In the second part in series of four previews of Ekstraklasa teams before they head to the last thirteen games of remaining season, PFS concentrates on those that might be involved in a battle meaning more than simply staying up… Based on own opinions, not current league position.
Lechia Gdansk is one of biggest negative surprises in Polish football so far this season – not only because the failure in bringing crowds to their new beautiful stadium but also having wasted fairly good opinion of an attacking team. This is why Tomasz Kafarski paid the price for bringing the team down in the league ranks, and while Rafał Ulatowski was named as the replacement, he failed in his first games too.
Third manager was named and even bigger surprise that was – Paweł Janas maybe won qualification with Polish national team to the World Cup in Germany in 2006 but he had awful time at Polonia Warszawa and GKS Belchatow. Leaving both after just few games. Despite fans’ disappointment at what happens inside Lechia, he brought several interesting transfers – Jakub Wilk from Lech is a bit more than average league player and his good deliveries from set pieces may be helpful, while Piotr Grzelczak (from Widzew) will have to deliver goals – they scored just eight of them in seventeen games this season…
They need to stabilize the situation in the background and Lechia should be fine, though that lesson from 2011 should be learned and never repeated if their ambitions are as high as they used to be. Just because there were talks of attacking top four positions before this season started – very optimistic but even with their average squad they should be higher than current twelfth place.
There was enough talk about Korona’s Kielce hard approach to rivals in the first part of the season and although it was character their fans wanted when they similarly struggled before, the class was rarely seen on the pitch. Despite loan-signing of Jacek Kiełb they are rather poor team – Leszek Ojrzyński learned them how to run through a wall of bricks but failed to show them how to do it with a ball.
Nonetheless, there were interesting transfers made – Paweł Golański made his yet another comeback to Kielce, while Daniel Gołębiewski and Maciej Łuczak may be helpful addition for the coach too. Strange that they got rid off Hernani, one of their best defenders, but not many know that Korona is also rather cash-strapped club and some cutbacks had to be made yet again. That is why their safety and rather comfortable way of staying up (though hardly a one to watch) is only beginning and there are more concerns on their road.
Adam Nawałka made Górnik Zabrze a side hard to beat, often surprising and one that from time to time was a bit exciting to watch too. But they suffered from a lot of bad results and performances that even pushed fans to want the experienced manager kicked out of the club. But that was never the issue, despite constant problems at the top of Górnik’s hierarchy, and winter was a busy time for them – Nawałka had limited resources and the likes of Zieliński (from Korona), Telichowski (Zagłębie) or Szeweluchin (Sewastopol) just shows their real ambitions.
The fair point of Górnik’s current existence is a (long) wait for new stadium – the one that could be filled with fans that are around the club but are not necessarily convinced about the way took by authorities. That is way currently they are trying to cope with all the debts that are still there since disastrous relegation season and coping with rather poor squad and tough situation to play the rest of the year in other place than their beloved stadium will definitely have an impact on their second round. Nawałka will do his best to adjust Nakoulma once again and losing Banaś is also a problem, while safe position in the lower half of the league will do Górnik fine. As long as the pressure of relegation battle will not get to the players’ heads – we once saw what that may mean for this club.
Jagiellonia Bialystok is a strange one – Czesław Michniewicz was there to rebuild the squad following last-minute walking away of Michał Probierz but his job was harshly marked and he had to leave the club too. Then things got even stranger – their chairman decided to make a bold move and sign Tomasz Hajto (ex-Schalke defender) as manager and he was hardly expected to be in that position any soon. The type of a person similar to how he played – tough, hard and no-nonsense Hajto is and will have to cope with several players that may not be exactly happy of his loud approach.
Despite that issue, the team is good enough, although I can see them struggling at the start – fans are not really convinced that the man in charge has any idea how to prepare the squad or have a plan A, not to mention the B one. Hajto will be keen to defend his position and transfers of Dzalamidze (from Widzew) or Bandrowski (Lech) are something of a statement but not the one the club that was last season’s revelation would like to make. It is a risky plan and one certain transfer represents it perfectly – Paweł Nawotka was signed from fourth league Danish club… Maybe they know, that sometimes you have to make one step backwards to make two in the right direction?