A two-time Hungarian title winner as coach of Vác FC and Ferencvárosi TC, János Csank is showing his pedigree again, having lifted struggling Zalaegerszegi TE into contention for a European place next season.
With six wins in their first eight games of 2009 and no defeats, the 2002 Hungarian champions have surged up to third in the table. A 2-1 defeat of second-placed Debreceni VSC on 8 April underlined their class, and that of their 62-year-old coach, who led Hungary to within a two-legged play-off of the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
The former goalkeeper, who won the title with Vác in 1994 and Ferencváros in 2001, is thinking big, saying: "The long-term plan is to create a club that has real power and will battle for the title every year. In east Hungary, Debrecen have proved that sides from outside Budapest can compete and we would be their west Hungarian rivals."
Csank has already shown that he has the ability to make things happen. The club were 13th in the 16-team table when he took over from Attila Supka in October but have now put relegation concerns firmly behind them. "The players had to understand that we have one goal and that is success. Football is only a game but it is brutally serious sometimes."
The increased efficiency of global scouting has forced Csank to change some of his old ways, and finding new players has been a problem. "In the old days I watched lower league matches and signed the best players for Vác but now the talents are already in the top division or abroad," he sighed. "There are fewer players than 20 years ago."
However, the shrinkage of the talent pool has not stopped him dreaming of glory with his new club. "At Vác we had an amazing squad and at Üllői út we had maybe the weakest Ferencváros team to win the league," he recalled. "Here we have quite a few players like former internationals Róbert Waltner, András Horváth or Tamás Szamosi but we need more strength in depth to become a real force next season."
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