26 mar 2012

Low tempo sets quality

Wisła Krakow have failed to win their last three games, while Legia Warsaw could win only one out of the same number of matches - despite playing last two at home. Śląsk Wroclaw could snatch only three points out of nine and two defeats to Korona and Lech are no reasons to feel optimistic about nearest future. Team from Poznan only today won their first game this year, while surprisingly it is Ruch Chorzow that looks and is the best this spring. There is also Polonia Warsaw but their style is far from one that could give them hope for the championship.

"We are in the fight for the title" - said Marek Zieńczuk, Ruch's fine and experienced midfielder who was also one of the top performers in a convincing 2-0 win over Wisła. He is right of course - three points off the top, good quality and wisdom of Waldemar Fornalik can give them sensational finish and the dreamed fifteenth championship. The last one happened 23 years ago.

But it is not how they feel about their challenge, it is more about how Ruch look when compared to much stronger, financially and in quality, rivals. Legia should really be far ahead of the rest with the impressive attacking options Maciej Skorża has at his disposal, yet further transfer spree rather stopped their development, not increased its tempo. 

An excuse, so often heard from Skorża after poor results, is that the league will be more interesting as it nears the finish. Of course, you can count on at least four-five teams that will do everything to make the title theirs but it is rather disappointing how these clubs are making the championship fight an attractive one. If top five can get only two wins out of last two rounds then it must be said that the level presented leaves a lot of space for improvement. 

Legia are lacking the fluidity and spark they had on so many occasions this season. It seems that at Śląsk they have no idea where things are going wrong, even though their suspicious defensive display and surprising lack of creativity could be the obvious answers - only not all of them. Ruch Chorzów are very good but it is easily seen that their core (central defence and midfield) is nothing more than solid and league standard. Polonia Warsaw is lacking any style and they need to fight hard for each point, despite many qualities all over the pitch. Korona Kielce? Their involvement in the title fight is the best expression of how badly things have gone for top teams this season.

Indeed, if something is shown by Ekstraklasa's 2011/2012 edition is that the level has not gone up any higher, but got more average - by that should be understood that best teams have been brought to the level presented by Ruch Chorzow and Korona Kielce. Both clubs should be regarded highly for the work they put in this season but they aren't nor ever should be as high as they are now. Wisła, Lech... Their embarrassment is countless.

Despite recent poor of form for league's top teams, there should be no critique and moaning over the quality of future champion - if we can learn anything from recent seasons, it is that European football and the one from Ekstraklasa differs a lot, especially in terms of form presented by Polish representatives on both fronts. Lech noted great adventure against City, Juve and Braga last year when they dropped out of Europe places in domestic league, Wisła made miracles despite changing managers twice and still being average all the time in Ekstraklasa. 

Last year and the year before it was all the same - top teams were struggling for form, points and style, losing, drawing at different places where they simply should not lose games. But another big issue is that there is no personalities, there is no individuals that could give us the hope for the future in Europe.

Stilić, Rudnev (Lech), Melikson, Genkov (Wisła), Ljuboja, Radović (Legia), Mila (Śląsk), Bruno, Jeż (Polonia) are simply not good enough this spring, failing to impress for different kind of reasons but all in all, giving one conclusion - it is even easier for lesser teams to stop the ones that used to decide of how league is shaped. Sadly, there are only few reasons for which we should be optimistic and the spark of only one gives more hope than the rest - Rafał Wolski, step out of the crowd, please.

For all the years there was a tendency that made managers in Polish football focus on collectivism rather than individualism, and despite proud examples of teams that went the other way, it was the only solution used when team's form dropped. Now coaches are easily struggling to spark their stars, make them brilliant and head and shoulders above the league which should be... well, easy for them. Blaming them may look easy but all in all, managers are responsible for the form of their players, for the results and Ekstraklasa is no different from top leagues - this is results business indeed.

Low tempo of teams fighting for championship will once again spark the debate of poor quality of future champion but the obvious answers and possible solutions will be shortened only to the easiest ones, short-term ones. Nobody will think that the players are not having enough games, the season is too short while breaks are too long. Nobody will think that the league should be smaller yet more electric and with higher tempo to really make worthy individuals stand out. If nothing changes in terms of this debate and the quality of conclusion will stay as it is among media and experts, this tendency will be kept for the next season as well. And another one.

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