The last two years it has been a case of scraping a title. Could we make it three in a row?
Two more faces came in before the transfer window shut as i added a 4th Hungarian U19 international in the form of goalkeeper Zsolt Szamosi who will be the new number 2 at the club behind veteran Nagy. Zsolt cost a princely £250k but is the by far the best goalkeeping prospect in the country.
My second signing was Italian right back Riccardo Fiamozzi who was snapped up on a free transfer and will provide competition to Patrick Ikenne-King. I have largely moved for him as i agreed to let Mijalovic go to Gotenburg for £500k after having a pretty poor 15 months at the club to be honest and to double my money was good enough for me.
I was craving a european run and i finally got one at the 3rd time of asking. Having drawn 2-2 against Qarabag at home, we needed a special away performance to seal our place in the 3rd Qualifying Round. We got exactly that as Cekici and Gouffran ran the show to seal us a 4-2 victory on the night and a 6-4 aggregate victory.
Our reward was APOEL as expected. We went away to Cyprus and had chances, plenty of them but we just failed to convert any and we were eventually punished twice as we lost 2-0 in the first leg. We needed a big start to the 2nd leg to have a shot and again we just couldn't score and APOEL got one just before half time. A mountain was needed in 45 minutes and we got a small mound as we pegged the match back to 1-1 and went out 3-1 on aggregate
However, a 3rd Qualifying round knockout gets you a shot at the Europa League where we were drawn against Steaua Bucharest in the final qualifying round. On paper our toughest tie yet. The first leg was at home and we took the lead in the 22nd minute through a rate Eteme goal. We were pegged back but eventually sub Daniel Prosser added a 2nd to give us a 2-1 victory after the first leg.
In Bucharest we went for the counter and when Kolarov got sent off for the home side we were not only a man up but still leading the tie. That extra man was all the difference as Koman slotted home to give us a 1-0 victory in Romania and a 3-1 win on aggregate to put us in the group stages.
Thats the first time in game a Hungarian side has made the group stages and we were as expected seeded 4th. Our group consists of Schalke, Maribor and Rennes. We are two games down and we gave Rennes a massive scare in France before eventually succumbing 3-1 before rolling over on our bellies for Schalke who best us comfortably 3-0. The group stages were always going to be a tough stage for us and realistically i am just looking to finish above Maribor. The co-efficient points is all i care about having been ranked a lowly 369th in Europe. This run should at least move me into the 200's and might mean we get some seeding in the future.
OTP Bank Liga
It is lucky the European run has been there as the league has seen us pull out our worst stretch of 11 games since i took charge.
We are somewhat lucky that everyone is being inconsistent and that we are just 5 points off of the lead. Interestingly newly promoted Ajka lead the pile as that was the only team we have played well against as we smashed them 4-0. We are just not finishing teams off at the moment and although we are a tad better defensively we have lost some of that attacking flair that has seen us top scorers for the last two years.
I have tweaked the settings of the team moving them from a standard to an attacking mentality and that has seen us pull out a couple of victories and it might just mean we need to be more attacking given our new stature as the favourites for the league title.
We need to be better and that is a fact. Cekici has gone off the boil a tad but still leads the scoring with 6 whilst Gouffran has done well on the right hand side. The killer is a lack of a striker and we miss the days of Matt Derbyshire banging them in. I have really struggled on FM16 for strikers and i just dont know why.
The midfield has been solid with Goncalo and Koman leading the average ratings for the side. In defence we have struggled with only Ikenne-King standing out with 5 assists from right back.
On a side note, our European run has seen our bank balance soar to its highest yet at £3.5m and the board have agreed to do the youth facilities . Fingers crossed it wont get cancelled this time
Honours: OTP Bank Liga Champions 2017, 2018