That was some tumultuous time the last couple of weeks for the Polish national team. The best goalie, and one of the best in the world, Artur Boruc fought publicly with the national coach, Franciszek Smuda, over his inappropriate behavior (screaming and drinking a few glasses of wine. He was joined by Poland's captain, Michal Zewlakow, who just set national team record with 101 caps) on the way back from last month games against USA and Ecuador. Ugly.
On the one hand, our coach is right. Players called to national team represent the entire country and should behave properly. That is, should be at least, obvious. Unfortunately, it is not for many of them. The problem of alcohol in Polish team is real and last September proves it (two players were kicked out of the team after heavy drinking following the game against Ukraine). Naturally, when you win, it doesn't matter and no one (media, coaches) would not even touch the "problem". But the last win Poland had against Bulgaria (2-0) last March. Go figure. In the old, good, days (1970s and 80s) it was a normal practice (some former players say today) to have a shot or two before a game (yes, before). (Some said to play better after a couple of drinks. Nice!). But in those days we had truly talented players on and off the field. They could handle it. Today's players clearly cannot.
On the other hand, drinking and getting drunk are two different things. Wine is even recommended with certain meals. It is widely known that Boruc was never Smuda's favorite player but Zewlakow played in almost all matches under Smuda. To make a long story short, according to Smuda, Boruc's behavior was a bad example to other (especially younger) players and not worthy of a national player. So was Zewlakow's (with several key mistakes in the last few games and his advanced soccer age (34) the ex-captain likely said good-bye in a very poor way). The wine incident seems to be an excuse to get rid of them. Boruc even declared to be ready for World Cup 2014 campaign, guessing/wishing Smuda won't be the coach by then anymore. Time will tell.
I do like Boruc and undoubtedly he is Poland's #1 goalie but it is not about personal relationships when it comes to national team. I like him because he is the best. Smuda should take this under considereation. However, the good thing is that Fabianski and Szczesny are not too far behind. Let's hope they will be ready by 2012.
Now onto the real problem. It is unthinkable that many Polish players treat national time as a party time, a vacation from everyday club work. Unfortunately, they do not work as hard as professional players in the western Europe otherwise, with our natural talents, Poland would be in the top ten in soccer ranking. No, they are simply lazy! Playing three games a week is a standard in the west. In Poland, two games a week already provides a problem. This must change.
With all that mess aside, let's talk for a second about the upcoming game. This Wednesday, November 17 in Poznan, Poland is set to play Ivory Coast - a team that should have reached at least semis of the last World Cup. Drogba, Kalou, Toure brothers, Eboue - world class players! However, they did not play as a team, unlike Ghana, but rather as selfish individuals. A great opportunity was lost. That's their problem, though. Poland has its own but I can bet that our coaching staff would welcome Ivory Coast problems for a change. Oh, who wins? Polska! 6-2! Why not?! Led by Jakub Blaszczykowski, Poland's biggest star and new captain, it can be done. GO POLISH EAGLES!
Lastly, an important note, I agree completely with Smuda on another OBVIOUS TO ME matter. When Radoslaw Majewski (a talented and ambitious midfielder) complained publicly to play only 18 minutes against Ecuador last month, for which he already apologized Smuda, our coach replied: "knowing I would play only one minute for Poland I would bike to Canada!"
Against San Marino or Brazil, for one minute or 90, playing for my beloved Poland would be the greatest honor. Something that I will likely never experience.