2 sie 2012

Predictable disaster as Śląsk heads for Champions League exit

Some would say that winning the championship was a huge step forward for Śląsk, a move into the right direction, a better future. But surely, that person, could not be wider off the point, especially seeing as Orest Lenczyk's team heads to the exit from the Champions League just after their third game this summer. While there are all kinds of defeats, this is possibly the one that hurts the least - only because the difference in class between Śląsk Wroclaw and Helsingborgs IF was so big.

The 0-3 result does not even say how much better Swedish champions were. Of course, that could be one of their best performances in months but even given that eventuallity, Śląsk shouldn't look as kids lost in the fog, after long walk with heavy backpacks. Because this is exactly how slow they were compared to their rivals, how wisely they have played, how panicked they were. 

The championship title was supposed to be only a start of dination, of a legacy that would allow join Śląsk to the likes of Legia, Lech and Wisła, those teams at the very top of domestic league. After the last whistle went and final vicotry in Krakow was celebrated on the pitch, that chance was already gone. There was no imagnation of how painful the following weeks would be for the team, and how clueless people at the club were back then. How clueless they are now, probably scratching their heads, thinking about reasons of tonight's defeat. Only the biggest optimist can hope that they will come to senseful conclusions.

They have lost seven valuable players - or rather allowed them to leave, in search for better clubs (Celeban), better enviroment (Madej, Ćwielong), better career options (Pietrasiak, Dudek, Sztylka, Wołczek). But replacements were never brought in Wroclaw, as, up to date, only four footballers were signed (Jodłowiec, Grodzicki, Patejuk, Kowalczyk), though it was quite obvious it would take time to fit them in, to make the team click again, play the system Lenczyk applied.

After painful defeat Lenczyk claimed that he had selected 25 players for possible deals in the summer but by decision of the board, based on club's finances - though he never claimed that these footballers would change anything. Change the image of the team that against Helsingborgs was slow, clueless and clearly lacked ambition. The leaders have failed but as much as the manager - he struggled to put their fitness levels anywhere near the requirements of even the Champions League qualifying rounds.

To be fair, Śląsk problems have not started when Orest Lenczyk joined the club, but in a fight for results, he couldn't do anything more than just make an experienced side that would be competitive against top sides in the league. There was and there is no background in the club of Polish champions - maybe Lenczyk is not disrespectful to Śląsk's youth, but he struggles to think that there is enough talent in them to make them professional footballers one day.

He often moans over the selection, scouting system, but barely does anything to build the system that would be successful in the future, give enough of his experience to allow Śląsk build a legacy. But, looking at Śląsk's defeat, in search of optimism, there is nothing to back fans' faith. And even though we will have another season without Polish side in the Champions League group stages, this is probably the saddest conclusion for current champions and the state of domestic football. How little it takes to build a side capable to win something in Ekstraklasa, and how ignorant a club can be over looking at the wider picture, having a plan of building everything from scratches, despite resources and examples to follow.

And how far from European sides, even as average as Helsingborgs, that puts Polish teams. If Śląsk would make it to the Champions League, that would be a miracle, but also sad confirmation of which template other clubs would follow. A disaster like that, for someone as close to the club as the author of these words, is a sad eventuality but also a chance for new start. But that does not make me an optimist - only because I know that everyone at Śląsk will move on and choose not to look back and learn. They will live in neglection only to find themselves neglected from the group that went the right way.

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