Adam Nawalka, I Blame You

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.

I've no feckin idea what I'm doing
I’ve no feckin idea what I’m doing

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.

Flappy had a great Euro2016
Flappy had a great Euro2016

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.

PazdanAhhh, 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.

The best part of the match last night...
The best part of the match last night…

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.

Gonna be earning the big bucks with PSG in the Champions League this coming season
Gonna be earning the big bucks with PSG in the Champions League this coming season

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.

Stop flogging swag and learn to score goals agian
Stop flogging swag and learn to score goals agian

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.

We Need to Talk about Bananas

Recently I took a jaunt to France (stop boasting ya prick you’re saying) to see a football match and it was grand. More than grand even. But two disturbing things happened in the airport before I’d even left Poland.

Firstly, to get a job in security in Krakow Airport, you must be a grade A geebag. Top of the class in geebag studies. There’s no point in applying if you feel any empathy or sympathy for your fellow human being. To get a job working security in Krakow Airport you must only apply if:

a) you were an demon in a past life, like those evil douchebags from The Witcher

b) you weren’t hugged as a child and at Christmas you were giving a solid brick of Silesian coal from Santa

c) the only thing you hate more than people is more people.

The second thing that happened was I witnessed some locals eating bananas. Have you ever seen locals eating bananas? By Zeus’ beard, it’s a sight. Here’s a video, wait till the end too because he says if you eat the end (i.e. the bottom) you die within 7 days! You feckin die? What’s going on here?

What in the name of Moses’ tablets have I just seen? Like, I heard it was true but I didn’t believe it. My good wife says she used to peel bananas that way too but doesn’t do it around me because I’ll make fun of her. She’s dead right.

But there’s method to this madness, well, kinda, no actually no, there isn’t, it’s madness.

Look we all know the proper way to peel a banana is to use the natural feckin handle that comes with it, y’know, the bit on top. Check it out below:

BananaSo why then do Poles peel their bananas upside down? What in the name of St. Adalbert of Prague is going on? St. Adalbert, by the way is a patron saint of Poland. He was a Hungarian and I couldn’t find a single bit of controversy about him. Stanislaus of Szczepanów & The Virgin Mary, Poland’s other two head honcho patron saints by the way….loads of dirt on them but that’s an article for another time.

Anyway, let’s get to the meat of this here madness and the logic behind eating bananas upside down. I was mad curious, like, mental curious. So much so that I said be damned with your airplane mode. So on my flight I 3 & 4 G’ed the bollix out of finding out the reasons behind this lunacy.

What I found, blew my feckin’ mind.

Most of them had to do with insects, snakes, nasty politicians and that auld dependable, Communism. So then, without further ado, here are the reasons Poles bite off the bottom of bananas, peel it upside down, discard the bitten off bit and eat the other 90%.

Ahhh, this was in my banana!
Ahhh, this was in my banana!

“The bottom part could contain insect larva, which is toxic for us” – what? Seriously? Insect larva? Come on, let’s think about this….you’re an insect, you want to leave your wee babies somewhere safe….hmm, a banana’s skin might be a good idea, oh wait, no, it’s a bad idea, bananas grow and as it grows that greenish-yellow bastard will crush my beautiful babies. Insects don’t lay eggs/larva in fruit. Rotten wood, the ground, tree bark yes, living fruit, no.

“There might be Lamblia’s larvas there” – OK, this thing’s a nasty so and so. A filthy little parasite that will do bad things to your insides, but never, not even once has there been a documented case of it being found in a banana. And anyway, if it is in there, why wouldn’t the whole banana be swimming in this primordial shit? Like, do you really think this Lamblia’s only going to put it in the bottom (uhh matron!) to give those stupid humans a survival chance? Naw. Next.

Don't eat me, I just just sleeping in your banana
Don’t eat me, I just just sleeping in your banana

“Might have spiders’ eggs” – I bet you’re noticing a pattern…..nope, same answer as above. And anyway, the vast majority of spiders’ eggs can be eaten. An extra source of protein y’know?

“If you put the end of banana into vinegar apparently they (the insects) come out” – The best thing about this idea was the forum posters began fighting, saying, no, not vinegar, use sugar, no, not sugar, olive oil. No, not olive oil, you leave the tears of a Warsaw virgin (good luck finding one) beside a banana’s end over night to draw out the insects. Imagine being so dumb you believed that, seriously, just take a moment to yourself and imagine being that stupid. If you can do that you now know what life is like for the average PiS supporter.

