Leo Beenhakker, former Polish national team coach to whom I will refer quite often as he was and still is great source of brilliant quotes, once said that he wants his team to be built by his method of steps: 'little by little, step by step'. As far as I'm concerned, it was even used in a TV commercial... But he was right and even new head coach said that his team will move same way. Franciszek Smuda is fairly popular and likable person in Polish sports world and when signed by Polish FA, the press even used his name to make a rhyme and state that he can make a miracle. It become even a fan chant in few first games of the team under his management.
He declared few things at the start, Franciszek Smuda. Firstly, he will proceed a two year selection of Polish players to find 30 of them and choose from it, play them right to the big start in EURO 2012. Secondly, he declared that his team will adopt attacking mentality, he will learn them play 4-3-3, score a lot even if it will cost them losing few goals as well. And finally, he said that he will stick to this things and do no change cause there is no time after awful qualifications campaign to World Cup in Africa.
To be fair, he did change a lot, maybe not in the names that he prefers to call up but in mentality. They really want to attack, be the side that leads the match, has the ball, pass it a lot around the pitch, be something nice to watch. There are only few questions to be asked about his selection as Poland doesn't have a lot of players at international level or capable of stepping to it while playing on daily basis in our Ekstraklasa. He had fairly good start with 2-0 win over Bulgaria as highlight of the first few games.
But that step by step method I was talking about earlier... It clearly didn't last long, as the faith in the team, hope to do some magic during the big tournament simply disappeared. He changed tactics, called up players not playing in clubs (that seem to be the sin of every national team coach there is). And now it looks like his team was doing one step forward but then few backwards and still not reaching its potential or matching the level of expectation of our nation. Smuda looks like he doesn't know where his team is, where the building of the team is, what did they achieve by now and what needs to be done in less than two years time.
I will do this job for him, save him the time. His team is just few steps from the moment he took over. Yes, he clearly made something to make it different, better but if I could describe... wait, I can - his team is now no more than 30% of job done in his and our standards. When he took over, we were a mess on and off the pitch and though he did something to make atmosphere in the team bearable and make it a place for work, while playing there is chaos that he is unable to control. The other thing is, it doesn't look like he wants to do so.
Of course, there are good signs - players try to use the ball, move wisely, play as a team, lead the game, attack, enjoy and so on but I'm not sure that this team can win anything playing like that. We were destroyed by Spain and Cameroon, then wasted decent chance to give Smuda arguments about his team in two games against Ukraine and Australia. Personally, I think that a manager should know ambitions of the team, their limits and match his expectations to them. Unfortunately, Smuda still thinks that we can play like Spain and against Spain, which is simply stupid and naive.
Naivety - it is his main problem, but also of the team. The whole project is based on hope only, with the steps being made in unknown direction. That is why Smuda is making many mistakes, especially when it is down to tactics and definition of this team.
Where is our team then? The EURO-hype definitely is now over and people seem to notice the limits of our national team. There is a conception but we have no idea how to realize the project, who to involve, how to achieve things, get the results. There is a prospect in persons of Lewandowski, Jeleń, Piszczek, Boenisch, Murawski, Glik and our keepers but they have one main problem - they are lead by a blind man, who knows where he wants to be but does not know where he is now and more crucially, how to get there.
PS. The conclusion of this post shouldn't be about sacking Smuda. I still rate him (not that high as Polish media though) as a manager but also I know his and his team limits. And I know that he is not the person that can move the barrier higher in two years time. That's all.