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19/12/1925: Becske interviews Guttmann

Author: Isaque Argolo | Creation Date: 2022-10-25 15:07:16

Data providers: Isaque Argolo.
Frigyes Becske | 19/12/1925, Vienna —

In the afternoon, the Hakoah faithful gather at the Atlashof Café and in the evening at Café Altes Rathaus. Instead of last year's joy and cheerfulness, a mood of despair and sadness prevails on the farms. When fortune and success desert a team, harmony and peace follow in their wake, and the partisans and concubines can continue their intrigues unhindered. Doubt and despair are hotbeds of discord. I visited the Atlashof to study the atmosphere in the clubhouse and to learn about the reasons for the demolition of the champion team, and was therefore delighted to find the former coach of Hakoah for four years and the team's spiritual leader, Béla Guttmann. After all, he was the one who first and foremost instilled the old MTK traditions into Hakoah, he is the one who knows best the conditions at the club and he is the one who can shed the most light on the reasons that led to the demise of the team that had such a good run last year.
Guttmann seems to enjoy pouring his heart out to a fellow countryman and begins his lamentations in a tone of great sadness:
Guttmann: First of all, I want to tell you that Hakoah has refused to grant my request for repatriation. This is probably a sign of gratitude for services and the work I have done for my Association. For four years, I have tried with unstinting energy to sow in the team the seeds of the school and the system which I have come to know as the only right and salutary thing in football, under the hand of Master Hogan at MTK. That I have succeeded in this, too, is proved by the tremendous success of the team, whose great achievements in two parts of the world are testimony to this. Already at the end of last season, certain intrigues began to be directed against me by some of the club's managers, so that I was considering leaving. Had I not been offered an extremely advantageous one-year contract at the last minute, I would still be playing football for Amateure. Unfortunately, it didn't happen that way. Under the influence of women, I changed my original intention and accepted Hakoah's offer. Now, in hindsight, I regret my actions.
» I am not one of those players who is satisfied with playing the games and then collecting the salary on the first and calling it a day. I have sporting ambitions, and I fulfilled them when I decided to establish a famous system at Hakoah. Well, what I had built up over four years of hard work was successfully destroyed in a few months by untrained hands.
» First of all, they made sure that I lost my authority in front of the team members. In open players' meetings, department manager Baar repeatedly used a tone towards me that, although I am now an employee of the club, I must still consider ungrateful, inconsiderate and unjustified.
» But the second move by department manager Baar went deeper than these personal grievances. For he has completely missed the method which I, believing in the Robertson, Hogan, MTK school, introduced at Hakoah and whose viability I have proved, and has adopted the so-called flapping style — your own snitch, with his splashing, scrambling, and ineffectual rushing, and he wants the players to cultivate it as the only way to play the game in today's changed system.
» However, most of our players are technical players and tend to combine, and in addition, from a physical point of view, they do not have the prerequisites for the hurrá style. So it's no wonder that they don't play any style anymore. According to my experience, everything has remained the same with the new offside rule, the teams have to play the same as they played before, only the two full-backs need to be faster, and the two insiders have to have great knowledge and endurance.
» The new system, or disorganization, then became the cause of the series of defeats we suffered this season against the same team that could hardly be beaten last year. They are now blaming me for these defeats in the association, saying that I am slacking off just to prove the wrongness of the new system.
» The team has been stripped of its system, and then they marvel at the fact that it goes from defeat to defeat. I was satisfied with the matter, although I try to do the best I can in every match.
» I feel that my activities are pointless in the midst of such circumstances, and I am firmly resolved to leave Hakoah for good. I know Schwartz is also dealing with the intention of returning home.
— And where do you gravitate to? — I ask Guttmann.
Guttmann: Of course, I would prefer to go home to MTK.
» I am very saddened by the failure of my mother club and would be happy to contribute to the renaissance of blue and white. But if my plan doesn't come to fruition, there are other clubs outside Hakoah that could use me! I know that people back home have been resenting me since my poor showing in Paris, but you know that I was ill at the time and lost 8 kilos in Paris. Since then, I've proved enough times that I can play. Against Sparta, all the papers said I was better than Káďa and you know the criticisms after the game against Bolton Wanderers.
— I know them well, my dear Béla, after all, Meisl himself wrote in the Kicker that he considered you the best centre-half in Vienna and still holds that view today. I, too, am of the opinion that the Paris incident was just the kind of unfortunate confluence of circumstances that every man can recall when he looks back over the course of his life. Moving the conversation on to another subject, I asked Guttmann who he thought was the best player in Vienna:
Guttmann: Of all the players in Vienna, I think Konrád II. is by far the best. What Gyuri Orth means to MTK, Csámi means to the Amateurs. He brings two class players to the team he plays for. Next to Orth and Konrád II., only Buchan should be mentioned. Scarone, Petrone, Rydell, Andrade etc may have the same virtuosity, but what puts Orth, Konrád II. and Buchan above them is their depth of grinding instinct and substance. The young Slósi and Spéci were only worthy of them in this respect.
— And set up two continental national teams.
Guttmann: A difficult task, but I know the players of almost all the countries, I can do it:
» It would be a team of excellence:
Wieser Harder Piera
Johansson S. Rydell
Hagen Friberg Fessler
» Style team:
Hirzer Orth Cutti
Dvořáček Konrád II.
Manager: Alfréd Schaffer. 150.000 spectators from all over the world. Dancing in the evening. Director: Guttmann.
The disgruntled former Hakoah captain plans happily with sparkling eyes. He's not even mad at Hakoah anymore. He would give up a year's salary to watch this match. These golden-hearted Hungarian football players are their strange, enthusiastic, imaginative bohemian sons.