Club: Slovan Liberec
With most of Slovan Liberec’s midfield absent through injury and suspension ahead of a crunch tie against Sparta Prague, Jindřich Trpišovský decided to roll the dice. Instead of opting to give fringe players the opportunity to play and make their mark, the ‘Czech Klopp’ turned to youth team and handed a 19-year-old by the name of Ondřej Machuča his senior debut.
It was a blood and thunder affair. Seven people were booked, including Machuča who was cautioned after 26-minutes. Machuča stayed on the park, carefully timed his tackles and passed with confidence. It was love at first sight.
Well, it’s all been a bit disappointing.
The year began in a promising manner: Machuča was a regular in the Slovan matchday squad where he would go on to make a number of appearances from the bench. As the season started to wind down, Trpišovský showed faith in the youngster, naming him in the starting lineups against the two Czech heavyweights, Viktoria Plzeň and Sparta Prague – though it must be said that his inclusion for the tie against Sparta was once again due to circumstance rather than form.
Uncapped at any level prior to the start of 2016, the midfielder made his debut for the Czech Under-20s in March and remained a constant of Pavel Hoftych’s squad for the next few months, culminating with a number of appearances in the prestigious Toulon tournament.
He had ingrained himself in the first-team picture at club level but was not yet a starter, and he had begun to take his first steps at international level. It was a perfectly acceptable and steady start to the year.
After the 2015-16 season ended, everything went downhill. With Liberec undergoing their customary summer rebuilding process, Ondřej Machuča dropped down the pecking order started to train with Slovan’s reserves. After a handful of appearances in the misleadingly titled Juniorská liga, Machuča was promoted back to the seniors. His return did not last long: After forty minutes of first-team action, he suffered an injury and would be ruled out for at least six weeks.
With Slovan Liberec yet again in flux, numerous first-team players have been shown the door. One of the major beneficiaries of this seemingly bi-annual crisis could be Machuča, who did make a brief return to first-team affairs after he recovered from his injury right at the end of last year.
Hopefully, those fleeting appearances signify that Machuča can make an impact in 2017.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 20th January 2017