14 wrz 2010

The Mad One

In Poland, we had many different types of football club owners. One decided to play only with Brazilians - which would be wise but he had serious problems with selection and he sent to Poland not the types of Ronaldinho or Robinho. Rather much poorer versions of them, probably straight from Copacabana. Also, few of them liked to move from one city to another too increase attendance. Once again, it would be wise but here fans aren't too tolerant about that kind of movement. But this story is different and it is continuing as I write with turning points happening this day.

Józef Wojciechowski wasn't really a person much involved in football and it was strange that he decided to invest large sums of money in club that was for most of its history on the second place in Warsaw. When he bought Polonia, the club was a mess. Global Soccer Agency claimed to own part of the club, Polish FA deducted points from them and in football levels they weren't much better, if not worse - at the bottom of 2nd Division. If Wojciechowski had any plan it surely must have been a one for years to become another power in the 1st division, known also as Ekstraklasa

But the man who is a developer and learned the business from the best in the USA know when the bargain is in front of him to take it. Zbigniew Drzymała was looking for a chance to sell his club, playing in small town but playing good and Wojciechowski didn't hesitate to pay 5 millions Euro for players and manager to bring them to Warsaw. Also he didn't have to win promotion with his Polonia anymore - he had his place in Ekstraklasa thanks to Groclin license.

He made huge investments in the team since the season 2008/2009 which his team ended on high fourth place despite transformation done inside the team and... manager changes. That was pretty strange because when he bought whole Groclin team, he also had a new coach, Jacek Zieliński with them coming to Warsaw. He was good but not good enough for Wojciechowski. So he found a better one after only eight months with Zieliński in charge, former Leo Beenhakker assistant, Bogusław Kaczmarek was signed - man knowing the League from the inside and outside. He lasted only... four games. Was he that bad? No, he won three and drawn one but was accused of using defensive tactics and didn't liked how the owner interfered in his job. With young Jacek Grembocki in charge he ended the season with Europa League qualifications. 

To keep (the very recent) story short, let's say that Grembocki only started last season as Polonia manager, got few games and was kicked out for not matching high level of expectations. The next one was Dusan Radolski but his stay at Konwiktorska was limited only to two months and he left the team at 13th place in Ekstraklasa. The same Polonia ended 09/10 season under management of famous ex-Barca player, Jose Maria Bakero.

The relationship between Bakero and Wojciechowski most certainly wasn't the easiest one. The owner signed the Basque but did not trust him so he put Tony Slot behind his back as a sports director to consult most of his decisions. He survived the rest of the season only because the Dutch director was his friend and actually recommended him for the job. After surviving in the league, Wojciechowski offered Bakero strange deal he bizarrely took - no bonus money for achieving the survival but 25% of clubs stock. But it is not the end of the story happening on our eyes during the summer of 2010. 

After one month of quite long holiday between Polish Ekstraklasa seasons the two of them had a fight. Wojciechowski was angry because Bakero was longer in his hometown than in Warsaw, and Jose didn't liked that the investments made in the team were done behind his back. While being in Polish capital, he had a meeting with the owner, arguments were flying in and the Basque left the room furious. Later that day he called Wojciechowski to announce his resignation. As Polonia owner said, the Basque clearly was after one or two bottles of wine while talking to him. The Basque declined doing such thing but came back to his office and begged for another chance. This was given but on Wojciechowski's terms. 

First of all, the new signings could be made without even asking Bakero about them. Then he signed another sports director, keeping Tony Slot as his personal adviser, in person of Paweł Janas - former Polish national team coach and Widzew Łódź manager, the club that gained promotion in last season to Ekstraklasa with him in charge. Bakero had to report every move, decision made and explain it to Janas or the owner. 

Investments were made - big sums spend on Smolarek, Pietrasiak, Tosik, Sobiech and few more and to be honest, no manager in Poland could argue with such transfers to the club. The job of Bakero was to fit them into the team and make them play, win the championship. He started the 2010/2011 season pretty well, winning four, drawing one but problems for Bakero were mounting quite fast as another strange things had happened.

Wojciechowski openly said that he dislikes defensive tactics used by Bakero, that he should be playing with at least two players up-front, that he misused Tomasz Jodłowiec several times and, most bizarrely, he gave too much of free time to his players during international break. He was actually very mad and wanted to cancel that last decision of Bakero but it was too late and players had three days to rest from farce scenes happening inside Polonia. In the same time, he had another idea - he created the group of twelve: former players, his advisors, press officer, sports director and himself that would rate every decision Bakero made and every player that played. The weakest one in the eyes of the 12 was left from the team for another game.

But the biggest battle was about Andreu, Spanish player that got through Barca ranks, played in their B team, then continued his career in Malaga and Sporting Gijon. The holding midfielder was in Polonia already for six months and he started to impress everybody apart from Wojciechowski and his board of advisors. The owner even said that with him in the squad the team has no chance to play better for the eye as he can pass only backwards and sideways and Bakero must leave him on the bench to save his job. The Spanish manager did so but said that it wasn't because of Wojciechowski's comments and he lost the game with Korona Kielce.

That was on Sunday, actually. I bet that Bakero knew that he is going to be sacked within another day or so and to be honest, Wojciechowski was only waiting for the chance to do so for a long time. Now he can give the job to the man he appointed the sports director few months ago - Paweł Janas. Will the board of twelve still be judging on every decision he makes remains uncertain but one thing is for sure - Józef Wojciechowski is making his club a laugh and farce in everyone's eyes. I'm almost sure that this will not stop with appointing Paweł Janas. Or maybe it has only just begun?

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