

At the other end of the table, 2008 champions MTK have been relegated. Do you envisage any other sides of similar standing struggling in the coming campaign?

I think MTK was a bit of a one off. Their chairman was offloading every good player that they had for his own personal gain, and that is a unique situation to the Hungarian League. Before last season many tipped MTK to struggle and they did. I can’t see anything of the so called ‘bigger clubs’ suffering the same fate this season.

What chances do the sides promoted from NB II Keleti and NB II Nyugati – Diosgyor and Pecs – have of staying up? Can newly promoted clubs make an impact on the National Championship?

I think it’s hard for any club coming from the second tier to stay in NBI, and that has been the case over recent years. It’s been very rare to see both promoted sides to stay in NBI. DVTK won 14 consecutive games in NBII last season to claim the title, and along with Pecs, they both have fairly good squads, but I think they’ll both struggle, and I predict DVTK will go down.

Do Hungarian sides have a preference for lining up domestically with specific tactics or in a particular formation? Do they carry these tactics in to European competition?

Most sides in Hungary like to play 4-4-1-1 with a trequarista playing behind the front man, so we don’t see a lot of flamboyancy when it comes to tactics. It’s hard to really compare tactics to the European ties, because Hungarian sides usually play 4 games in Europe a season, but they tend to keep the same formation / tactics no matter who they face.

Videoton’s title was the first in their history, and they now make their debut in the Champions League. Can they get past Sturm Graz of Austria in the qualifying round? Is an appearance in the group stage possible?

Videoton have a superb squad which includes some full Hungarian internationals like Gabor Horvath, Zoltán Lipták and Akos Elek, and I expect them to give Sturm a real good battle. It’s a really hard game to call, but if star-man Andre Alves is on form who knows what could happen – I really think it could go either way. With regards to Vidi getting to the group stage, I can’t really see it happening. They obviously have experience at the helm with Paulo Sousa, but none of the players have played in Europe before, and with them being unseeded in the draw, I think it’s a very big ask for them to get to the group stages.

Having fallen out of the Champions League qualifiers, Debrecen qualified for the group stages of last season’s Europa League. With three Hungarian sides playing in the preliminary rounds this week, can any of them replicate this achievement? How far can they go?

I don’t think any of them will get past the second qualifying round. Paks have drawn Norweigan league leaders Tromso who will blow away Zold-feherek in my opinion. Ferencváros have also got a tough draw, and they’ll also have to go to Norway to face Aaeslund which will be an extremely tricky tie. Finally KTE have got the mammoth trip to Kazakhstan to look forward too, where they will play Aktobe. Another difficult tie which I don’t think the Hungarian team will overcome.

Over 50% of the league games in the National Championship last season were won by the home side. Does home advantage play a key role in Hungarian football?

It seems to be a massive advantage in Hungary. I don’t know if it’s the travel, the hostility or just the familiarity and home comforts but it’s very rare to see more than 2 away wins in an NBI weekend. This is also quite surprising because the attendances are so low in Hungary, sometimes the players must feel like they’re not even playing in front of anyone!

Like several European leagues, Hungary takes in a three month winter break. Does the rest period appear to help the division’s bigger clubs? Are they difficult opposition to face when the season recommences?

I don’t think it’s a real advantage to any team in the division to be honest. It could sometimes be an inconvenience for the high fliers who could be on a winning streak of five games, and their momentum could be interrupted by the winter break, and this could stifle their flow. The transfer window is obviously open during the winter too, so the ‘bigger clubs’ could lose some of their best players to better leagues and that could affect their title challenge.

Any there any up-and-coming young players emerging in Hungary who will soon be catching the eye of clubs in some of Europe’s bigger leagues?

Bence Lazar is one to definitely look out for. Lazar shot on to the scene last February, and he scored 8 goals in 13 games for Ujpest. He can play on the wing or as a striker, and his desire to get in front of the defender to knick a goal is very special from someone so young. He’s only 20, so I think we should expect more of this kid. A few more to look out for are; Krisztian Simon, Roland Szolnoki, Andras Gosztonyi & Attila Fiola.

Videoton’s Brazilian forward Andre Alves led the scoring charts with 24 goals last season. Do you think his success could lead the way for more South American players to join Hungarian clubs in the future?

I think that’s certainly the case, and Ferencváros have indeed strengthened their side with three Brazilians and two Argentineans. I think the flair that the South Americans provide is something that lights up NBI and that is rarely seen from the home grown talent.

Despite that first ever league title, Videoton dismissed their coach Gyorgy Mezey and have replaced him with Portuguese icon Paulo Sousa. Is there any sense behind this move or is it a case of the owners wanting success that is beyond their means? Could this lead to other clubs feeling unsatisfied with their more than respectable achievements?

I think it’s unfair to say they ‘dismissed’ him. Mezey will be 70 in September, and his contract was up at the end of the 2010/2011 season anyway, so I think Vidi were right to bring in someone new as they are looking to the future, and it’s hard to look to the future when they have a man of 69 at the helm. I think the appointment of Sousa was a bit strange though. He obviously doesn’t know the league at all, and if he doesn’t get his own way with the signings he wants to bring in or doesn’t get the funds to splash out on new players, I can see him throwing his toys out the pram and leaving. Only time will tell.


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