This wasn't supposed to be as good season for Waldemar Fornalik as it is turning out to be with just four games left to play. With a Polish Cup final on Tuesday against Legia and similar fight with Warsaw rivals in the league over just three rounds remaining, he is just few steps from making history and winning the double with probably the poorest Ruch Chorzów older fans have seen claiming the title and the cup.
The wait for a trophy is a long one at Cicha and fans are feeling stronger with each game that they can snatch some silverware for Ruch this season. Fourteen championships are proud achievement but only since the financial support for the club dropped for political reasons and changes in Poland at the beginning of the nineties, Ruch could only win one Polish Cup and it was not enough.
Yet this season is really an over-achievement for Ruch and Fornalik. When you look at the squad you will not find any internationals, even the debate to call up one of Chorzow's leading goalscorers, Arkadiusz Piech, came out only as Paweł Brożek's and Ireneusz Jeleń's form became a one big mystery for everyone caring about Poland's team. What is more, Waldemar Fornalik takes proud from the fact that no one from his back line has cost the club more than 150,000 PLN.
It is impressing to see how comfortable in the end was Ruch's victory at Polonia, a club that just three weeks ago was claiming, through newly signed manager, Czesław Michniewicz, that they are ready to get themselves back into the title challenge. Four games later, disciplined and strong performance from Fornalik's men was enough to close the door for Polonia. Someone still has to turn the lights off, though.
But this should be all about Ruch Chorzow - a sign that there is a hope for clubs that stability is a way of succeeding in the chaotic circus that Polish football is for many years now. Not surprisingly, Fornalik is the longest serving manager in the Ekstraklasa and he should stay at Ruch despite rumours connecting him for more glamorous jobs in Poland - in Poznan, Wrocław or even Warsaw.
They were the positive sign of stability and building something from basics - the last one should be linked with first squad only. The money are tight at Ruch as it ever was in last two decades, meaning that Fornalik can count only on funds that he will gather from selling own best performers. There are clubs willing to sign the likes of Piech, Maciej Jankowski and it is up for Ruch whether they will let them go. The decision may not depend only on the success from this season, but also, sadly, effects of last Great Silesia Derby.
With authorities and sponsors filling the small lodge at historic stand at Cicha stadium, they could not only see pretty good performance from Ruch but also disastrous fight on the stands between hosts and visiting fans. When Wojciech Grzyb, long-lasting ex-captain of the Blues, went to calm hooligans down, he could only hear the abuse coming the other way. Not something he deserved after playing half of his career games at Cicha and getting himself through some of the worst years in club's history.
"I can't hide the fact that we are now showed in different light" - Fornalik commented on the brawls that took place at Great Silesia Derby - "We try to focus on our football though, not to discuss this". The effects can be disastrous for Ruch, that should be said. With latest sponsor deal signed, they were willing to show future investors how their club is one of rising forces in the Ekstraklasa, a place to spend their money, despite old and half ruined ground they are still playing on. Now they understandably might be too scared to ever visit Cicha again.
Ruch needs money, they need development, they need Fornalik, they need their best players, they need strengthening their squad, they need new stadium and they need to connect to their best traditions. Sadly, without money that will not happen. If only the reasons would be purely based on football, performances, hopes and talents, but this time it were the hooligans that took something away from the club of which name they take so much pride in beating up others.
This is not the first and unfortunately not the last time this will happen. Polish stadiums are generally a safe place for families and fans - if you know where to sit. But for years certain groups were tolerated inside grounds, given even bigger access and power where they certainly wanted it - clubs are paying the price. For Fornalik's project that may end up winning historic double, this may do more harm than any transfer taking away the leaders from his squad. Even as intelligent and wise man as Ruch's coach is, he will not find solution to this problem. I bet he would love to, though.