4 wrz 2010

Blame the coach

After watching how Polish national team struggles to score in four consecutive games, loses 0-6 to Spain and 0-3 to Cameroon You could only hope that we have some bright talent to change it in the future. Then You look at the scores from last months, even from last days and see how U20 side gets lucky draw against Uzbekistan, U21 loses in Finland and so does U19 in Norway. Three months ago, U21 lost even with Luxembourg. So, no talents in Polish football? I'm on one side with Leo Beenhakker who said famously that in Poland we have as much talented kids as others have in Spain, Germany and England. If this is not the problem then the head obviously turns on those who teach them how to play. Or rather how not to play.

Who should manage youth national teams? Probably coach with great experience in work with kids, knowing their mentality, development, having the ability to judge on someone's talent, raise it properly. No big names needed, rather people liking to work in the shadow, not expecting the results to come quickly, patient coach. Hopefully You get the point.

Polish FA have some great coaches on their payroll but they may get the credit only for giving the youth class to right manager, like Michał Globisz (currently works with U19). The 64 year old is truly legend in his hometown Gdańsk but also he did great things while coaching many, many youngsters through national sides ranks. He won EURO Championship with U18 team in 2001, had good run with his U20 squad during World Cup in Canada in 2007, famously winning the match with Brazil 1-0 thanks to great Grzegorz Krychowiak free kick. If You don't believe me that he is good, ask Tomasz Cywka (Derby County), ask Dawid Janczyk (Germinal, on loan from CSKA), ask Przemysław Tytoń (Roda Kerkrade), ask Grzegorz Krychowiak (Stade Reims, on loan from Bordeaux) and finally, ask Wojciech Szczęsny (Arsenal). They all were in Canada, You know. And many others, playing abroad and in Poland.

He is not the only one to work success with young national teams. Andrzej Zamilski is another name worth mentioning, he now works with U21 side. He also had some great names You might have heard about under his eye, like Łukasz Fabiański (Arsenal), Maciej Żurawski (ex-Celtic), Jakub Błaszczykowski (Borussia) and few others. He won U16 EURO Championship in 1993, successfully worked with U16 and U17 sides in last decade, qualifying to EURO's. Now he may lost the plot in work with older players but should be useful for federation in work with the class he used to. Great experience and knowledge (absolutely one of top football TV pundits in Poland, great analysis every time they let him somewhere near the microphone) should be used in right direction.

But then we come to other names working with young national teams and the curiosity arises, questions are left without answers. How the hell the people I'll introduce You got their chance (and wasted it) to work with young people needing proper football education? Yes, I know that the call-ups and internationals are rare during the season but it is also exactly my point - if I see those players week in, week out and their talent is undoubted, then why for national sides, under those managers, they are so poor? The answer is simple - blame the coach.

If coach cannot shape the team rightly - it is his fault. If coach cannot motivate them during those short spells between league games - it is his fault. If coach cannot select right team - it is his fault. Meet Stefan Majewski and Władysław Żmuda - two most useless coaches that our youth system probably ever got.

They are so bad, that they given them two classes to manager. Stefan Majewski has a job of preparing back-up to the most important team in the country, he leads U-23 side. It was created when Beenhakker was in charge and even then, the Dutch coach said that it is useless and pointless team as they play with amateurs and are not motivated by the call-ups to this squad. Franciszek Smuda, current head-coach, says the same thing and points to games lost by U23 side - with England C, with Northern Ireland U23. The team is so useless that most of the club managers do everything to stop players from training and playing for Majewski - fake injuries, late call-ups made a farce out of team that could be a back-up before EURO 2012, tournament so important for us. But Majewski is also managing U20 side, another team created for him. Today, he has first game under his belt, draw luckily to Uzbekistan after late goal.

To add to his story, he never was a good club manager either. Most of the players that worked under him, now describes him as 'clown' and points at his strange reactions, how he glorified himself in front of the players in very strange ways (how many DVD's he has, how fast he drives a car - and I'm not joking now). In Wronki, his players made book containing his every flop - I dream to have a look on that. Actually, 'the clueless' adjective is the soft one used to describe him by everyone knowing the football in Poland, apart from Majewski friends in Polish FA who had given him the job.

The second one is Władysław Żmuda, another great example of great player not turning into great coach. Splendid career in Italy, Poland and especially in our national side during his 13 years time of representing Poland created a legend of phenomenal defender. But when he went to manage teams it did turned out to be a completely different story. For a start, he helped in U20 team in 2000, then was one of the coaches in national side, helping Paweł Janas and Jerzy Engel. The latter is now head of schooling department in Polish FA. You know now how he is still in his job, do You? Now he manages U17 and U18 teams, both failing to get any results, having even problems to score the goals.

Once again, as with every other team, the problem is not with selection.

Although big names at Polish FA headquarters will tell You something else, Poland doesn't have one proper youth system to develop talents, select them, prepare, train and then make them able to play on the main stage. The simplest way to show it is how they play and co-operate between each others. From U15 to U23 Polish national sides play 4-4-2. But the first team, led by Franciszek Smuda, combines between 4-2-3-1 and 4-3-2-1. Leaving it to the club coaches how they play there every week, at least at national level You could expect some stability in terms of tactics, style of play. Not in Poland.

You could always say that the national coach of youth class job is to select the right players, prepare them the best he can during few days and shape them in the most suitable formation. But it is much more than that, and as I said, it is the work in the shadow with the pressure to deliver as many players as possible to the 'A' squad. Even though they are struggling now to find the net, make a competition from match against world champions, they will need the fresh blood pretty soon. With current coaches and handling the situation by Polish FA, this prospect is even darker than Poland losing all three games at EURO 2012.

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