It is easy to judge the whole season based only on the outcome of the last few weekends. When Legia was on top, they had one hand on the title and tipped to clinch the title rather sooner or later... When Śląsk finally found the glimpses of form they have shown us in 2011... When Ruch Chorzow refused to struggle and kept up with the leaders... When Lech began their magnificent finish...
Yes, it is easy. Only because the finish was magnificent, full of emotions - good and, unfortunately, wrong as well - twists and turns... Not everyone will understand though, that what was delivered by players, managers and referees could not be exactly about the emotions. After all, football is a spectacle, always was. Different kind of aspects create the whole image and, for those who missed it, that Sunday, it was delivered from every corner. Thankfully.
Not that all the flaws should be left overlooked. Once again, the referees were constantly poor and the level have not moved up the ladder - the decisions are not only often wrong, but there is a certain lack of any style, any directions in which Polish referees are going. It is simply like there is no body controlling them, or, more importantly, helping them out which should be top priority.
But fans' critique will focus mostly on footballers - it is hard to argue that the results of the relegation fight are not fair. Went down the club that is probably nowhere near the standards at which Polish Ekstraklasa is aiming (ŁKS) and the club that wasted so many chances, failed to learn from so many lessons, that may need to be put through toughest of tests (Cracovia). The latest example of much less stable Górnik Zabrze proves that it may be costly and frustrating, but one season in 1. Liga is what makes club a better place. Or putting one on the right track.
Moving to the other end, the quality is put even often under the question, yet no one can argue that Śląsk Wrocław are not worthy champions. They did everything during the season to end up at the top - the style was not attractive, yet they have scored the most goals over the course of the campaign. Śląsk had the most number of influential players in Orest Lenczyk's squad - Sebastian Mila, Marian Kelemen, Piotr Celeban, Przemysław Kaźmierczak and probably 4-5 of others. Stepping up when necessary, when the team needed them - Waldemar Sobota, Łukasz Madej, Rok Elsner, Jaroslaw Fojut, Cristian Diaz, Johan Voskamp... Indeed, they had the leaders but it's the quality of the heroes from the second stage that sealed it for Śląsk.
Legia, Lech and Ruch failed to have as many of them, though what happened at Legia is often criticized - rightly so. Skorża maybe had no say in the transfers but he failed to make most of the players he had and it should be noted that his quality should overshadow the rest of the league. Ljuboja, Kuciak, Żewłakow... but they did step up to their roles, and Skorża's biggest failure was to implement the winning mentality, the mentality of how to play right football, into the minds of youngest players, as much talented as still fragile in a physical league such as Polish one. Their season was also about giving the chance to the youth, but somewhere the aim was forgotten - or rather the importance and the quality of their rivals was underestimated. Legia is again the biggest mess out of top four, fighting with different forces inside the club, without clarity over the future... Skorża is doubtful to be given the chance to move on with his project - if his work can be named as one - maybe for the right reasons but after wrong decisions, not necessarily coming from the man himself.
Lech shouldn't be even regarded here as a title candidates, for all the troubles caused to them by Bakero's tenure. It was indeed, a disastrous time and his debut win over Manchester City was only a good start to a horrible story of conflict, misunderstanding, mistrust and failure. Only Mariusz Rumak, young, a hero from nowhere, could disagree with common opinion that this squad is over. He restored the faith and his impact was seen at the last game in Poznan, narrow and nervous victory over Podbeskidzie, as it was watched by the biggest crowd of Lech's season. The fourth place finish was overshadowed by pathetic chant-fail from Semir Stilić, yet the fact that Lech is back at the top of Polish football shouldn't be disregarded. Maybe by accident, Lech have found a perfect match in Rumak and with good support from the board, he can make them the best again.
Ruch was the biggest surprise yet there is no promise that their success will mean something more for the club, will be an impact for different future - because if there is a plan in Chorzow now, it is not one about reaching the financial heights of other strongest clubs in the Ekstraklasa. It is the one about continuing current work of Waldemar Fornalik over very experienced team, the one that is nearing the finish line of the age and quality, as several games of current season - most notably the Polish Cup final - proved it. If they will fail to keep their best players, the likes of Piech, Jankowski, this will mean Ruch is back to the times of being average at best - that is until another team is prepared to surprise fans. Because everything what happens at Chorzow is more about surprise rather than proper planning.
Others? Well, this season showed us the biggest struggle of Wisła Krakow and proved that short-term planning is not good anymore even at the league level. Michał Probierz has already faced some really tough challenges but building the team out of nothing - and he is left with literally nothing at Wisła right now - is also a way for him to show his qualities. He can do whatever he wants, he still has the name and the reputation of the club to fight for the names that can give Wisła the comeback they need.
Górnik Zabrze should be also praised for making something more from the averageness they have coped with over last years and there are projects that are supported on much lesser scale than top finishers but are proving their own quality and should be regarded as a dangerous when next season comes. Pavel Hapal made one hell of a job during the winter at Zagłębie Lubin, while Leszek Ojrzyński coped well with his short squad and at least gave his team an identity - not everyone will think that it is the right one though. Jagiellonia, maybe by accident, have found that Tomasz Hajto may be a proper manager and keeping Tomasz Frankowski for one more year is a treat to the whole league.
The uncertainty of the likes of Podbeskidzie, Lechia, Widzew and Polonia is also what makes this league colorful and full of own flavor. When Józef Wojciechowski, the owner of Warsaw's second biggest club ordered his players to stay until the end of the June at the club and have two running sessions a day, many called him mad. Yes, he is, he is so mad that he is probably ruining few careers, yet even his antics have something different about the whole league. And when the Ekstraklasa fails to deliver on the pitch, show the quality there, Polish football needs to stand out in a different way - good that the beautiful game is not only about the players and managers, after all.