8 wrz 2012

Encouraging result for Fornalik's team in Podgorica

If there is a map of Europe's football capitals and it is graduated with colours by difficulty to play there, then among obvious destinations like Madrid, London and Berlin would be one certainly smaller but not less tough to visit. Podgorica in Montenegro would be definitely coloured with red.

Better sides have struggled there against Vukcević, Jovetić and Vucinić, while the most important thing is to respond with same character that is shown by hostile fans. Despite winning early penalty - as Lewandowski's run was cut short unfairly by Savić - and following conversion by Błaszczykowski, Montenegro was on top for the rest of opening half. Brnović's men were teaching Fornalik's team a lesson and not one restricted only to standing up for a fight on a football pitch - their passing was slick, precise and technique good enough to allow them continuously skip past slow Polish markers.

"My players were scared of what might await them" - said Waldemar Fornalik afterwards and it was easily seen as not even early lead could settle their nerves. Przemysław Tytoń was hit and stunned for a longer while by a firecracker thrown from home end, as other objects landed on the pitch throughout the game.

But that does not explain mistakes made by his players - lack of assurance when Borysiuk was down as hosts continued to play and scored their first goal. Then, whenever given the ball, they struggled to keep it for even few seconds, always playing it the same way - over to right wing where Błaszczykowski tried to skip past two-three rivals and pass it to Lewandowski. It worked only once, though.

Fortunately, before the break came, Montenegro scored their second, a fine block & move cooperation at corner from Savić and Vucinić, as the latter headed in. Fornalik knew he has to react quickly and respond strongly, assessing well that the midfield battle was lost - Ariel Borysiuk's inexperience at international level (it was his first competitive match for Poland) was quickly exposed by more aggressive rivals and he really looked like he needed a break. Adrian Mierzejewski may not be stronger in that aspect but he quickly showed that he doesn't like to give the ball away often, provoking more movement from his colleagues and winning space in the final third with his passes.

Response was quick enough to unsettle hosts with fine goal of Mierzejewski - Obraniak crossed from left, he headed the ball in. Just several minutes later they were down to ten men, as nerves were on Montenegro's side now, and Poland grew in confidence. Only Obraniak's stupidity to react when provoked again, charging at his rival and putting his forehead close enough to give him a reason to dive and force red card for Polish attacking midfielder. From that moment, game evened out and there was even scare at the end, but opening draw is now a fact.

Waldemar Fornalik knew from the start that he will be compared to Smuda and he is already showing important differences that separate him from the failure of previous regime. Starting from choosing a suit instead of track-suit, for example, he will not trust Obraniak again - perhaps wisely but the player will have to win his trust again and with a disciplinary investigation ahead, he may not have time for it in next few months.

But he also has to know that Poland may need to start the games with 4-1-4-1, shape they are looking better in, as it was shown in stages even in Talin in opening match of his tenure. Again, he must be strong with his decisions - Lewandowski and his friends did not like it when Smuda tried to change formation and style - but he may have a point to show to his players. Second half from his side was not perfect - even far from it - yet if Lewandowski had improved his finishing a bit tonight, there would be national support for manager, not the players. They were given trust, now it's Fornalik's turn - if he will continue to give reasons to believe there is a chance for this squad to progress (results are surely the best way to do so) even the best individual displays will be overshadowed by his personality. The one that was mostly criticized at his arrival.

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