Just week after the disappointment that was caused by the defeat against Czech republic and the discussion has not moved even by an inch in the right direction. It seems that there is no place for reasonable debate over causes of the disaster, the future is even bleaker than it was few weeks ago and those that should be leading the voice and opinion are overshadow by dozens of self-made experts, opinion makers. Football in Poland has found itself in recession, again.
Of course, it were not two points from three games won at Euro 2012 that caused this sudden downfall and it is not necessarily about footballers and coach that were responsible for this failure. Poland expected, Poland hoped, Poland failed – now there is no space for rebuilding but so liked chaos that resembles flipping blame from one person to another, like it was a hot potato.
“We have stressed our concerns to the coach that we should focus more on the football side of team’s preparations rather than physical one” – said Jacek Zieliński days after defeat, showing not Smuda’s well-known stubbornness but maybe the scale of it.
There is also a talk among PZPN board of “Smuda’s legacy” following Euro 2012 disaster but there is no one that can explain what it can be. The team has no style, is in pieces after painful defeat and, maybe not without a talent, but lacking replacements and largely limited to ten valuable names. For someone who tested eighty players during three years and failed to pick those twenty half-decent from them should never be thanked for leaving any legacy.
Orest Lenczyk, Waldemar Fornalik, Maciej Skorża, Jerzy Engel, Henryk Kasperczak, Piotr Nowak… these names are in contention for the empty spot, the position that will be noting less but a hot seat in just two months when qualifications to World Cup 2014 kick-off.
Polish FA (PZPN) is unable to find coach on its own, look abroad, ask agents and agencies, seek for advice – they are only counting on those that are so desperate to send their CVs to their headquarters. Even with them, PZPN acts strangely and in an embarrassing way – boasting about the names that apparently are interested, but disregarding their qualities easily and quickly. There will be no coach signed from abroad, the choice – at least for those making it – will be left without debate and interviews. No research, no philosophy – just a demand for Jacek Zieliński to continue his job as an assistant in order to learn enough to take reigns himself at some point of the future.
This is controversy in itself – how a man like ex-Legia defender, now coach that lacks any style, any character, any success can be thought to be perfect for the job in the future? As much his work is lauded, as much similar defects, lacks are stressed to be disqualifying by PZPN board.
There is not even a slightest doubt that this team needs a very strong personality that will cope with apparently stabilized squad that for two years won more battles for power with previous coach than important matches on the pitch.
This quality can be given only by someone ambitious, maybe young and definitely inspiring – if you look at the performances of the Dortmund trio, Szczęsny and few others on the club level, then the negative difference in the stature of person that led them as a nation should be put as one of the reasons of the failure.
They played mind games with him, could talk him through most of their wishes and definitely Smuda was scared to lose the dressing room completely over issues that he took as minor ones. This is, however, the past yet looking at the names of candidates should make you notice that there is no one with enough charisma, character, experience and class to change them from primadonnas to footballers we know they can be.
The circle closes as PZPN’s search are nowhere near the person that should be asked to consider the role. Once again – it is not about the names but abilities and position of the coach and finances are not the issue anymore. Euro 2012 turned to be a great success for Platini and UEFA so domestic federation will be given a reward counted in millions Euro. If even then they would be resisting to meet demands of foreign coach, then surely a wealthy sponsor would came in and help – just like one of breweries did with Leo Beenhakker.
The debate reaches new highs of absurd as conclusions are missing the point of why one man failed to prepare one team for three-four games in three years time. So we hear people of TV, media, theater, movie, entertainment and sport speaking of reasons and making themselves sound like they are experts.
When Smuda and his assistants should be asked about failure in finding a deep-lying playmaker and why only Obraniak was prepared to take set-pieces, he is asked whether money and tickets influenced his players. Tactics, personal decisions, substitutions… this is put aside, as if with Smuda’s wish to leave him alone with his own mind to make them up. He failed to understand why he must back his decisions, while rest have forgotten that their critical claims cannot be waved away just like that.
As critical errors are left almost unnoticed, football media and authorities are making new ones by, for example, inciting two sides In a conflict over issues voiced by the players after the tournament ended for Poland.
This will not end well for the team and whoever steps in Smuda’s shoes. He will now have to reestablish the position of the coach among players, but also inspire them to prove their worth, by also looking at options unused by Smuda.
This role is far from description of winning qualification for World Cup in Brazil and the scale of the challenge is also shown by the chaos in first seven days after defeat against Czech Republic. If the new one will get himself into it, he will lose first and most important battle – one that we all know may cost him even the job.