Pat Nowak

Desperate Times for Lech After Misguided Transfer Windows

Lech Poznan players react after losing 1:2 to newly promoted Zaglebie Lubin on Friday / Adam Ciereszko / Lech Poznan
Desperate Times for Lech After Misguided Transfer Windows

At the end of the day, the first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one.

The problem here lies in Poznan. Lech’s pre-season signings were expected to strengthen the team, but turned out to be nothing more than… duds.

Surprisingly, each of them have been but a waste of money – especially for a club which isn’t exactly swimming in it.

Kadar, Holman, Tetteh, Robak, Dudek, Thomalla. Not one of them turned out to be anything more than several digits less in Lech’s bank account.

Lech Poznan used to pride itself on its scouting. Admittedly, it was truly something special. At least for Ekstraklasa standards. Names such as Robert Lewandowski, Slawomir Peszko, Semir Stilic, Artjoms Rudnevs, Kasper Hamalainen, and Barry Douglas quickly come to mind. Those players were brought in recent years to Lech and became stars. They excelled and made an impact, not only showed up to collect a paycheck.

Unfortunately, nowadays it seems that somewhere along the way the Kolejorz have simply lost that ability to discover those “diamonds in the rough”.  If anything, it went to rivals Legia Warsaw (Nemanja Nikolic, anyone?). Some of the credit there can also go toward the capture of former Lech scout Sergei Chitrikov, who jumped ship to join the capital city club back in February. Chitrikov was instrumental in ushering Rudnevs from Zalaegerszegi TE of the Hungarian league to Lech.

For Lech, almost everything they touch lately turns into dust. Expensive dust. For more than half a year Lech have signed no one noteworthy. So was the case in the winter, so it is also the same story this summer.

Tamas Kadar, David Holman, Abdul Aziz Tetteh, Marcin Robak, Dariusz Dudka, Denis Thomalla. Even mentioning Arnaud Djoum is depressing, whose contract was terminated shortly after only three games in the blue uniform.

Instead of strengthening the Kolejorz these transfers have only weakened it. Granted, the argument that most of these were free transfers can be made. However, lets keep in mind that Lech could have invested money in one or two solid signings. The Poznan club instead decided to spread that out for seven “hit-or-miss” additions. Classic case of quantity over quality.

The money spent on them is only cash that keeps going down the drain and has already cost the club from qualifying to the prestigious UEFA Champions League – where they would had made a pretty penny in the group stage.

Yet instead fans receive another wasted year against, with all due respect to FC Basel, a beatable opponent. I’m sure we all still remember the days when Lech was able to tackle the likes of Juventus and Manchester City in Europe. Five years ago never felt so far away after watching this new Lech squad play.

Kadar commits schoolboy mistakes. Holman gives the impression that he could do anything but play football. Tetteh better could handle himself better in judo than in football. Robak is a shadow of his former self as a striker, who two years ago was crowned the league’s top scorer. Dudka once could play and foul, today he only could do the latter. Thomalla is in such a form that head coach Maciej Skorza would rather count on playing the “has-been” Robak.

It is no wonder that the attitude of Lech this season has been a real drama.

“As a coach in any club I have not been in such a difficult situation. I’ve never had such a weak record after five games. (…) It was not until today that we learned of a new reality and no one assumed that it would be so painful to the eye,” said Skorza after losing 1:2 against newly promoted Zaglebie Lubin on Friday. About the misguided transfers he did not utter a word, but he already knows fully well that it’s very hard to bake bread with this flour.

Lech has to seriously revisit its transfer policy – and do it immediately.

Perhaps they need new people who will assess the fitness of individual players before being dealt to the Poznan club. Truth be told, it has been so blindingly obvious that in this area nothing is working well for them.

Unless there is change, Lech Poznan and Polish football alike will continue wasting away. Furthermore contributing to a history where the last Polish club to compete in the UEFA Champions League was 19 years ago. Enough should be enough.

Lech had a real chance after winning the Ekstraklasa championship to take a big step forward. A leap ahead of Legia Warsaw. It be enough for the “old Lech” to sign two or three players who would have been real reinforcements. Instead, the Kolejorz wasted its chance and digressed. Relied on an old system that no longer works and is now paying for it for both on and off the pitch.

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Pat Nowak

Pat Nowak is a sports reporter covering Polish football at all levels, from the Ekstraklasa to the National Team. In addition to his work on PSN, Pat has previously written for and CTV Olympics.

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