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From Championship to Relegation: Legia Warszawa

(Getty Images)

In recent years, Legia Warszawa have been one of the most dominant Polish sides coming out of the Ekstraklasa. A league that doesn’t rival the likes of the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, and Serie A, the Ekstraklasa still challenges European competition with their dominant teams of Legia Warszawa and Lech Poznan as the main two.

The championship winners of the 2020/21 season, Legia Warszawa have maintained their winning streak in the Polish league, winning the title 7 times in the last 9 years. Having a record of 19 wins, 7 draws and only 4 losses with 48 goals scored and only 24 goals conceded. In comparison to their other winning seasons, with 64 points it was their 2nd best season with only 5 points less than their 2019/20 campaign with 69.

In this past summer, they also were pretty active with their arrivals and transfers, some stars such as left-winger Lirim Kastrati from Dinamo Zagreb for 1.3 million Euros, defensive midfielder Igor Kharatin from Ferencvaros for 900,000 Euros as well as left-back Yuri Ribeiro from Nottingham Forest on a free transfer to beef up their squad.

As for their departures, star right back Josip Juranovic moved to Celtic for 3 million Euros and one of their prolific attackers and Polish international Pawel Wszolek left on a free transfer to the Bundesliga with Union Berlin. Not exactly leaving huge gaps in their squad but still retaining much of their championship-winning side of last season.

So that being said, with many new additions coming into their side and pretty much retaining the same starting 11 that they have had so much success in the previous campaign, what has happened to leave them in the worst spot in the club’s history? Let’s break it down to the core factor.

Managerial Issues

Appointed on the 21st of September 2020, Czesław Michniewicz had been a good appointment for the Polish champions. Throughout their 2020/21 campaign, Michniewicz managed to keep Legia’s winning spirit alive. Michniewicz clearly had a successful record with Legia, having won 29 games, drawing 10 and losing 12 in the 51 games in all competitions.

Unfortunately, this season’s campaign had not started with the expectations that Legia’s executives have strived for. From the first season’s matchday till Michniewicz’s sacking, Legia had won 3 times and lost 7 which evidently led to the big decision on October 25th, a day after their 4-1 loss to Piast Gliwice.

Since then, newly appointed Marek Golebiewski had come in charge and lost 5 of the possible 6 games in the Ekstraklasa and losing ways have consistently continued. After their latest match on the 12th of December, against Wisla Plock which they lost 1-0, shocking news arose where Golebiewski had apparently resigned from his position behind closed doors.

While all the drama settled and fans were absolutely furious, Legia announced on the 13th of December that Aleksander Vukovic had taken over after the club was publicly silent on the affair with Golebiewski.

(Polsat Sport)

With a lack of consistency in the manager position and already on their third manager this season, many point to the dressing room as a root cause for their problems, without any leadership the players seem to be running in all sorts of directions. Vukovic has actually had a pretty significant history with Legia as he is an ex player of there’s but also was their manager from April 2nd, 2019 to September 21st, 2020, before Michniewicz got appointed, returning back for another spell.

This horrific start to the season has Legia currently sitting at 4 wins and a staggering 12 losses, scoring only 15 goals in the 16 games they’ve played and conceding 27. One of the strangest and worst runs of form from a championship winning side, Legia have looked like the relegation sides they once used to easily win against before.

It’s clear that Legia’s issues are far greater than their manager but appointing Vukovic again may not be a good direction for the club, already being sacked once, who knows what will happen with this nightmare of a season.

Going Forward

Many fans have directed the issues to Legia’s packed schedule with their qualification games for the Champions League and then their group stage games in the Europa League. After failing to qualify for the UCL and dropping into the Europa League, they faced opponents Leicester City, Spartak Moscow, and Napoli. They got off to a good start by beating both Leicester and Moscow, but lost the rest of their matches to finish bottom of the group.

The club also has many good quality players that have proved that they are able to perform, the likes of Thomas Pekhart who netted 22 goals last season claiming the top scorer spot in the Ekstraklasa and Luquinhas who was the playmaker for Legia last season scoring 4 and assisting 8 in all competitions.

(Polsat Sport)

A relatively young squad as well, age is not an issue that seems to be pulling the team back either, youngsters such as the Euro 2016 star Bartosz Kaputska (although injured at the moment), new young German centre back Maik Nawrocki and Polish midfield talent Bartosz Slicz, a lot can happen with what they have at their disposal.

(Onet Sport)

14 games are left to go for Legia, halfway through the season already and it is not looking good in any regard. Semi-new management could bring life to this squad who are in need of motivation, form and practically a miracle if they want to turn their season around. A champion in dire need of support, Legia continues their season today against 8th place Zagłębie Lubin where they hope for a new start under Vukovic.


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