This article is part of the overall Ekstraklasa preview I’m doing at Polish Football Scout. Of the several pieces prepared for the readers who wish to gain an insight on what the forthcoming season of football in Poland could bring, the main theme will be numbers. You can find more about planned blog posts here, as well as links to the ones that have already been published.
Champions. Wisła Krakow is the obvious choice, Robert Maaskant looking forward to winning the title back-to-back in Poland and there couldn’t be smaller aim at Reymonta this year. They may not have got transfers Maaskant and Valckx wanted but squad is wider before league starts. Also, it seems that every position is more or less covered and strength is unquestionable, comparing to others.
This paragraph should be about teams that will be fighting for the title but it has to be different. Despite class, cash, fans, stadiums and atmosphere I don’t really think that Lech Poznan and Legia Warszawa will fight for the title. Sure, there will be near the top, statement of intent always matching the one of Wisła. But both managers and, more importantly, club’s boards have made too many mistakes so far that they are not aware of, even though they are the only blind left on that matters.
Skorża deserved another chance after last season but his cooperation with Sports Director Marek Jóźwiak is a constant conflict as both differ on almost every decision. Skroża’s position has been undermined so many times that I struggle to understand how he can expect his players to have character after all. Still good manager, he will leave Legia and find new challenge. Jose Mari Bakero seems to get over with his questionable rotation tactic but struggles to apply something that would make… should make winning machine out of Lech Poznan. He will be on his way too, sooner than later.
So, who will be in their place to push for the title? Jagiellonia Białystok did well to replace Michał Probierz with Czesław Michniewicz and the undoubted quality they have in wide squad will prove helpful in what may be another exciting season for Jaga. Maybe not clear and obvious choice after that embarrassment in Pavlodar but after that recent change, I will give them a shot. Why not?
My personal choice will be of Śląsk Wroclaw. After all, the only improvement from the second place achieved last season is the top, right? But look at their squad – it’s quality at every position, well covered, you must work really hard to find any weakness in Lenczyk’s team. Also the manager is important – he can make this team play against anybody and get out with result, especially in Polish league. Many will envy him that ability. Their only problem will be rising pressure and moving to new stadium. This may of course help them but may crush them as well. They have very experienced squad though…
Relegation. This won’t be an easy season for Korona Kielce. Many will look at what new manager, young Leszek Ojrzyński achieved at previous teams and ask how he got the job in Ekstraklasa, especially that he faces huge crisis at Korona. Club from Kielce struggles financially, had to sell best players and replaced them with unproven bunch of footballers. I doubt he will make strong, solid team out of them and another managerial change is predictable in Kielce. The chaos will only get bigger.
Same problem has Górnik Zabrze. Financial problems mounted lately and they had to get rid of their finest players. Of course, almost dozen of new players were signed but… could anybody really say that they are class? Mind you, fans probably have never heard of most of them to be fair! It will need some battle from Adam Nawałka to match the success he achieved last season with Górnik but he was not helped on the transfer market. He knew what he signed for after last season.
And, finally, Widzew Lodz. As in previous choices, finances play very important role and money are tight in Lodz. So tight, that they even had to sell their best striker, Darvydas Sernas, let go of Czesław Michniewicz – both were not replaced properly. Tactics of club management at Widzew are puzzling fans and the worst thing for them seems that no one from the board really cares how it will end this season. That will be very tough season for the team that still has quality. But has it enough?