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  • Writer's pictureSimon Basten

Manager Series: Ferenc Molnar

Updated: Sep 6, 2023

Ferenc Molnar was manager for Lazio in the 1928-29 season (coming in for Augusto Rangone), 1929-30 (fired after just three games, but later recalled), 1930-31 season (sacked during the second half of the season) and 1940-41.


Ferenc Molnar is first from left standing. Source Wikipedia

Molnar was born in Erd, near Budapest, on April 8, 1891. He played from 1907 to 1920 for MTK Budapest before coming to Italy as player-manager in the 1920s. He signed for Spes Genova for the 1920-21 season, Spezia the year after and Anconitana in 1923-24. In 1924 he was manager at Entella, and player manager for Verona for the 1924-25 season.


After his last year as player-manager for Olympia Fiume in 1925-26 he concentrated on his coaching career first with Biellese (1926-27) followed by Andrea Doria, Napoli and Casale.


In 1929 he was called to Lazio by President Remo Zenobi. It had been a tough year for Lazio, as far as managers were concerned, but we’ll come to that later.


The 1928-29 season was going to be the final year with the national division divided into two groups of 16 teams. The top eight of each group would qualify for the first Serie A single group in 1929-30, the next six would qualify for Serie B, the last two would play the First Division (basically Serie C). Lazio were in group B.


Lazio started the season terribly, losing the first three matches. At this point manager Franz Sedlaceck was fired and Fernando Saraceni was appointed new head coach. At the end of the first 15 games the Biancocelesti had won three, drawn two and lost all the others. In came new manager Augusto Rangone. In the next 8 games Lazio won three and lost the others so Molnar was appointed new manager. The Hungarian made a difference and Lazio were able to win 4 matches out of 6. The final game of the season was a decider against Naples who had the same points as Lazio. Eighth position would have meant Serie A for the following year. But the decider was a goalless draw so both teams were forced to go to a playoff.


On June 23 1929 at the Stadio San Siro in Milan, Lazio and Napoli played to death but there was no winner. The match ended 2-2. A second playoff was scheduled for June 30 at Padova but it was postponed.


At this point politics took control. Serie A needed to have both Napoli and Triestina because they could not start a national championship with no southern Italian team nor clubs from Venezia Giulia that had become Italian only ten years earlier. As a consequence, Lazio too were admitted to the 1929-30 Serie A which instead of being made up of 16 teams, was now going to be 18. The same happened for Serie B so Prato, Legnano, Reggiana and Fiorentina would play in the second tier.


Lazio were happy with what Molnar was able to do so he was confirmed for the first national single group tournament.


Ferenc Molnar was nominated technical director and Pietro Piselli manager. But after three games Molnar was sacked and the team was in the sole control of Piselli. At the end of the first half of the season Lazio were comfortably 13th with a 6-point cushion over the relegation zone. But by the 22nd game the cushion was reduced to just one point so Molnar was recalled.


With five matches to the end of the season Lazio were 12th on 24 points with Pro Patria and Livorno, one point ahead of Modena and Padova and two on Triestina. There was one team left to be relegated since Cremonese were last and a long way behind. Lazio beat Torino and then lost to Napoli and Livorno.


Two games to go and Lazio were 16th, two points ahead of Padova and one behind Modena, Triestina, Pro Patria and Livorno. They really needed to beat Pro Vercelli at home and they did so but Padova also won. Before the final match Lazio, Modena, Triestina and Pro Patria were on 28 points, Livorno on 27 and Padova on 26.


It all came down to the final match of the season. Padova were beaten 8-0 by Roma so Lazio were safe despite losing against Juventus.


Molnar was confirmed for the 1930-31 season and Lazio did fairly well until mid January. They beat Juventus, Milan and Inter but in the 11 games after winning against Ambrosiana they lost 9 and drew twice so Molnar was fired. He was replaced by Cesare Migliorini for five games and then by player-manager Amilcar until the end of the season. Things improved with the change of managers and Lazio finished 8th.


The Hungarian continued to coach in Italy. In 1931-32 he was manager at Novara in Serie B avoiding relegation and the following year started at Alessandria in Serie A. Here the team had difficulty in following the Hungarian’s tactics and Molnar was fired during the course of the season. In 1933-34 he managed Anconitana in the third tier, then Cagliari in the second half of the season in Serie B.


In 1938 he substituted Ottavio Baccani at Fiorentina in Serie A from the 20th game but could not avoid their relegation. For the next season he was at Domodossola managing Juventus Domo in Serie C. In 1939-40 he was head coach at Varese but they just missed out on promotion to Serie B.


In 1940-41 Lazio were managed by Geza Kertesz but after six games with Lazio second from last he was fired and Molnar was called to the rescue. He was unable to solve the problems and was replaced by Dino Canestri after 11 games with Lazio still in the relegation zone. The Biancocelesti avoided going down to Serie B with a draw at Bologna in the last game.


In 1942 Ambrosiana Inter had a really bad year. Molnar was called to the rescue and substituted Ivo Fiorentini but little could be done and Inter arrived just 12th.


For the 1942-43 season he was manager at Udinese in Serie B. The Bianconeri arrived 15th and were relegated but the Federation at the end of the season suspended all relegations so Udinese were saved.


His last year as manager was at Reggiana in 1943. Then he was forced to leave Italy when he was drafted into the reserves of the Hungarian army in World War II.


From then on there is no news on the fate of Ferenc Molnar.


Sources



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