Time for the second part of my Ekstraklasa review, which is more compact than the one You could read at In Bed With Maradona this weekend. Also, yesterday I presented teams that I think will struggle next round and will be battling to stay in Ekstraklasa. Today I will present You few facts about seven teams from places 11 to 5. Here we go.
Position: 11th, nineteen points (5-4-6), 18-14
Review: Fantastic results in Europa League group stage but woeful performances in Polish league. Still capable of beating Wisła Kraków 4-1 at home and losing with Zagłębie Lubin 0-1.
Manager: Jose Mari Bakero was appointed following Jacek Zieliński sacking hours before Manchester City game. The Pole struggled with results in the league but also did not well enough in Champions League qualifications. Spaniard has tough situation but enjoyed good start in his new job.
Best player: Artjoms Rudnevs – hard to pick anybody else but Manuel Arboleda and Sławomir Peszko are media’s favorites. But the striker came out of nowhere and showed he is up to the job after selling Lewandowski to Dortmund.
Should: Buy another striker and strengthen in the middle of the pitch where often Djurdević (nominal center-back) was used as defensive midfielder.
Future: I reckon they will finish in Top 5 but this round was so woeful that even best run may be not enough to get anything more than predicted finish.
Position: 10th, nineteen points (5-4-6), 13-16
Review: Team of great potential had injury crisis but enjoyed good wins over Lech and Legia although conflict between fans and board is not helping much players.
Manager: Marek Bajor had awful summer (his wife died) but he got up from his knees and despite talks about him getting sacked, kept working hard which paid off. Huge respect to the man.
Best player: Mateusz Bartczak was their main man, great shot he has (scored two great goals this round, most notable in Poznań) but also works his socks off for the team as midfielder. Mentions goes to Plizga and Pawłowski.
Should: Buy a striker as Traore is completely out of form and finally solve the conflict that may be the main reason of team struggle during next round.
Future: Much depends on what happens within the board but there is some money available, also youth team has great potential and we may see few of them coming through ranks.
Position: 9th, twenty (5-5-5), 21-20
Review: Great transfers before the season but struggled very much in first two months and only change of manager showed what they are capable of. Still lacking style and form but getting results and getting higher in the league.
Manager: Experienced Orest Lenczyk stepped when Ryszard Tarasiewicz was dismissed and did well, although voices says that main job is done by his assistant (also hired with him) Marek Wleciałowski. Will he step up when Lenczyk leaves at the end of the season?
Best player: Piotr Celeban had really good season again and deserved to be called up for national team trials in Turkey this week but goalkeeper Marian Kelemen is not far off with Sebastian Mila and Przemysław Kaźmierczak deserving a mention following their good display in second part of the round.
Should: Well, work their socks off and get some style. They are scoring only from set pieces and desperately need to get something more. Also, they should offload some deadwood they have within their squad.
Future: Should be bright but knowing this club better than most, I see that things are not done best there in many departments. Squad is really good but they must step up off field to match ambitions of the fans.
Position: 8th, twenty (5-5-5), 23-18
Review: Talking about disappointments… With their squad they should be in Top 3 but decision making of their owner is simply stunning sometimes and really getting to players’ heads which can be seen by very mixed results and performances.
Manager: Paweł Janas is current manager after Jose Mari Bakero was sacked after first defeat but new one couldn’t make them any better and already there are talks that Jacek Zieliński will ‘help’ him in next round.
Best player: Adrian Mierzejewski – really impressed with his performances against Legia and few others but I heard that he is a bit lazy on the training pitch. With his potential, we can see him going west very soon.
Should: They should stabilize their squad and manager but nobody expects them to do so – again winter spree and controversial decisions from the owner may result in fairly entertaining scenes there.
Future: As I said, winter spree and selling few players that will turn out good in other clubs. Don’t even dare to bet on this one with me.
Position: 7th, twenty-two (7-1-7), 15-25
Review: Team of contrast – playing really good at home, with great ambition and will but when they go away… Different team really. With such negative goal difference they shouldn’t be that high but got lucky on several occasions.
Manager: Adam Nawałka is struggling with reasons why his team is so bad at away games but generally speaking he did well enough to make them the best newcomers this season.
Best player: Tomasz Zahorski – once a league revelation and a favorite of Leo Beenhakker but now doing really good job in different position.
Should: Their squad is fairly good when You look at the team spirit and ambition but need to improve in football terms, both in defence and up front.
Future: It will be hard for them to stay in top half after season ends but I reckon that safe survival despite news about poor financial condition of the club is within their reach.
Position: 6th, twenty-three (7-2-6), 22-18
Review: Really good transfers following fans protest about countless trials in the summer, also great performances against Górnik Zabrze (5-1) and Legia Warszawa (3-0 away win!) but they need to step up when they are playing with better opposition.
Manager: Tomasz Kafarski is younger than some of his players but really doing well with injecting attacking approach to his team but struggling when game is not going his way. There is a space to improve.
Best player: Close call between Armand Traore and Paweł Buzała but I will give it to the first one – he impressed and proved to be perfect and one of the best summer singings. Deleu gets the mention as well.
Should: Improve at the back where players have potential but it’s rather case of team defending, not individual weaknesses. Maybe also make their squad wider.
Future: Looks really good with just months before opening of new beautiful stadium but will they fill it up? Need to step up on and off the pitch for their fans but there is great potential in this club. Watch them in future.
Position: 5th, twenty-three (7-2-6), 19-18
Review: Who would have thought? After unstable summer and some transfers from the club their squad looked weak but first half of the round was sensational while in second their stepped their foot of the gas.
Manager: Maciej Bartoszek – another young manager who is doing everything to make himself controversial. Once he almost got his team off the pitch when ref mistakenly ended match ten minutes before the time. But doing much better than anybody expected him to do.
Best player: Maciej Małkowski with some distance as Drzymont and Baran made several mistakes in defence lately and Żewłakow struggled with his fitness. Małkowski got three goals and few assists.
Should: Well, they should keep it up. They will be nothing more than middle of the table, one sensation team but I don’t think anybody is expecting them to be something more. Few talents coming through!
Future: Top half finish is their aim and I think they might get it at the end. Just don’t fall asleep again.
Last part tomorrow!