“If you eat the  black end, than hair starts growing on your back” – More warmth in winter? Bring it on baby.

“There could be lizard venom in the end and you can die after eating even one banana” – Wouldn’t that be awesome though? Every time you eat a banana you’re dicing with death. Yea baby, I’m hardcore, I eat 3 bananas a day. I laugh in the face of a potential overdose of potassium and I stare down the threat of ingesting lizard venom with great gusto and macho manliness. Come on! Really, is lizard venom going to survive a trip from Africa, even though it’s been in a banana for what? 2 weeks, or more? On a feckin boat, in a massive fridge? And you think the lizard is only going to deposit its venom in the bottom? Really? That’s what you believe? There are biblical episodes of talking bushes and donkeys, virgins giving birth and Zombie people that are more believable.

“Some people think it’s just communist propaganda, it was hard to get them during Communism, and when you could they were crazy expensive anyway, so it was a way to stop people from trying to get bananas” – Now, this makes sense. What’s a sensible comment like this doing on internet forums? Get outta here poindexter with your brain and your smartypants and your logic.

AnPHOTO PIOTR GRZYBOWSKI/SE/EAST NEWS. JARSLAW KACZYNSKI W REDAKCJI SE. POLITYK, POLITYKA, SUPER EXPRESS, REDAKCJA, PIS. 7/03/2011d last but not least:

“Jarosław Kaczyński is there” – OK, fair enough, I don’t want him anywhere near my mouth

 

10 Ways to Trick Poles into Liking You (Part II)

Last week 10 million of you gorgeous, lovely people (honestly, I’d never lie to you) read 10 Ways to Trick Poles into Liking You (Part I) and most seemed to like it.

I hadn’t actually planned on writing a second part, but I wasn’t hunted down, butchered by angry locals and fed to the pigs so I’ll finish what I started. Part II of 10 Ways to Trick Poles into Liking You. Continue reading 10 Ways to Trick Poles into Liking You (Part II)

10 Ways to Trick Poles into Liking You (Part I)

Now, I’ve been on this planet too long and Christ knows I’ve been in Poland too long (I was promised 3 years in Katowice and then we’d move – I’m still waiting). And in my many moons here I’ve somehow mastered how to fit in. I’m so much part of the furniture here I’m literally, not actually literally though, invisible. I’m that manky lamp (I love lamp) in the corner your Ma bought 16 years ago that you’re too lazy to throw away because it’s still slightly useful and it keeps peoples eyes’ off the damp spot. Continue reading 10 Ways to Trick Poles into Liking You (Part I)

Paddy Vs. OLT Express

Last summer Poland welcomed with open arms around 30,000 Irish football supports. It was a joyous occasion, warm weather, cheap food and booze and the single greatest reason I’ve given my friends back in Ireland to move to Poland, the amount of beautiful women (most of whom will do anything to land a westerner). Continue reading Paddy Vs. OLT Express

My First Polish Wedding…..Part II

We arrived in Katowice on the Thursday. The wedding wasn’t until Saturday but I was assured that we’d be busy on Friday, staring out at the flatlands of Poland as we travelled by train for x amount of hours. I enjoy travelling by train. You can just sit back and relax and watch the world go by. Then again, my experience of travelling by train up to then was really just the odd journey between Wexford & Dublin. Polish trains, for as anyone who went to Euro 2012 will tell you, ain’t the luxury that Iarnród Éireann provide. You want a coffee? Bring a flask. Sandwich? Make it yourself. And if you need to use the bathroom well, then that’s a choice you’re going to have to live with for the rest of your days. Continue reading My First Polish Wedding…..Part II

My First Polish Wedding…..Part 1

So I’ve kind of been ripping on Poland recently and I’ve got to take a step back from it before Chairman Jarek and his moronic cronies set their skinhead dogs on me for having a sense of humour.

Let me regale you with a spiel, a two-part spiel that is. I hadn’t long being going out with my dziołcha (pronounced like – joe-ha) when she asked me to a wedding. Wahoo, a Polish wedding. Where is it, says I, Warsaw, Krakow, Wrocław….? Pretending that I knew where any of them actually were on the map. Nope, says she to me, it’s in a place called Lubaczów…it’s in the East of Poland, near the border with Ukraine. Banjo music plays in my head. Squeal like a pig boy. East Poland is wild country, it’s feckin’ bear country. Honestly, bear attacks aren’t uncommon. Wolves and lynx roam free and the people are suspiciously pale-skinned and cross-eyed. Think Leitrim, but better looking.

