Though Legia Warszawa sits comfortably atop the table in Poland’s T-Mobile Ekstraklasa league, the team’s management has decided it needs to develop under different leadership.
Couertesy of Legia.com/M.Kostrzewa
Current coach Jan Urban won the championship last season and was well on his way toward repeating that success this year. But what he did in the Polish league he was unable to repeat in European competitions. Legia put up miserable performances in the Champions League and Europa League, prompting the management’s decision to replace him. The official reason for Mr Urban’s release is “a different opinion on the club’s future” than the management’s.
His successor is a surprise, as Legia went abroad and hired a Norwegian, Henning Berg. Mr Berg, a former defender at Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United, was a legend on the field, becoming the first Norwegian in history to win a Premiership title (in 1995 with Blackburn, also winning the league twice with Manchester United as well as the Champions League), but his coaching career has so far been lackluster.
He spent the first six years on the bench in his native Norway, managing Lyn Oslo and Lillestrom respectively. Despite never winning any trophy there, he got his chance in England, where in 2012 he coached his former club Blackburn Rovers. His stint was short-lived, as he ran the team for just 10 games, winning only one. He was released from the club in December last year and has been unemployed since.
The question remains as to whether he will be able to improve Legia in a way that will help them achieve some success in inter-European play.
The club’s owners seem to be betting that winning the Polish league will come easy, but that is unlikely. The Warsaw side is only five points ahead of second-place Górnik Zabrze, and it bears noting that after the initial 30 games, points for wins will be slashed in half for the final seven games of the season. A bad run during that stretch could erase even the most impressive of leads.
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