Bubble Bursts

White EaglePlayed 3, lost 2, drawn 1, scored 1, conceded 4. This Polish team was simply woeful and perhaps the worst team of the tournament. Poland lost 0-1 to Croatia who after qualifying for the next round decided to rest practically their whole team and play a reserve side. However, Croatia’s reserve side outplayed and outclassed a dreadful Polish side that simply did nothing.

40 million or so Polish people were convinced that the national side would be able to put up a good performance against Germany, beat Austria and grind out a decent result against Croatia. But why? Why was the whole of Poland so convinced this would happen when reality demonstrated to us that Poland were never up to the task. In fact, the Poland that turned out at Euro 2008 looked a far worst team than the one at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. The reason for this misplaced optimism arose from the now historic victory against Portugal in the qualifiers. The sad truth, however, is that Poland never actually looked a good team and that one victory against Portugal seemed to spur the Poles on and believe in something no more than a pipe dream.

Success in Failure
The much-maligned, tainted and corrupt Polish Football Association (PZPN) needs to have a long, hard look at itself. On the backdrop of what has been going on in Polish football in recent years – corruption, dodgy refereeing, bizarre decisions by the PZPN regarding promotions and relegations (with rules changes every year and sometimes even mid-season) – then the Polish national side have done unbelievably well. In fact, their success in the qualifiers is unprecedented when compared to the quality of domestic football and respect has to go to Dutch coach Beenhakker for his work on and off the field.

Quo Vadis, Polonia?
Artur BorucIt would be foolish to sack Beenhakker because, as I’ve mentioned, Poland were never going to pull up trees and suddenly become world beaters. They simply didn’t have the quality, speed, guile, passion or know-how to win a game. This will be particularly worrying and personally deflating for Leo who now completes his THIRD international tournament without winning a single game. But Poland can take heart from the fact that they did qualify for this tournament in the first place, they are hosting the next Euro tournament and they have, in their goalkeeper Artur Boruc, a player who will no doubt go on to greater things and, God willing, will be a shining light for Polish football for the next ten years or so.


8 thoughts on “Bubble Bursts

  1. Agreed, they were lame throughout the whole tournament (can we stop talking about Webb now?), and probably deserve the wooden spoon. Also agreed, the stench of corruption from the PZPN is overwhelming (something about Listkiewicz’s smirk just makes me want to arrest him every time I see him on TV).

    But with the obvious exception of Boruc, quite simply the players aren’t really up to it. There’s no sense in getting too cross with them. If Tiger Woods beats Jim Todd at golf, that doesn’t automatically mean Jim Todd is a slacker or hopeless; he’s just playing out of his league. It’s gonna take a root-and-branch reworking of all of Polish football, taking many years.

    Fortunately, when you look at the boost the tournament has given to Austrian and Swiss football (they were expected to be the wooden-spooners, and both did better than expected), we might hope that 2012 will have a similar effect here and in Ukraine… if the govt can pull its finger out and get the infrastructure ready in time – which is my biggest worry now, much bigger than how the team may or may not perform then.

  2. Yes, expectations were dangerously high (for a team that has never qualified for the Euro before). Poland were just out of their depth and it (painfully) showed. Already the mischief makers have begun to call for Leo’s head (Polsat and Polska) but if he can stick the fickle Polish press than I think he’ll do very well. At least change that losing mentality and instil some much-needed professionalism into Polish football.

  3. When yesterday we lost, once again, I felt terrible, betrayed, disillusioned. I watched international tournaments in 2002 and 2006, in which Poland took part, and just can’t take it any more! This time I had so much hope and faith in the Polish team, hoping against hope. Even yestarday I could still see a glimmer of hope, counting on a miracle… I guess being an optimist is sometimes ridiculous.

  4. No, it’s not ridiculous but false optimism is. I believe wholeheartedly that the lame Polish media are to blame particularly those clowns at Polsat Sport who have as much collective sporting know-how as I do in my left butt cheek. They’re the ones who extravagantly played Leo up and no, while things are not so merry, are blaming everyone but the players, who frankly were just not good enough.

  5. I think all those events were to be expected. As usual, we have entered competition, to which we were barely prepared. Sport reporters were heating the atmosphere, and everything has ended exactly like every realist would expect. Being realist has nothing to do with being pessimist – I think without all the uproar about our chances and opportunities Euro 2008 perception would be better. We have to face the fact that with our great team of everlasting stars, getting into the tournament was as big achievement as it was surprising.

    Leo said recently that without deep changes in PZPN we can’t do anything more – and I agree with him. I mean, what we can do with players “raised” in our league? I don’t know why people keep watching those matches…

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