Poland didn’t so much crash out of Euro 2016 last night as they wimpered out after yet another dour performance against a relentlessly-boring Portugal.
Harsh? Yea and it’s going to get harsher. The Polish team have been getting high praise for playing as a solid team, difficult to beat and to break down. And that’s true, Poland only conceded 2 goals in 5 games. But they only scored 4 in 5 at the same time. For me the blame must lie with Poland’s inexperienced manager, Adam Nawalka.
Nawalka didn’t have a great career, he played for Wisla Krakow for ten years before heading off to America to play with a bunch of nobodies called the Polish-American Eagles. Am I being harsh again? Well, it’s like this, they don’t even have a Wikipedia page. Anyway, during his time at Wisla Krakow he played 190 times, scoring 9, yes, 9 times. Not only is it fair to say he doesn’t like goals, he’s fuckin allergic to them.
OK, OK, you’re shouting “Spud man, ya douchebag, Poland scored the most goals when qualifying for Euro 2016 and captain Robert Lewandownski scored a truckload of goals!” Yea, you’re right, Poland scored the most goals. Why? Gibraltar (not a proper country) and Georgia, that’s why. Against those two teams Poland scored 23 goals, conceding one. “But we beat the world champions Germany!” Yea, so what. Germany won the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, since then they have lost to some pretty shitty teams, they include: The United States, Ireland, Slovakia and England. They also lost to France. So beating Germany with their World Cup hangover means fuck all. Sorry.
How did Poland really do at Euro 2016? Well, in their first match they could only beat Northern Ireland 1-0. Wow, well done there lads. A pathetically boring 0-0 against the auld enemy, Germany followed and y’know, that’s fair enough, both sides didn’t need to win and both were happy to draw knowing they’d need not to lose in their final games. So, up next came another derby, this time Ukraine. For some reason Ukraine have a good reputation, but let’s be honest, they suck. The only team worse than them in the Euros was Russia.
So what the fuck was Nawalka thinking in this game? Poland needed a win to make sure they didn’t finish 3rd and this guy sets up a defensive formation hoping not to concede against a team that were already eliminated from the competition and couldn’t score in a King’s Landing brothal with a boat-full of gold doubloons. Ukraine had the better chances and were unlucky not to win. Take a bow Lukasz Fabianski. Poland were scared shitless of the worst team in France. Why?
Herein lies Nawalka’s problem. He has no idea what he’s doing. He’s the David Moyes of international football. He’s so fuckin out of depth he’s a clown fish at a hammerhead shark orgy. He has no idea how to use his best players. So what does he do, he sets up ultra defensively, hoping to score on a counter. Something none of his players do at club level. Robert Lewandowski, the world’s best Number 9, scored one goal at this tournament. One shaggin’ goal! Why? Because Nawalka would rather his players keep the ball in midfield or defence than dare try to score. Now I don’t know about you, but I read somewhere that the aim of football is to score more poxy goals than the other team. I could be wrong.
On the other hand there’s nothing wrong with defensive football, when it’s played properly. But you must know what you’re doing. Jose Mourinho and Diego Simeone are masters of the dark art of negative, defensive football, they drive opponents mental with their devilish tactics and underhanded strategies. But they aren’t forced to play with shit players like Pazdan and Jędrzejczyk and Mączyński.
Ahhh, Pazdan was great you’re shouting. Look, Pazdan is Poland’s Gary Breen, he’s all heart and he gives everything for his teammates and his country and that’s all you can ask of him but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a donkey. And that’s the reason we still sing about Gary Breen, he wasn’t the best but he gave everything. Pazdan is the same, he’s adequate, OK, donkey is being harsh but he’s a fuckin Legia Warsaw player, he has no right to be playing against the likes of Christiano Ronaldo and Thomas Muller. Your other CB, Glik, he’s the man, he should be captain. If Glik told me to follow him into the fires of Hell I wouldn’t even question him.
So, Poland qualified and had to play Switzerland. A good draw on paper. Switzerland are decent, but they’re not as good as Poland on paper. Again, instead of allowing the attackers Lewandowski and Milik to link up with the pace of Błaszczykowski and Grosicki and attack a weak Switzerland defence Nawalka’s tactic was; naw, lads don’t bother attacking just pass the ball around the back 6 and maybe we’ll get a counter attack. Another borefest insued. Maybe I’m missing something here and Nawalda just wanted to bore his opponents into submission and that was his path to the final?
Penalties next. If you’re the type of person that says penalties are a lottery then please go to Bieszczady find the biggest woodpecker around and inform him that your skull is solid oak. Penalties are a combination of skill, nerve and a bit of luck. There’s no lottery involved. The Polish penalties were sublime and they fully deserved to go through.
