13 gru 2011

Ekstraklasa 2012 so far, round-up (1)

There are stories that shouldn’t be left on the side, there are important issues that would be of your interest. Ekstraklasa is certainly a league rich of both of them and that can be seen in discussions caused by the results of the first round, seventeen match weeks that decided the faith of teams, managers and players. It is time to look at different fate of sixteen clubs and what is waiting for them this winter – from bottom to the top.

Zagłębie Lubin (16, 3-4-10, 15-32)* – This wasn’t supposed to be that way. Interesting transfers, good previous round and ambitious coach should be a perfect match for the success that is awaited in Lubin since their win in the league few years back. Unfortunately for Zagłębie, they are closing the table and quite deservedly so – playing poorly, not presenting any ambition and fighting spirit. They are not lacking in class, definitely don’t have the weakest squad too. But when Jan Urban was sacked, replaced by Pavel Hapal, the team stumbled into further problems, the results did not improved at all. The club awaits bigger changes inside and this is badly needed – poor results have swept away fans from the stands and Zagłębie’s status fell from ambitious to laughable. Huge challenge for Hapal. Best player: Arkadiusz Woźniak

Cracovia (15, 3-5-9, 9-19) – They are certainly not the club that should be struggling as much as they do but while there might be enough quality to keep them in Ekstraklasa, they lacked character early this season after fantastic comeback last spring. Jurij Szatałow failed to inspire them but then came the Solid One, Dariusz Pasieka. His first steps was to improve spirit and it helped a lot, as much as the Krakow derby win over arch-rivals Wisła. This was their top performance but they need to improve and certainly have the quality to see better results. At least in dramatic win over Bełchatów, fans could see more of the character that may keep them in the league for another season. Best player: Wojciech Kaczmarek

Łódzki Klub Sportowy (14, 4-3-10, 12-34) – Wow, where to start? Four managers, the oldest squad, worst defence and ruined ground. Add this to financial troubles and you get the picture of a club that only recently rose from its knees and now may not restart the round. The only moment of stability seen this fall was when Michał Probierz took over and suddenly squad looked half-decent but that was short spell and manager knew he wants different, more stable and ambitious challenge than coaching that poorly run football club. Even if they somehow survive the winter, football may crush them further – there is simply no money to make all the changes they needed and last seasons’ promotion was maybe a one step too far for them. Best player: Marcin Kaczmarek

GKS Bełchatów (13, 4-4-9, 20-20) – Looking at their squad, they certainly shouldn’t be as low placed as they are and they enjoyed some really good games, especially against league leaders Śląsk at home, when they won 3-0. But this was more about the club’s structure and ambitions, which look gloom and not positive for GKS fans. They look simply too short for Ekstraklasa right now, too small against other teams that are developing. GKS reached their peak few years back but they were always to struggle to keep their position and despite some quality and experience in the squad Kamil Kiereś has, they must check the reality that mid-table position is as far as they will get. Best player: Grzegorz Fonfara

Lechia Gdańsk (12, 4-5-8, 8-15) – This is one sad story and depressing fall of the club that right now should be bossing at the top of the table, at least to the Lechia’s ambitious plans. But this was quite predictable, in a way they fell in form last season and struggled to match the created image of an attacking team. Tomasz Kafarski failed to make strong decisions, didn’t look fully in charge while at the helm but changing manager for Rafał Ulatowski shouldn’t be the only change made by Lechia and they know it. Huge winter coming up for the club, if they don’t want to have the biggest and most beautiful stadium in lower league. Best player: Wojciech Pawłowski

Górnik Zabrze (11, 5-5-7, 18-21) – One top performer and pretty average team, Górnik certainly look like their stadium right now – one stand and the rest is in a constructional mess. But when it comes down to their ground, the new stands will eventually be build, while Nawałka’s team need more fresh blood, more class to match the one of a rising star of Prejuice Nakoulma, who stood out for Górnik this season. If they are to welcome new stadium with full crowds, they may want to change their tactics of building team, because the one adopted now looks too much chaotic to bring any success, on and off the pitch. The other thing is, whether they have resources to do it any time soon… Best player: Prejuice Nakoulma

Jagiellonia Białystok (10, 6-4-7, 20-27) – If there is one team that is coming through transitional season, it’s Jagiellonia. When Michał Probierz left just before season started, the decision was made to rebuild his side, although a one that wasn’t finished either. Was it the will to cut off Probierz’s tactics or knowledge of number of talents they had, Czesław Michniewicz understood that change is desperately needed. He made one, brought many young players that maybe not performed as good as expected or as good as they can, but more importantly, his leaders failed to match his expectations too and only made him want to change the side stronger. He does it now, team suffers away from home but is still dangerous and shouldn’t be underestimated – especially with whole winter for Michniewicz to mix the experience with the youth he has in his squad. Best player: Thiago Cionek

Podbeskidzie Bielsko-Biała (9, 6-5-6, 15-19) – A surprise, maybe? Not so much for some, but those that will recall the infamous 0-6 they suffered to Bełchatów just few league games in, will know how things changed for Podbeskidzie later in the round. Perhaps it wasn’t one of the strange decisions from the chairman that became so irritated of his players that wanted them to play under pressure of losing contract each time they made it to the pitch. But Robert Kasperczyk should be credited for the change in results, especially that he had to give away the tactics that made him and the team famous year ago, mostly due to successful cup run. He decided to make it hard for opponents and less entertaining for fans, adopting his team of rather average quality to Ekstraklasa’s reality. Win at Legia and just one defeat in last six games were like a rope to safety for them and once their status is more clear for others, once they are regarded as dangerous even, Kasperczyk can build something closer to his concept. Few new names should help him to do so. Best player: Sylwester Patejuk

*From left - Club (position, record, goals for-against). Full league table can be found here.

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