Hiding in Plain Sight (Vasas FC vs. Siófok)

Workrate can be deceiving in football. A player can bustle around for 90 minutes with plenty of the ball and yet hold back his team through lack of intent. When players start to think that running around, making sideways passes and looking busy are the same as having purpose, teams get into trouble. Yes, the manager can’t fault the workrate, but matches aren’t won with directionless effort.

It’s why industrious Vasas winger Benedek Murka – who had more of the ball than anyone – did nothing but chip it limply into the Siófok keeper’s hands time after time like a Sunday golfer laying up on the green. It doesn’t take skill, it’s unimaginative and it’s easier than actually trying to pick out a player or thread a difficult pass. It’s lazy percentage football: frustrating as hell and rarely effective. It stems from a fear of risk. Genuine intent is missing.

It’s also why a player like Ádám Balajti is so important to this Vasas team. A player who long ago decided to give up wearing shinpads in favour of creating an invisible suit of armour entirely out of ego, which goes some way to explaining why he’s the best player on the pitch. Ego brings confidence, and confidence brings intent. Sure, he doesn’t score today but he’s the only player in blue and red who looks like he could. Balajti has purpose in every touch, the ball magnetically held to his feet as he plays others in and creates space. It’s a shame Vasas often can’t give him the service he deserves.

Ádám Balajti, the shinpad eschewing Han Solo of NBII. Photo courtesy of the Vasas website.

Siófok played the willing panto villains in this one: tackles later than an Italian business meeting, shirts and shorts pulled, theatrical diving…but if you’re going to do it, do it well. A quick break brings them a dubious free kick, and Magasfoldi puts them 1-0 up on 32 minutes – Vasas goalkeeper Balázs Bese (with his affable 1940s wartime-child haircut) wrongfooted by a cruel deflection.

Early in the second half and it’s 2-0 to the visitors. A wonderful Scholes-esque finish from the edge of the box by young Siófokian midfielder Reti all but ends the home team’s chances of starting the new year with a victory. It’s a sweet strike and the 20 year-old looks rightly jubilant as he’s mobbed by white shirts. It’s definitely one for his YouTube highlight video.

Vasas huff and puff after going two down, but again it’s inaction disguised as industry. Shakespeare once wrote of Macbeth “letting ‘I dare not’ wait upon ‘I would”, but it’s another tragic Shakespearian character who the home team remind me of today. Like Hamlet, Vasas sit on the pot but it remains unbeshatted. They don’t show enough intent to drag themselves back into the game, each player (Balajti aside) hoping that someone else will provide the spark. If the Vasas wingers were given a bonus every time they halfheartedly flung a nothing ball into the Siófok box, they’d be wealthy men.

Young prospect Robert Rétyi comes on but he’s also caught the indecision bug and takes too many touches too many times. He’s got something promising about him but will need to get up to speed at this level if he’s to provide a genuine attacking outlet. You simply can’t afford to take so much time on the ball, even in NBII.

And Vasas do indeed need strength up front because the transfer window has led to the loss of one of my favourite players, the brickiest of brick shithouses: Ádám Martin. The big man has departed to league leaders Kaposvári Rákóczi and could be returning to the top flight next year at this rate. All the best to you sir – may you smash many more defenders in your time. Kaposvári have got themselves a good footballer – as long as he doesn’t come back to haunt us I’ll wish him well.

Ádám Martin: Destroying men since 1994. MTI Fotó: Koszticsák Szilárd

Vasas 0-2 Siófok (Attendance 700)

Not a great start to 2019 for the boys in blue and red – they need to start being more decisive on the ball. A bit of ring-rust is understandable after the winter break, but their promotion push will soon be derailed with more results like this. Hopefully this is just a blip after what was a pretty successful run into Christmas.

Notes on other teams I follow:

Middlesbrough came from behind in glorious fashion at West Brom to win 3-2 and put themselves back in contention for promotion in the Championship. Britt Assombalonga grabbed a couple.

In Bahrain, Al Shabab are last in the Premier League and looking dead and buried. Difficult times.


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