Marek Havlík is (was?) a criminally underrated footballer, who stood in the shadow of teammates with ‘bigger’ stories.
At one point, a couple of years back, Slovácko were the embodiment of mediocrity; the Czech version of a modern-day Stoke City. The Uherské Hradiště-based club were never in any real fear of being relegated, possessed some good players and could bloody the nose of better opposition from time-to-time.
That statement still vaguely stands, though they are by no means the První liga’s measuring stick. Their current crop of players is nowhere near as good as the vintages of 2014 and 2015 – when they had the goals of Libor Došek, the creativity of Luboš Kalouda and the gumption of Michal Trávník – but, crucially, it isn’t bad group.
And one name who links the good side of a few seasons ago with the current one is Marek Havlík.
It’s been a pretty average for Havlík – all things considered. But then again, it’s been a pretty average year for Slovácko too, and we can’t help but think that there’s some kind of link between club and player.
The midfielder had a very good end to 2015, continued that form through into 2016 and ended the 2015-16 season with six assists and four goals. And just to add icing to the cake, he was Slovácko’s most creative player, per the league’s statistics. With Kalouda suffering from injuries and Trávník snapped up by Jablonec, Marek Havlík had certainly stepped up to bring imagination to an otherwise straightforward side.
This season though is a different story as during the summer, Svatopluk Habanec, Slovácko’s manager of four years, left the club to try and wake up the Czech Republic’s sleeping giants, Zbrojovka Brno.
Habanec’s replacement, Stanislav Levý, has not had the best of times since arriving inUherské Hradiště. The former Blau-Weiß Berlin midfielder has had health problems and struggled to get a rather limited team playing with any potency until the end of November. This turbulence has, of course, affected Havlík. Whilst still a first-team regular, his performances have dipped massively. This season he has attempted fewer forward runs and completed fewer key passes in the final third compared to the same stage last season. His normally solid pass completion percentage has dropped as well.
Worryingly, he isn’t just struggling with the attacking side of his game. Once, he used to nip around the field, win the ball quickly and take the occasional swipe at people’s ankles. Now, he’s being bypassed far too easily.
And the final blow? He’s no longer a regular at Under-21 level.
A good start to the year wiped out by an abysmal end to it.
With nearly 100 top flight games under his belt at the age of 21, it’s no longer good enough to simply be a first team regular. Havlík has the talent to dictate games; it’s time he started pulling the strings of Slovácko’s midfield once more.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 20th January 2017