There is a saying that first five days following weekend are the worst but it’s Monday that usually is pointed out as possibly the worst day ever, Poland was no difference until, er, this Monday. At least in football.
We are the country that most certainly is not having the best of times – sitting uncomfortably behind Gabon in FIFA rank on sixty-something position, national team is drawing at best and clubs failed to get to group stages of Champions League. Our latest failures have been well documented but it seems that from now on, there is a hope that we will be taken seriously again in European football.
The most surprising news came from Athens where Panathinaikos sacked Nikolas Nioplias and appointed in caretaker role the technical director of the club – Polish legend, Jacek Gmoch. It is possibly as surprising news there as it is in Poland. I suppose that 99% of people reading that he took this job laughed out loud at the very same moment. Probably doing Gmoch’s trademark laugh reaction that became legendary after his recent football punditry for Polish TV (which can be heard here, partly).
As many older managers in Poland, living the dream of winning days back in the 70’s and early 80’s, he wasn’t active in the coaching job in recent years but still it must be said that he was doing more than his friends sitting comfortably in different departments – working for Panathinaikos and being some kind of ambassador of Legia Warsaw. Not including him, the rest probably wouldn’t take any job offered to them, even if it was Roman Abramovich himself calling them and begging to become manager at his Chelsea.
But we all have to pay respect to Jacek Gmoch as he was brave enough to step up to the role when he was clearly needed. He wouldn’t be asked to do so if the Panathinaikos board thought that he is too old or was out of football for too long to manage group of footballers in Athens, despite them facing Barcelona in just eight days. People may wonder though, why assistant manager, the other Pole there and true legend of the club, Krzysztof Warzycha, wasn’t offered the role of care taker as first one.
But surprising scenes in Athens are not the only comeback on managerial post in Poland. After recent failures, Widzew Lodz decided to sack Andrzej Kretek and it was coming for at least two weeks – he stepped up when Pawel Janas left for Polonia Warsaw and did considerably well, possibly better than more of fans and pundits thought at the start. But nobody expected that the next one will be Czeslaw Michniewicz – man connected to (but officially not involved in) corruption affair that was devastating to Polish football. He was out of the job for year-and-a-half, lastly sacked from Arka Gdynia. Once regarded as the Special One of Polish football, not only for his words but also for the trophies he won in his managerial career – about which You can read more at great In Bed With Maradona where I committed a piece on Michniewicz few weeks ago.
But as the latest reports shows, we may be witnessing another comeback of Polish manager to the job, also in Greece. Henryk Kasperczak, following his completely failures at Górnik Zabrze and Wisła Cracow in last two seasons, is linked with AO Kavala job and supposedly he was there negotiating the deal. That would be surprising maybe more than the Panathinaikos decision as his recent managerial spells show, his best days in coaching (in France and Africa) are well behind him.
How not to like Mondays, eh? Jacek Gmoch is one of most likeable persons in Polish football, well known for his tactics analysis in Polish TV. Czesław Michniewicz is maybe controversial person and manager but the information that he was given another chance in Polish football might be one of more important one in recent months. Still young, with fresh ideas – Widzew fans will hope that he can change their clubs luck and form. And lastly, Henryk Kasperczak. With him it may be funny at Kavala but not in the good way for club. I suppose that his recent results gave him few reasons to think about his career ending but it’s good that at least he is fighting to stay on the bench rather than changing it for place behind the desk, as many of his younger friends at Polish FA did long ago.
All in all it shows that Poland still may be a laugh of football country, still trying to get from its knees after recent scandals, affairs and performances of national team and clubs on the big stage, but is interesting one to follow for everyone wanting to get their nose out of safe and cozy Premier League environment. And, based at least on last encounter between Lech Poznan and Manchester City, we are getting better at kicking the ball so You better get stuck in now, not to stay behind when Polish squad will reach World Cup. Or Jacek Gmoch will work miracles in eight days to beat Barcelona in Champions League for that matter.