Why he’s here
For Michael Luftner, 2013 was the year he truly broke out and became one of the best young centre-backs in the country. The year started off slowly, but steadily. By the time August came around and the end of the 2012-13 season he had become a mainstay in Teplice’s defence. Not to mention he had made his debut for the Czech under 21s.
Unfortunately, with the year coming to a close, a cruciate injury ended his upward trajectory and halted his progression. 2014 would be important.
The past year has been...
…up and down, but encouraging nonetheless.
The first half of the year was always going to be a write-off and it was. No sleep lost there.
Michael Luftner returned to first team action during the summer as Teplice began their pre-season preparations. By the time the opening league match came around, the twenty-year-old was back at the heart of a defence that had missed his presence. In the first few weeks, his performances varied. He put in an excellent shift against Slavia Prague and helped keep Michal Skoda and Bekim Balaj quiet, but these were often counteracted by more worrying displays. His frankly ridiculous showing against Mlada Boleslav – where he was sent off after a torrid forty-eight minutes – characterised somebody who was finding his feet once more. Crucially though he was given time and for the majority of the autumn, he was on the pitch and playing football.
One of the main issues that has blighted Teplice this season has been the inability to perform when away from Na Stinadlech. On their own turf, the Glassblowers have conceded seven times. Not outstanding by any means, but by no means an abysmal record. Yet as soon as they leave the comforts of their own home they forget even the most basic of instructions and tasks, Luftner included. This travel sickness is a real blot on an otherwise solid copy book.
But there is a very good, consistent centre-back lurking inside Michael Luftner and from what we’ve seen in the months he’s been active in 2014, this really should come to the fore over the course of the next twelve months. He has played in both a back three and a back four under Zdenek Scasny’s tutelage and shown the versatility needed to succeed in both systems. 2014 has been a year of rediscovering the form that made him one to watch and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be the main man of the Teplice backline for years to come.
If 2014 was all about consolidation, returning to full fitness, form and first-team football, then 2015 must be the year for him to improve. There are solid foundations in place and it’s hard to really point out one major flaw in his game. He has a good platform to build upon.
Since his return, he has made one just the one appearance for Jakub Dovalil’s Lion Cubs, but with Jakub Brabec and Jan Baranek, not to mention Tomas Kalas, as direct competition, a summer playing football for his country appears to be a slim prospect.
But given he spent ten months out that is to be expected, and it could turn out to be beneficial.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 3rd January 2015