Second up in our season reviews, Michał Zachodny talks us through the fortunes of 2011-12 Champions Śląsk Wrocław.
What Śląsk Wroclaw fans feel right now is a relief – this season is over. What started as an unexpectedly fine European run with a show of proper high-tempo pressing football under Stanislav Levy, however, quite quickly turned into dour the reality of Ekstraklasa, where players once and quite early too rode to their limits and had nothing left in the tank. Poor results followed and, without sufficient reinforcements and the eventually thin squad at Levy’s disposal, only the great goal-scoring form of Marco Paixao kept Śląsk within distance of the league’s top sides.
Perhaps the most harmful fact of last year is the one indeed about Marco Paixao. After years without having a proper finisher and having to fight with the overweight Omar Diaz, the poorly skilled Gikiewicz and the out-of-form Voskamp – albeit in successful seasons – Śląsk have finally found themselves a man with a scoring instinct. And then they failed to support him.
When Waldemar Sobota was sold to Club Brugge, Śląsk was like an eagle ready to peg but unable to fly. Dramatic last day dealings in the winter transfer window could not save Levy’s position and he left after struggling to control the ageing dressing room as well. Club legend Tadeusz Pawłowski took the club and, even though he was unable to turn the fortunes and move them into the top eight, a steady ninth place finish was guaranteed with only one goal conceded in the final seven games.
Smiles should be spared, however. Śląsk is under total deconstruction. About half a dozen players may leave on free transfers and few others may be pushed out of the door, as finances do not allow the club to prosper as generously as they did. Pawłowski stressed the importance of giving the youth a chance and with support of few older guardians – it still remains unknown which will remain – a calmer season is expected. Or at least only in case if Marco – a man worth of 28 goals – stays. Build around him and there might not be anything more fans wished they haven’t seen from their club.