4 wrz 2012

Stanislav Levy - Nothing more to ask for?

The reception at signing of Czech manager, Stanislav Levy to replace Orest Lenczyk just less than four months after he won the second championship at Śląsk Wrocław in their history, wasn't even mixed. From judging by his looks to the poor research done by the club to colourize CV of their new appointment, Czech coach maybe made good impression, but his anonymity is widely criticized. Club workers didn't help at all - Levy was wrongly credited for being ex-Bundesliga coach, while mistranslations during press conference have cost him part of his reputation as a scout. 

Nonetheless, those writing down his achievements and records were not responsible for picking 56-year-old from certain group of candidates. It was Krzysztof Paluszek, Śląsk sport's director - a man who was put aside by Lenczyk's decision to decide on transfers by his own, something that didn't go too well in last two seasons. Latest signings of Marcin Kowalczyk and previously Marek Wasiluk are great examples of that.

Paluszek is a football theorist, author of several coaching books, a person of admirable record when it comes down to building youth structures at regional federation as well as at Zagłębie Lubin, while he also worked with youth national teams and now doing pretty much the same job at Śląsk - after he was let go of transfer responsibilities in September 2010. For the most interesting part, he is close follower of the Bundesliga and admirer of German trends in coaching, preferring 4-2-3-1 as a formation, with fluent 4-4-2 being also a second-best option. 

Stanislav Levy is exactly the same.

There is no worry then that both will not cooperate. Levy, known for this conflicts with boards in Czech league, now will have to work closely with Paluszek over transfers but also club's set up - "the word 'cooperation' is back in manager's job description", said chairman Piotr Waśniewski at today's press conference. 

The most important thing for Śląsk in recent week was to look for totally different type of manager - not only in regards to tactics, but also to what kind of human being one should be. Lenczyk's conflict with the squad was well documented and even surreal at the very end - with throwing empty beer cans from the end of the club bus on route home being one of the highlights - but he worked hard on that kind of reputation. Ignoring the football side of training - jogging around whenever there was a test match - or making his players lift weights just day before the game. Lenczyk was also accused by former players - Sebastian Dudek, Krzysztof Wołczek - of being a liar, saying one things to them, then changing the version only to put the whole blame on Śląsk board. The same board he discredited for transfer of Rafał Grodzicki.  

"Śląsk wanted a famous coach, they've got a good one instead" - said Michal Petrak, Czech football journalist. Levy is highly regarded in his homeland despite not winning anything in their league. Laying the basis for Pavel Vrba's success at Viktoria Plzen was probably the most recognizable achievement, as well as winning Albanian title last year. His credentials from his time in Germany are mostly down to his work as a scout and assistant or second coach, not manager - not something that should make his appointment less meaningful, of course.

One of the most often repeated sentences about Levy's work in Czech league was that he connected well with players (something at which Lenczyk obviously failed), got them playing with pace (Lenczyk's Śląsk was slow and predictable), and with attacking, fluent style (Lenczyk's pre-match talks were only about securing own goal) while footballers actually enjoy his training sessions (Lenczyk's squad often moaned that they were made training more often on gym mats, than at normal pitch). Whenever Levy was near the sack in Czech league, players and fans always stood behind him - something quite uncommon in every country in this job.

This, of course, may be only wishful thinking but all in all, it looks like managerial signing was made with some research before, preceded by interviews about and with candidates. Usually it is looking for the easiest move possible - there are always the same names thrown in the mix of speculations, with favourites being those who are well connected inside the game. In this case, the research was done by Krzysztof Paluszek and he might have made this choice by own admission of what is good and bad in football coaching yet at the same time, he went for the wisest and safest option at the very time. Śląsk owners - even though their experience in and knowledge about football is unimpressive - pressed on foreigner, someone from the outside of the system, person with good patterns and full of experiences. With pressure of the time, they could really do with one phone to those mentioned in the press - Maciej Skorża or Franciszek Smuda - and choose the easiest path possible. It happens so often in the Ekstraklasa.

What is also important, if the squad was moaning about Lenczyk's behaviour towards them, they were given a leader of totally different kind. There is a strong feeling in Śląsk's board now, that after such conflict in the dressing room that hammered club's chances in the European cups, players were given last chance to prove themselves, prove their worth. After all, they cannot ask for more, can they?

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