If last season of Ekstraklasa football taught fans anything, it was definitely that the title was up for anybody's taking. Śląsk Wrocław were the eventual winners ahead of Ruch Chorzów - two huge surprises and causes of mass depression regarding chances of these sides in Europe, sadly confirmed by their future performances.
This season - our focus being purely on Ekstraklasa - is slightly different. Strong statement were made by Lech and Legia at the start with both being in the top two spots, conceding eleven goals together, the same number Polish champions allowed to put past them in eight rounds so far. Single games were as promising for fans of "Wojskowi" and "Kolejorz" - the former comfortably controlled the game with Pogoń (away, 3-0), Wisła (home, 2-1) and Korona (home, 4-0), while the latter showed similar tactical awareness by three away wins with Zagłębie, Polonia and GKS, sending Piast and Ruch home with baggage of eight goals combined.
Their game in four weeks time will be crucial, but there is more to look forward to in the Ekstraklasa's title race. Śląsk Wrocław are shaking off after their horrible start and long process of saying goodbye to Orest Lenczyk, while Polonia Warszawa may not be that far off as their heads are clear of the mad owner's pressure, as Józef Wojciechowski is long gone - hopefully forgotten.
But the third strength this season may be a little bit of surprise. Coming off from eighth position last season - an admirable achievement for Adam Nawałka, given all the problems he had to face throughout the campaign - while current started with Górnik Zabrze hoping for as safe year, maybe even confirming their mid-table position when winter would come.
Adam Nawałka is looking forward to fight for the second title of his managerial career
Things are, however, slightly different. Górnik is up there competing with the best, showing organization and qualities that could be seen only in glimpses when the season closed last May. Arkadiusz Milik has made a huge step forward, putting himself on the team-sheet against England from being a pure no-name just six months ago with two goals in Ekstraklasa to his name. Prejuce Nakoulma looked for a move but the wage and fee needs of Górnik and the winger himself couldn't be matched by interested parties.
He went back and went back with a smile - Górnik welcoming him with a pleasure, as some part of Nawałka's plan was missing. Nakoulma had to play and was given time and confidence of the manager to get back to his best - which he confirmed had happened, by scoring four in last three games. His linking with Arkadiusz Milik on the counter is a pleasure to watch. Now both have eleven goals combined, while the rest of the team could score only five.
There are others, too. Łukasz Skorupski may be guilty of a blunder or two in the season so far, but his overall performances have put him in the Poland's manager notes and on the reserves list as well. Adam Danch is the leader matching the legends of previous hard-tackling, no-nonsense, perfect-positioning sense midfielders. Paweł Olkowski has apparently caught the eye of Borussia Dortmund's scouts, Michael Bemben played above anything we have seen so far from a right back in the Ekstraklasa 2013 edition and Aleksander Kwiek is a pleasure to watch. Adam Nawałka has build an organism that constantly develops as each part is creating new borders for itself and the team - arguably it will be the winter activity that may give the answer to Gónik's ambitions when the second round kicks off, but there are reasons for which Zabrze can look at the club with more positiveness in the eyes.
It will be also too much to talk about Górnik's title qualities but for once, no one should doubt that such surprise might happen. Above all the solidness performed by Legia and Lech there are reasons for which competitiveness of the league may not be shortened to only two of them - the former lack of true character and nervousness when put under constant pressure (as was shown in 2-2 draw with Górnik) and the latter's lack of quality striker and manager's Mariusz Rumak's minimalistic tactics that cost him the points in Gdansk and in goalless draw at home. Yes - to Górnik again.
If anything like that happens, surely Górnik will be another example that money mean nothing in the league. With them in cash demand and still on the financial back foot, the club is looking forward to the opening of the three stands that will set up new standards not only in Zabrze but in the whole region of Upper Silesia - Gliwice standing apart. This couldn't came too soon and the hope is that attendances will rise to the level known when Górnik's ambitions were clarified bravely by new ambitious owners, one of leading insurance companies, that the title should come in 2012. It didn't - even the relegation had happened before as debts rose and investments hit the floor, but now Górnik is on the up and no one should wave their credentials away.
Much is down to Adam Nawałka's work with fine but experience and overall quality lacking squad and, who knows, if it isn't Górnik who will fight for the title very soon, then the manager may relish the challenge himself - though at different club.