Season Review: Cracovia

Cracovia

 

It’s been a roller coaster of a season for Cracovia. Stefan Kubiczyn gives it the once-over for our Season review.

…And breathe.

Nobody expected Cracovia to have a simple season, especially given the dry-mouthed anxiety of their promotion day a year ago; but virtually every matchday has produced despair, joy, and everything in between. I maintained from the point that we got promoted that I would be satisfied with merely staying up, which is fortunate given our final position.

Our summer transfer dealings were extremely positive – Krysztof Pilarz was signed to a permanent deal after being effective, if occasionally terrifyingly loose-gloved, while on loan in 2012/13; and Dawid Nowak – who some saw as Poland’s future number 9 back when Robert Lewandowski was still regarded by Dortmund fans as an unworthy understudy to Lucas Barrios – brought a necessary top-level class to our attack, as well as an alternative option to coach Wojciech Stawowy’s preferred false 9 tactic.

The Pasy have made a habit of performing brightly in first halves before collapsing in the second, so it’s fitting that our form has played out in the same way. If finishing 5th at the winter break was beyond most expectations, then it perhaps gave the team a false sense of ease which led to an almost disastrous spring round. The new league format worked against them as a comfortable mid-table spot quickly turned into a fight against relegation – indeed, it can be argued that no side’s fortunes were affected as severely as Cracovia’s by the split. This struggle of course resulted in the biggest story around the club this year with the sacking of Stawowy, a popular and idiosyncratic club icon who fought regularly and publicly with the board.

Although the last few weeks have been fairly miserable, anyone who supports a smaller club will know that it’s important to concentrate on the positive memories, and this season has provided enough of those that it doesn’t seem a total disaster. There was the return of the Great Derby of Kraków, fortunately as peaceful in the wider city as it was raucous in the stadium (though of course too raucous for the city authorities who banned Pasy fans from their stadium at Ul. Kałuży for two matches as a result of smoke grenades being let off during the match).

Adam Marciniak gave the club representation in the national team for the first time since Łukasz Mierzejewski was called up in 2011. If I could pick one memory to sum up the entire season, though, it would be the sight of deeply uninspiring reserve goalie Matko Perdijić receiving a backpass under pressure on his 6-yard line, eyeing the onrushing striker and taking the stadium’s nerves to breaking point before executing a flawless Cruyff turn. That shambolic but somehow effective act of skill over sense is the spirit of Cracovia in a single move. Show me another club in this league where you could see that.

Next year will see a new coach – the promising young manager Robert Podoliński has been recruited from the Pierwsza Liga’s Dolcan Ząbki, and looks set to continue the club’s tradition of attractive football. Some key players will have to be replaced – neither Saidi Ntibazonkiza nor Edgar Bernhardt will return in July. Young players like Sebastian Steblecki or Bartosz Kapustka have not yet proven their ability to make an impact at this level, while the sporting director has still failed to address either the defensive solidity or goalscoring threat lost with winter’s departure of Miloš Kosanović.

My only ambitions are that we stay up again, and have a little fun on the way.

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