So onto Portugal. Portugal are shit, they’re really, really shit. We’re 5 games in now and they’ve won one game, which was in extra time. All their other matches were draws. There’s no way Poland should’ve feared anything. But hey-ho, we’ve got Adam Nawalka, the man who is more afraid of goals than Jaroslaw Kaczynski is afeared of brown immigrants. So again, in a team with players of the quality of Lewandowski, Milik, Błaszczykowski, Krychowiak and Piszczek we instead get a game where it looked like the players were going to get fined if they moved the ball past the halfway line.
It started so well, Poland were a goal up after 2 minutes and stayed on the front foot for another 13 minutes but then it all went to shit. Portugal got back into the game and it wasn’t long before they scored. The instilled negative attitude that manager Nawalka has brainwashed his players with then came galloping back and for the rest of the game Poland were happy to watch the clock count down until we had penalties. We all know how that went.
It’s like this, Nawalka is clueless at this level. He has one of the best players in the world in Lewandowski. Along with him, he has the likes of Milik, Błaszczykowski, Krychowiak, Piszczek, Glik and Fabianski. These players are better than a fucking 4-4-2 1990s-style catenaccio. They are fast, skillful, technical players. FFS, 4 of them play regularly in either the Champions League or the Europa League. This muppet in charge has won nothing as a manager. He’s been a manager since 1996 and he’s won nothing. Nothing. Even as a player he only won one league medal.
Do you really think that the lads he’s managing take this guy seriously? They play in the Champions League, the Europa League, the Spanish, German, Italian and Premier leagues, this guy’s never even managed outside Poland. He’s a joke.
But his boss Zibi Boniek won’t hire a foreigner because he hates foreigners, which is pretty rich coming from a guy who left Poland as soon as he could and only returned when they made him president of the Polish FA. Also Nawalka is one of the lowest paid managers in Europe. Northern Ireland’s manager is paid 5 times what Nawalka is paid. England’s Roy Hodgson was paid 17.5 times what Nawalka is paid. So, yea, pretty obvious why Zibi wants to renew his contract. In 2012 Zibi was paying himself 3 times what he pays Nawalka. It’s certainly increased since then.
We need to talk about Bobby Lewandiveski while we’re here. He scored 13 goals in qualifying, however 9 of those were against either Gibraltar or Georgia so they don’t really count. Bobby mate, you’ve got some soul searching to do. Not only did did he do a Judas on Borussia Dortmund and join Bayern Munich he’s been a terrible leader for his team. Make Glik or Krychowiak the captain, lads who’ll shout and organise the team. Men that aren’t worried about T-mobile phones and shitty Bytom suits. Scoring one goal at Euro 2016 is simply not good enough for a sticker of his reputation. And maybe now that’s all it is; reputation.
Lewandowski is the Joe Hart of Polish football, every time you open a magazine he’s there selling some swag. Every time you turn on the tele he’s flogging petrol or some shitty mobile phone. Even when you leave the house there he is plastered on another fecking billboard selling some needless crap. Lad, here’s some advice, you’ve got enough fucking money, maybe instead of constantly being on advertisements maybe you could spend some time training and learning to score goals again because baby, you’ve obviously forgotten how to do that regularly.
And I’m not the grinch, Poland today woke up to a massive hangover but also with a feeling of pride in the national team that the country probably hasn’t felt since 1974. Even I’m proud of the team and I’m just an Irish immigrant living here.
It’s great, no, it’s better than great, it’s fan-feckin-tastic. Having a country unified behind a football team is a wonderful thing, it creates such a buzz and a good mood in the country. But, it could’ve been so much more, if the manager giving instructions to the players knew what the rest of us know then Poland would be playing in the semi-finals of Euro 2016 against Belgium or Wales. All you had to do was get them to attack. Why has he instilled so much fear into a lightening-fast team? Why be so conservative with some of the best talent Poland has ever produced?
Let’s finish on Nawalka, Poland needs to look abroad. Poland’s last two managers were both recruited from the national league, three if you count Smuda who started in Poland but also worked abroad, and they’ve all done a terrible job. Will Boniek look abroad? No, he won’t because of the reasons above and while Poland will easily qualify from a crap group for the World Cup in Russia in two years time these same problems will surface again. If you play negative football you need to have your tactics and strategies learnt off to a tee. Nawalka’s managerial style isn’t to do that. He just presumes his players hate goals as much as he does and while he remains in charge Poland are destined to repeat the same mistakes.