During Communism the Polish government forcible encouraged people to move to the cities to work in assembly-line factories, coalmines and other soul-destroying jobs. As we all know, donkeys everywhere will follow carrots on sticks and the border regions that Poland shared with Czechoslovakia, Ukraine, Belarus and East Germany became similar to ghost towns. Bears, wolves, lynx and wild hippies flourished. Indeed, these parts of the country were where criminals moved to because they knew the govt. wouldn’t be bothered following them. Hippies moved there for the same reason. And without people to hunt them, animals went at it like…err…..well, wild animals l guess.

The Poles even had a bear in their army

So, I’m off to East Poland for a wedding. To say I was looking forward to it was an understatement. I’d been to Poland only once before at that time and had been to Krakow and Katowice and while the Poles will be the first to admit that they aren’t the most warm or friendly of people to strangers, once you cross their thresholds (it’s a bit like that vampire rule) the hospitality they show cannot be compared to any of Poland’s European neighbours. I was in my future mother-in-law’s house one evening when her neighbour came running in all flustered and breathless and asked for vodka, bread, sugar and milk as she’d run out herself and had guests over. The mother-in-law didn’t blink and literally emptied the fridge for her puffing and panting asthmatic neighbour. I need to ask her why she keeps sugar in her fridge next time I meet her though. Would that happen at home? Probably, but not in Dublin and no feckin way in Karwk where you’d be expected to pay back for a bag of sugar twofold plus a liquid ounce of angel tears and a horse steak.

I’d only heard rumours of what the goings-on at Polish wedding entailed. I’d heard a vicious untruth (at least I thought at the time it was one) that a bottle of vodka is bought for every single guest who attends, including the wee ‘uns. Gasp! I’ll drink pints till I can’t see, but back in those easy-breezy days of my mid-twenties a sniff of vodka would induce a fit of puking that Princess Diana or Kate Moss would’ve been proud of. Another one I’d heard was called ‘the bedding’ but I think the guy who told me had been reading Game of Thrones before it was cool to tell people they were reading Game of Thrones because they wanted to be the cool cats among fantasy nerds before the TV show was announced. Basically, at the end of the night the men surround the bride and the women surround the groom. The happy, drunk couple are hoisted into the air on some wicker seats and are lifted up to their spousal bedroom to exchange bodily fluids so as to, under the various made up gods, legalise the marriage. Along the way, people are encouraged to try to take items of clothing off them and sing some rude songs. Book hipsters are the worst kind of hipsters man. I’d almost believed him.

I found myself in a lock-in session one night in Searson’s pub on Baggot Street a few weeks before we were due to head off for the wedding. I cornered the only Polish man working there so I could find out some info about what was in store for me in Lubaczów. He told me to expect food, tons and tons and tons of the stuff. Meats, pickled herring, all manner of breads, roasted and smoked meat, cheeses, mad wild mushrooms, boar and homemade lard (magic stuff). More cakes than a baker’s orgy. And vodka, truckloads of that vile witch piss and something called bimber too, a Polish poitin but made from fruit instead of spuds, crazy eh? Seven different meals will be served during the day and you’ll have to go to the church, he says, they aren’t like Irish weddings, you’ll never want to go to another Irish wedding again.

Book hipsters are the worst hipster

At Polish weddings they play some party games, and for no reason at all people will burst into song and the whole room joins in. People can get a chant going and the couple have to kiss. You’ll eat and drink and dance. I’ve to dance? I asked. I’ve got a better left foot than James McClean, but it’s on my right side. I used to like dancing, but I remember as a young lad seeing people in their thirties and forties dancing and always thought they looked like day-release patients that were coming off their medication. It wasn’t for me, so as soon as my hair started thinning I ceased to dance. I wouldn’t want some jumped-up kid with high opinions thinking I’m some kind of crazed, balding lunatic.

“Man,” says my new Polish amigo to me putting his hand on my shoulder, “you gotta make sure of one thing at the wedding…..” My ears pricked like a dog had heard a bitch farting in the next room. “It’s a huge insult in Poland for a man to refuse a drink from another man. It’s huge man, whatever about the dancing and eating and everything else at the wedding, if you refuse a drink from someone you could find yourself in the deepest cesspool of shit, especially out in some backwater in the East, those people are wilder than the bears they wrestle with.” He looked me dead in the eyes when he said it. It was the most serious thing I’d ever heard from anyone up to that point in my life. I knew then I was in already in a deep cesspool.