If someone would think that Euro 2012 is over and every debate about the spectacular failure of Polish national team settled, then think again. After nomination of the new manager, when all eyes should be on upcoming tough challenges for Waldemar Fornalik's men, strange comments from Robert Lewandowski occurred, hitting out at Franciszek Smuda.
With a cold blood, Borussia's striker and scorer of the first goal at Euro 2012 executed his former manager, stating that everything what Smuda was responsible for, failed during the tournament. From the selection, two-years-long preparations and tactics, Lewandowski has not given any space for praise, any doubt to think that the fault could be on the players' side - even though after the Russia game, he publicly stated that everything is going wrong.
"I never wanted to moan about the pre-Euro camp in Austria, but I've felt that the trainings are too tough, that we had to limit the intensity of the sessions" - Lewandowski said - "trainings were tougher than at club level before season."
The rant did not stop there though, as claims and accusations become harder to bear for every coach. "We never discussed tactics with him. I felt strange to play even against four defenders at times. Even though I've dribbled past one of them, the second always was there and I had no one to pass to. We had no men forward, I regret that we played so defensively" - Lewandowski said.
In an interview for Sport.pl, striker, subject of potential moves to Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea, also stated that the manager had no hearing among the team. "There was no talk during the half time. We settled on our own how to play and behave on the pitch."
"We had no plan B than individual moves. Each training during those three years looked the same, warm up and then 11-a-side training game, some set-pieces at the end" - said Lewandowski, also claiming that before the match with Russia, they have changed Smuda's directions in the tunnel, at the last minute before the game. Finally, he put the blame for the results - only two draws, that have put Poland last in the weakest group - mostly on manager's head, saying that the players have failed but wouldn't if everything would be right on Smuda's side.
Smuda behaved well, took the damning critique with class rather unknown from him, clearly knowing that any aggressive response would be taken only as black PR. "Robert is young man, he has right to make mistakes. I forgive him everything. I tried to help him, help all of them" - said Franciszek Smuda.
Make no mistake, the battle will go on and there is expectation that others will follow in critique of the manager. Looking at the atmosphere in the squad now, and how poisoned the relationship between the team and Smuda is, there seems to be no room for reasonable talk on reasons why, again, Polish football falls behind even Europe's second-best teams in terms of technique, quality, tactics and fitness. If in that battle someone would distribute points, then certainly three would go to Smuda, who had won, for once, with his class silence over those issues - probably knowing that further debate over the issues would mean his degeneration as a manager.
But Lewandowski has a point in his critique, even if it is ill-advised, mistimed and conflicted with everything that he said during the tournament. However, he should know better, ignite the debate over every issue without making his rant so private, making the interview an attacking one, rather than insightful. "Player should respond on the pitch" - says Zbigniew Boniek in an interview for Weszlo website, criticizing Lewandowski. "In Czech match, he had a match ball on his feet. If he had scored that, which version would stood, the one after Russia game [when striker positively talked about the manager and the team] or the one he revealed now?" - Boniek asks.
It seems that there is no one who would take the blame, who would be ready to stand out of the crowd and say that the decisions taken were wrong, that they have not performed well enough. Even Smuda, with his lack of response now, said before Lewandowski's interview that he wouldn't change a thing if he had a second chance. This obvious defeat is still unsettled, the guilt is bounced back from each side like a tennis ball.
But fans observe and make opinion on their own, and this battle seems lost by both leaders of the team, both and the only players that have scored for Poland at Euro 2012. Błaszczykowski's comments about lack of tickets for players' families straight after the Czech match in the mixed zone were a huge, costly mistake, much worse than Lewandowski's rant. Now, those who were said to be the only positives in the much-average squad, are said to be Fornalik's biggest challenges at the start of his tenure - to cope with primadonnas, international stars that can, without a blink, crush manager's reputation after defeat.
This could be also definition of every defeat we have seen in recent decades in Polish football. Conflicts with media, blameless managers, self-titled heroic footballers have overshadowed the debate and the definition of the responsibility over defeat was never close to the right one. As always, the focus was on the short term, the last days of preparations, single training sessions, one match, one move, one decision, but never the longer perspective was even taken in account. No wonder that Polish football has not moved forward in last ten years. With PZPN's claims that they are not responsible for coaching nations' youth, there is no hope that it will in next decade as well.