21 lip 2011

5 biggest changes in Polish football this summer

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.

One: Czesław Michniewicz walks away from Widzew Lodz. If you could see the bigger picture of the club’s situation, this wouldn’t be as big a surprise as many would have you think. Having initially taken over from the previous manager Andrzej Kretek, who had landed the club into trouble through poor form, he had a great season as, without much funds, he made several good transfers and got the best out of his players. For example, who would have thought that Sebastian Madera could have been ever close to international level? Zbigniew Boniek aside (Madera’s biggest fan apparently), many doubted what legendary Zibi had said about this center-back as, until the last few months, his injury record didn’t help him to set off his Ekstraklasa season. Furthermore, there is Nika Dzalamidze – a brilliant, young and skillful Georgian. The scale of the talent at Widzew that Michniewicz found six months ago can be seen in recent trials handed by new manager, Radosław Mroczkowski, and the Sports Director – they invited young players from the German Sixth Division (!) and Malta’s second tier. How bad is this? Fans are not very happy, as Michniewicz - not their favourite due to his commitment to Lech Poznan - promised at least a certain quality of players coming to Lodz. Needless to say, optimism has wilted away from Widzew after such a hopeful last campaign.

Two: Lech’s way doesn’t mean the same now. After fusing with Amica Wronki, Lech Poznan used to sign big names for large sums, but due to their failure to qualify for Europe last season they now have to cut costs. With income still coming into the club, it may not be as a rapid process as some suggest, but the lack of willingness to extend the contract of 36-year old captain Bartosz Bosacki certainly forms part of this cost cutting plan. However they may not have said goodbye to their player in a good manner and the fans may be just as unhappy as Bosacki is. The other expected change this summer in Poznan was supposed to involve Jose Mari Bakero, but the Spaniard survives despite poor league form. Now he says that he wants to bring fresh players to the squad and, with most of the team opting to stay at the club, the competition will be bigger for every position. More important to the Lech fans, Bakero has declared he is giving up on the constant and needless rotation that evidently upset most of his side. But recent friendly games are not as encouraging as they would have liked, and Poznan may see more changes in the next weeks. Just sit and wait…

Three: Korona Kielce gets their politics wrong. Not that they have been doing everything right recently: after all this was the club recently hit by a corruption scandal which led to its biggest sponsor, disillusioned by the revelations, ending his interest in financing the club. The good times are now over. After the first round of last season, Korona were close to the top and a few said that they would be fighting for European places. But they were the worst team in the second round of Ekstraklasa and, despite hanging on, the biggest horrors came afterwards – the club’s condition was tragic, with the biggest earners having to be cut from the wage bill. Among them, their best striker of last season, Andrzej Niedzielan, who has joined Cracovia. Their young and inexperienced new manager, Leszek Ojrzyński, struggled to make strong enough transfers to cover for the absence of Niedzielan and club captain Edi Andradina. Consequently, this summer, despite a feeling of relief in Kielce, many Korona fans remain doubtful over their club’s future, compounded further by the announcement of their connection to the match fixing scandal…

Four: The Polish champions have not sold out this summer… yet. This is the biggest concern Polish football faces every year - the winners of Ekstraklasa losing their best talents. When Robert Lewandowski made his move to Dortmund last year, Lech suffered from the lack of a striker as talented as he, up until the arrival of Artjoms Rudnevs Wisła’s only loss is Erik Cikos - in my humble opinion, the league’s best right-back last season. That position seems well covered, although it may still take some time for Michael Lamey to settle into the team as well as Cikos did. What is more significant is that Wisła have not lost any of their attacking players from their starting XI. Maor Melikson is still in Krakow, Patryk Małecki will also stay, while the signing of Ivica Iliev has already paid off. Two games against Skonto Riga displayed that, despite a few negatives, this machine created by manager Robert Maaskant and General Manager Stan Valckx is moving forward. Bigger steps are needed but the direction picked is the right one, while in recent years Polish sides have had so many problems before the Champions League campaign had even started.

Five: Take your seat and enjoy the view.  Before Poland were handed the co-hosting rights for EURO 2012, who would have thought that the Ekstraklasa would become one of Europe’s best looking leagues – at least in terms of stadiums. One league round could be played at the new stadium in Śląsk, at Lechia, Legia, Wisła, Cracovia, Korona, Zagłębie and Lech… an outlook to rival the English Premier League. After the huge improvement in attendance of almost 70% made last season attendances will rise once more, and the clubs responsible for the few gaps on the Ekstraklasa map of impressive stadiums already have plans to match the set-up the teams mentioned here. Of course financial troubles dictate that, for several clubs, grounds cause real problems. Podbeskidzie had to move into the stadium of Odra in the Third Division to make their license valid, while LKS will play the first few games of the new season in an empty ground in Belchatow, 50km from Lodz. More about their problems in the next few articles…

1 komentarz:

  1. One thing won't change - Legia's transfers will be bad as usual ;-)