I don’t think it’ll surprise any of you to learn that I’m immensely pleased to be leaving Poland. It’s been a real slog of a season, especially since Christmas, but in the end I did my job. I did what I set out to do. Let’s have a look back on year 3.
Final Position: 14th
Record: W9 D10 L19
Key Player(s): Sebastien Nowak, Jean “Olivier” Sumo Kingue, Bartlomiej “Bart” Kalinkowski, Grzegorz Goncerz
Highlight: Our 4-0 win away at Cracovia in August
Lowlight: Our record breaking runs of losses and games without a win
I realise that I’ve been incredibly negative about GieKSa, especially in the last few months when things weren’t going very well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m incredibly happy that I was given the opportunity to move to the Polish top tier as it was a big step up for me. And I’ve showed the World that I can (Just barely by the skin of my teeth) do a job at this level.
Lech Poznań’s Hadi Sacko won the Lotto Ekstraklasa Player of the Year award. I was a bit surprised to see that he’d clinched it as from what I saw there were plenty of players in the league that looked better, but he had a pretty good year by the looks of it, racking up the most assists out of anyone in the league, so fair play to him.
The Katowice Football Post summed up my overall feelings about this season. “They will be delighted to have finished with their heads above water”, and yeah. Pretty much. I’m still disappointed though that we lost to Rozwój Katowice in the first round of the FA Cup though. At some point I’d love to have a proper cup run, but I suppose it would’ve only been a distraction this year.
Our player of the season and young player of the season took me a bit by surprise. The fans voted by quite a distance for Tom Scheffel, but I often found myself disappointed with him. I was tipped off by the coaches upon joining GieKSa that he was one of our best players, but in my opinion he was mainly fine and sometimes awful. Bart came in second, and Mario Gregurina, who could easily be overlooked as he wasn’t a nailed on starter for us, came in third. Those two I do agree with. Also, our best eleven for the season was quite predictable, with Nowak in net, Scheffel, Olivier, Wilson and Garbacik across the back, Bart and Hurley in the middle, and Janga, Fossy and Kevin behind Goncerz.
Our goal of the season was a very good choice. Grzegorz Goncerz’s effort in our December win over KGHM Zagłębie might be the best goal that any team’s scored under my stewardship. It was not only a fantastic strike, but a great team goal.
Olivier on a free was our signing of the season, and for good reason. He attracted a lot of interest and eventually got his move away thanks to stats like these:
- He made the joint second most key tackles (13) in the divison, behind Kornel Osyra.
- He made the second most key headers (115), just behind Pape Djibril Diaw.
- He made the most interceptions in the league (592) by a country mile.
Grzegorz Goncerz, although he received a fair bit of flack from me at times, was a decent enough striker for me. He was the joint fourth top scorer in the league with 13 in 32, and was obviously our top scorer too. Grzegorz also assisted more than any of our players. He only got 5 though, so I think that says more about the rest of the attacking players than it does about him. Finally, nobody won more Player of the Match awards for us than Grzegorz (4).
Overall, Bart had the highest average rating throughout the season, which is no less than you’d expect from the Bartbeat of the side. He had the best pass completion percentage out of everyone in my squad with 88%, and unfortunately but unsurprisingly, he got the most yellows (11) and reds (3) for us too. He also made the second most (4.00) tackles per game, coming in just behind Korona’s Vanja Markovic.
In other vaguely impressive statistical news, Hurley covered the seventh most distance per 90 minutes (8.85 miles), and Kevin made the joint seventh most key passes (25) in the league.
And finally, Olivier and Kevin were inducted onto the GKS Katowice Best Eleven sub’s bench. Good job lads.
I think the reason that I’ve not fallen in love with GieKSa in the same way that I did with SC Angrense is that with Angrense, we made a tweak here, a good signing there, and it all just slotted into place. I was spoilt. We had a bloody unbeaten season! With GieKSa, I feel like I tried everything in that second half of the season and nothing worked. Every crushing defeat was another punch in the face. I was powerless. It was incredibly frustrating.
I wish them all the best and I sincerely hope they can stay up again next season and establish themselves as a Lotto Ekstraklasa club, but I had to get out. Incidentally, so did Bart. He left just 5 days after I did, joining Russian Premier Division rookies SKA Khabarovsk for £275k.
I’m absolutely delighted to see that SC Angrense have had a very successful season. They were one of the clubs tipped to go back down to the Portuguese Championship, but finished 16 points clear of the drop zone in 9th place. The man that Os Heróis chose to replace me last Summer was Pedro Amora, who I had faced off against 4 times (Winning 3 times and drawing once, I might add) the previous season when he was in charge of Barreirense, and he’s done a fine job in the second tier.
Their squad is already pretty unrecognisable, with the frustratingly immovable Cristiano Magina, the heartbreakingly underused Benjamim, and O Capitão Jaime Seidi the only familiar faces on their roster. Lassina Touré was the vice captain until he was released this Summer.
Höllviken are difficult to find details on at this point, as they’re still in the 5th tier of Swedish football. Captain Wani Mukoko, Vice Captain Mattias Andersell, Lawrence and Stefan Bouvin are all still knocking about though.
So all in all, it’s been a year that I’ll be happy to leave behind, but one that I’ll hopefully learn from. Here’s to a better one at Santos FC in Cape Town, South Africa.
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