That deal really came like a bolt from the blue. Despite the high reputation Polish managers have in Greece (just ask about Jacek Gmoch in Athens!), nobody thought that they may actually turn to another name from country that sits fifty four places below them in latest FIFA ranking. But when few days ago the news broke down that AS Aris is after Michał Probierz, who was in charge of ŁKS for just second month, probably more people in his home country couldn’t believe in that than in Thessaloniki.
Yes, they might have more problems on their heads in Greece than young Polish manager being given a chance in twelfth team of their league but Michał Probierz name must ring the bell for few fans that recall Aris’ last season in Europe. Jagiellonia faced them in 3rd qualification round in the Europa Leauge and despite being two-nil down after seven minutes of the first match, they were in a good position with quarter to go of the second leg away in Greece as brace from Marcin Burkhardt allowed them to take the game to the extra time. Unfortunately, with big help from referees, hosts equalized and Jagiellonia was kicked out of European cup. Who would have thought back then, that roughly sixteen months later, Probierz will be in the place where once he shook his hands with Hector Raul Cuper?
Ambitious, hard working and rather grim man Probierz is but also a bit of eccentric. He didn’t mind to go on a small mind-war with his leaders while being Jagiellonia’s manager, when firstly Kamil Grosicki caused him some troubles despite being one of team’s best performer, and then he had a row with old and proven goal-scorer, Tomasz Frankowski – also his captain. When his team was at the top of the league when last winter came, he openly spoke about winning the championship, and didn’t hesitate to hand in his resignation when with couple of games to go his team recorded few bad results and slipped away from leading position.
For the first game against Irtysh, when he was banned for his actions during the revenge with Aris last season, he gave the half-time talk through the phone from the stands… and when his team was embarrassingly defeated by Azerbaijan’s club, he explained that it was sort of expected, judging by their training facilities, compared to what he had to cope with in Białystok. That’s not even the best bit though, as in his short spell at ŁKS, he banned media from training sessions and made the club switch CCTV cameras off as apparently someone watched his team from the control room!
Fluent German and English speaker (or that is what he says at least), he is rather no-nonsense person, straight-forward, always in attacking position. As a player he wasn’t a virtuoso, more of a hard working and tackling type of midfielder that never gave up, there was no ball lost for him. Now he prefers more technical football but above all results mean the most for him and he knows exactly what to do with the squad he has to achieve it – that was exactly what he did during his short spells at ŁKS, Polonia Bytom and Widzew. But given enough time, he is not afraid to switch his team to more attacking football, teach his players how to pass the ball swiftly and accurately, remain in possession while be creative at the same time.
He is not easy person to work with, but not many managers in Polish football achieved so much before fortieth birthday – he won Polish Cup, Super Cup as well, though trophies won’t show you the full picture of Probierz. He survived in the league with Jagiellonia despite ten-points deducted from them, won also two trophies at the time. He is the kind of man who is not afraid of tough challenges, as same can be made of his decision to take over at ŁKS, team that was newly promoted and shredded to pieces after few first league rounds in Ekstraklasa. He took them out of relegations spots and into relative safety, though there is still a long way to go this season.
What Aris fans can expect from him? That is indeed a great question and even the man himself cannot answer that. As he confirmed in one of recent interviews, Probierz’s main goal is to hear his players saying that they are proud to be under his wings. Now he faces the biggest challenge of his career at the biggest club he will put in his coaching CV – he will work with the players of unknown format to him, such as Neri Castillo, Ricardo Fati and Neto. After all, his first game in charge in Greece, will be also his only 205th in a manager role.
Undoubtedly, with the problems Aris is now facing, they went for a man that is good candidate for both, short and long term plans. He must remember though, that he comes to Greece as rather unknown man, with reputation and experience gained in the league of lower standard than Super League – the challenge is to prove his qualities right from the start but this is something what simply makes Michał Probierz tick.