The off-field revolution and Scottish invasion continued at Budapest Honvéd yesterday with the Kispest club announcing the appointment of 40-year-old former Kelty Hearts and Dundee United manager Tam Courts as the new man in the dugout for the coming season.
Courts arrival in Budapest comes hot on the heels of fellow Scot and former Dundee United Technical Consultant Chris Docherty’s recent arrival at the club as Sporting Director from Croatian side Hajduk Split.
A largely unknown name in Hungarian football circles, Courts appointment as successor to Serbian coach Nebojsa Vignjevic came as a surprise to most observers of the game in Hungary and has been viewed as a somewhat left-field move by Honvéd.
However, given Courts previous working relationship with Docherty from their time together at Dundee United, his arrival in the Hungarian capital is perhaps not so much of a shock after all.
In his one full season in charge at United, Courts led the Dundee outfit to a highly respectable fourth-place finish in the Scottish Premiership, bringing about the return of European football to Tannadice Park for the 2022/23 season.
Courts achieved some memorable results last season, especially against Glasgow giants Celtic and Rangers. He masterminded a victory over Rangers on matchday two of the 2021/22 season, bringing to an end the Ibrox club’s 40 games unbeaten league run. In addition, United bookended their campaign with respectable draws against Champions Celtic at both Celtic Park and Tannadice.
Under Courts, United maintained its long-standing tradition of giving youth a chance with no less than 16 Academy graduates making the grade last season. Famed for their own youth academy, we may see a more youthful Honvéd side next season with the likes of returning loanees Dávid László and Kristóf Tóth-Gábor looking to force their way into the new manager’s plans.
At United, Courts garnered a reputation for his ability to mould a disciplined and well-organised side that played to their strengths of youthful enthusiasm and defensive stability. The latter masking United’s lack of consistent goal threat throughout the season.
But that last point should not worry fans of Honvéd.
Despite his relative inexperience as a manager, Courts is smart. He understands how to get the best out of his players and most importantly, how to play the occasion; see the results against Celtic and Rangers as proof.
Courts will not be phased by the prospect of having to win over the Honvéd support. The Federation of Dundee United Supporters’ Clubs infamously wrote to the club questioning Courts appointment last summer, highlighting concerns that Courts only previous managerial experience had come in the Lowland League with Kelty Hearts.
Courts proceeded to win over a large number of United fans with his committed and dedicated approach, and most importantly, by achieving results on the pitch.
The move to Honvéd is a bold step in Courts burgeoning career but one that the ambitious Scot is confident he can take in his stride. He has already spoken of his desire to bring real success to Honvéd. A first NBI title since 2017 and the days of Marco Rossi may be a stretch, but Courts will not be satisfied until Honvéd is back amongst the honours on a regular basis.
Welcome to Hungary Tam. Sok szerencsét.