No one would predict that after seven league rounds the Ekstraklasa’s top four will be short of current champions Wisła Krakow, while other strong teams like Legia and Śląsk will also sit rather in the middle of the table than where their fans seen them just two months ago. But even this struggle of those that ruled last year is not as surprising – top teams always start slower and only just before winter they hit the right gear – as the form of those who were supposed to be struggling and facing long relegation battle with everyday problems to make the ends meet.
Korona Kielce is on the struggle since their part in the corruption scandal pushed out of club’s doors a very rich owner and sponsor – the expectations were getting lower with every season and probably this summer fans where facing new bottom, the relegation threat. After all, they only stayed in the Ekstraklasa thanks to their form from first half of last season and when new manager came (inexperienced, short of any career’s success and young Leszek Ojrzyński), poor transfers followed, the atmosphere was bad at the club that was first in Poland to move to a modern ground in this century.
Even though Ojrzyński may not be the smartest manager in the country, he knew exactly what it will take to stay in the league, avoiding nervous relegation battle to the last whistle of the season. But when he promised fans that his team will leave everything on the pitch to get a result in every game, that they will be tackling ruthlessly, not giving their opponents any space but only worries and hard fight, Korona supporters thought that he is just like every other. He may be rough, very nervous and even aggressive at times when he has to face the media, but he found the link between his cabinet and the dressing room – the link that was missed for several years at Kielce.
Seven games into the season, still unbeaten and firmly at the top of the table, Korona is not regarded as one of few relegation favorites. They may not be also known as most attractive and effective when it comes down to their football but every team facing them now is simply afraid of their attitude that can be shortened to one sentence – the stronger bone survives. Indeed, Ojrzyński is very familiar to this saying and another one, that football is a simple game. Hard pressing on own half, mistakes reduced to just a few, fast counter-attacking style is what pushed other managers to claim that against Korona there is only one thing certain to happen during the game – there will be blood.
As they kicked every will out of Lechia Gdansk tonight and reached the top of the table, fans could see that the last-minute loan signing of Jacek Kiełb, who came back to Korona after unsuccessful spell at Lech Poznan, feels best in Kielce and may be the one that produces the extra spark that may invite more fans to their games. After all, what do fans need more other than hard-fighting team that will do everything to get a result and won’t stop running after ninety minutes?
But there are others. Ruch Chorzów under Waldemar Fornalik’s management was never regarded as a calm place to work, with best players constantly leaving the team to inject some much needed money to the club’s budget. Facing crisis every season, he is doing very well to bring the best out of the bunch he could create with as limited resources as Ruch has. When others are spending not small sums of money for transfers, Fornalik can only guarantee the high quality and reputation of his work at Ruch, that even brought European cups to Chorzow last season. This year they are struggling at times and Rafał Grodzicki is always looking like a walking liability at the heart of their defence, but results are coming and four wins in seven games are only one of several reasons for fans to be proud of how the new season unfolds for The Blues.
The expectations were low at Widzew as well, where problems fans faced before the season started were mounting and their situation was similar to the one in Kielce – new manager, as young and inexperienced as Leszek Ojrzyński but Radosław Mroczkowski gives even bigger hope than Korona’s coach – after all it is Widzew’s manager that was named the best last month in the whole league. Widzew may not be the always winning team, five draws give us rather view of a team that priority is not to lose, but what Mroczkowski did during the summer was to make them better in defence. Even with as limited resources as he had, and controversies around their scouting department, he did very well – three goals conceded in seven games are the clear signs of improvement from last season. They may not be scoring as freely as they did back then but the spark is there – Dzalamidze and Okachi are causing opponents lots of problems with their tricks and pace, though there is a need of a striker in Łódź, certainly.
What this early impressing form from one of the poorest teams in Ekstraklasa may mean? Once again, it may not be as easy to assess their situation as the usual leaders are not in their best form yet but at least the league cannot be named as a predictable. Of course, this great run of Korona, Widzew and Ruch will eventually end, the pressure will get to them and suddenly their attitude and style may not be enough to win games but, after all, if there is an obvious answer to the financial and off-field problems, then certainly it’s the one closely connected to getting the right results. Just like the mentioned club do now.