Written by Kevin McCluskie
Replacing Serhiy Rebrov as Ferencvaros manager was never going to be an easy task for whoever landed the job in the summer. Over his three years in charge, the Ukrainian not only re-established Ferencvaros as the dominant force in Hungary but also put them back on the map in European competition with Group Stage appearances in both the Champions and Europa Leagues.
The man chosen to continue Rebrov’s work and take Ferencvaros to the next level was the Austrian Peter Stöger, an unpopular choice with the Fradista from the outset due to his links with Austria Wien, great rivals of Rapid Wien with whom Fradi has a long-established fan friendship.
Hired by the Fradi hierarchy to bring a more modern and attack-minded philosophy to the club – one bone of contention with Rebrov was that his style of play was too pragmatic for Ferencvaros – Stöger made an impressive start to life at Ferencvaros, guiding them through the opening two rounds of Champions League Qualification with ease.
However, an opening day league defeat at home to Kisvarda, the club’s first home league defeat in over 3 years, was enough to undo a lot of his early good work in the eyes of a sizeable number of the Fradi fanbase.
Consecutive 3-2 defeats at the hands of Young Boys in the Champions League Play-Off and subsequent failure to achieve the main objective of Champions League Group Stage football did little to help the Austrian’s cause.
A revival in league form and encouraging performances, if not results, against Bayer Leverkusen and Real Betis in the Europa League did appear to have Stöger winning round some of his doubters as his side gathered plaudits for their attacking approach.
However, following the double defeat at the hands of Celtic, and the ease with which the Scottish side were able to swat Ferencvaros aside over both games, the knives are back out as Fradi’s European adventure has come to a premature end with two Europa League games still to play.
Even before the final whistle on Thursday evening the Groupama resounded in jeers and chants of Auf Wiedersehen towards Stöger as the fans showed their displeasure at a second European exit of the season. An exit that saw Fradi limp out of the Europa League without so much as whimper.
Now the question is what happens next for Peter Stöger.
The fans – certainly those in attendance on Thursday – want him gone as quickly as possible. The Fradi hierarchy, however, insist that he is still the right man for the job and needs time to implement his methods. Stöger himself is on record stating that he has no intention of resigning.
With only domestic competitions to focus on for the remainder of the season, the upcoming Betis and Leverkusen ties being dead rubbers, Ferencvaros will need to put their European disappointment behind them quickly and focus on going on a lengthy unbeaten run up to the winter break to have any hope of getting the fans back onside again.
Fortunately, perhaps, for Stöger is the upcoming International break following this Sunday’s trip to league leaders Kisvarda. A win in that fixture would put Ferencvaros top with a game in hand going into the break, regain some lost confidence, and give the Austrian two weeks to work with his players before the next league game against Fehervar.
A second defeat of the season against Kisvarda is an almost unthinkable proposition that would leave the Ferencvaros hierarchy with a very difficult decision to make.
Ultimately, Stöger already has the look of a dead-man walking. Unwanted by the fans, failure to meet European objectives, and in poor form domestically of late it may be the case that even a league title or domestic double may not be enough to secure a second season in Budapest.