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21.09.2015, 15:50
“Roma locuta est; causa finita est."
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BLOG: Tom ponders the "why?" of Carlos Ortega's early season departure from VELUX EHF Champions League contenders Veszprem.
 

“Roma locuta est; causa finita est."

For those of you tuning into a post-match blog about the seriously brilliant defensive displays of both Rhein-Neckar Löwen and Barcelona, I’m sorry to disappoint. It was a game for the purist, no doubt, but the real talking point of today is the situation at Veszprem.

During my early arrival at Mannhein, a story appeared on Handball Planet (god knows how they do it) about the sacking of Carlos Ortega from Veszprem. It was just as quickly taken down and thus the shroud of mystery was over the story. It has become clearer today that, it is actually the case.

Carlos Ortega is no longer the coach of Veszprem. I hear the vox populi shriek “Nooooooooooo”.

But;

“Roma locuta est; causa finite est."

Rome has spoken; the case is closed. For Rome substitute Veszprem. After the cries of “No”, the question “Why?” rears its head.

The answer to that question is shrouded in mystery and only the powers that be could ever answer it.

But we can speculate, we can surmise and generally among all the assumption and presumption the truth will lie.

The fact is that Veszprem is a handball goldfish bowl. Every match is microscopically dissected and reviewed. The quality of performance is just as important as the win. It is a fish eye lens of a universe that centres around handball. The town lives it, breathes it; like a religion. It is one of the most stressful jobs (I would imagine) in world handball.

When I look back at my early pictures of the coaching team of Carlos Ortega and Xavi Sabate on their arrival at Veszprem, I see two very young men. The rigours of the job have left both looking much older than when they first appeared. This, I must add, is my personal view; there are those who would agree to differ.

But when you take on a job like this, you know that it will cause you fatigue, heartache and sleepless nights. But with that comes some “quid pro quo”. You must be given, in return, some trust, time and respect. Far be it from me to say that this hasn’t been given, but when we look at the results of Veszprem in the last three years under the coaching team, it seems that at this moment, those three details are sorely lacking.

The sporting world is littered with cases like this. But there are also examples of where time and trust led to greatness. Alex Ferguson is the prime example. In his first six years with Man United he won precious little. The owners stuck by him and the club entered the most glorious reign of its history.

Handball is becoming a cutthroat world. More and more teams are investing heavily to win. Veszprem is not alone in this. And yet under Ortega they have risen dramatically in the ranks. This year, their pre-season form looked like they had carried on from where they left off. Then there was the super globe!  A defeat to Berlin! My feeling is that this left the powers that be fuming. Follow that with a draw in Plock and Carlos must have been walking a tightrope.

Why? Because Veszprem must win!

And yet Barcelona, a club who also demands success has stuck with Xavi Pascual through all the tough times. A defeat to Flensburg in that 2014 VELUX EHF FINAL4. A defeat to Berlin in the same super globe as Veszprem. But during all the time faith and trust were placed in the hands of Pascual and he rewarded them with another Champions League trophy.

It’s a matter of philosophy. A club mantra. A way to do business.

And far be it from me to interfere in club policy with Veszprem, but I happen to like Carlos Ortega. I happen to find him a gentleman with a great vision of the game. Under his coaching, Veszprem became no longer a team of underdogs striving to succeed, but a team of great quality, playing a game that was pleasing on the eye. His work at Veszprem cannot be underestimated.

And given time who knows what he might have achieved.

Renato Vugrinec once told me of all the heartache that Celje suffered in CL until that great win. He said; “Sometimes you just have to wait in line”.

I must state quite clearly now, that I have no inside knowledge of the decision making process of the club, but the coming days will no doubt bring rumours of back room squabble, player unrest, changes of approach. It is the nature of media. But one thing is for sure, Carlos Ortega will be a huge loss to Veszprem. What I would have given to see whether he could have won this year, to go from 3rd to 2nd to 1st. We will never see that now.

The big question is who can replace him. It is a team of superstars, of that there is no doubt. And it is not that long ago that we were talking of a coach in Paris, who could not bring a team of superstars together.

Carlos did that. And he brought a human element to the game. The tear he shed when the Veszprem fans chanted his name the first time he brought them to Cologne is a memory to be cherished forever.

Veszprem has lost a good man and the manner of his dismissal leaves a sour taste.

But as in life, sport goes on. This weekend we have the chance to see in sharp relief the effect it will have on the team.

We are there for MOTW. I have some very good friends at Veszprem and I am looking forward to talking with them. It is still a great club. It is still a great team. In the end the choice is theirs and theirs alone and in this they will always do what they believe is in the best interests of the club.

Whatever the future holds, the new coach will have a hard act to follow.

Carlos, we salute you and wish you the best in your future endeavours.


TEXT: Tom O'Brannagain, ehfTV commentator
 
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