Time for another fantastic writer to make his gibfootballshow début. Michał Zachodny is the mastermind behind the superb website Polish Football Scout he discusses the possibility of a conspiracy against Polish footballers, in particular Ludovick Obraniak.
If there is something Polish football fans are getting used to it is constant failure of the national team. There are plenty of Polish players scattered around the top leagues, could the problem then be the amount of time they spend on the pitch.
The story is always the same – promising footballer in the Polish league gets a huge contract in Germany, France, Greece, Russia or any country higher up the ladder, he gets a few starts then fades away. He then ends up in the reserves and within a year is back where he came from. Usually we hear about unfriendly atmosphere, lack of faith from the manager, not enough chances given to the Pole – same excuses every time.
Do the above excuses apply when a player comes up against the same on-field issues only after bowing to media and fan campaigns and taking on Polish Citizenship? If so then Ludovic Obraniak of Lille can give at least a few arguments for those looking for an anti-Polish conspiracy in modern football world.
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves – gaining Polish citizenship should work only in favor of the player and his current club, no matter how bad you think international football is. Ludovic Obraniak is not short of a talent; undoubtedly he has the quality to play week in week out in a top Ligue 1 side. That was the main reason when Poland came for him – along with his Polish gender, of course.
It was the summer of 2009 when he made his debut under the white and red flag. Scoring twice against Greece, he was one of the brightest wingers in France, cementing his place in Lille’s first eleven and making twenty-seven starts and scoring nine goals during 2008/2009. The rest of the 2009 was went well as he established himself in Polish squad and, despite injury, was an important part of Lille’s squad.
It was the winter of 2009/2010 when things started to change – Polish press reported there was problems with contract negotiations, Clubs were willing to sign the flashy winger with Auxerre targeting Obraniak, hoping to increase their Polish contingent. The transfer never went through the contract talks stalled, doubts remain over his future. He began to find his place increasingly on the bench.
To the media he spoke about not only his desire to change team but even the possibility of moving leagues. Ludo’s agent promised to find him a team in the Premier League; however no move would be possible until the summer.
His problems in Lille followed him for the Poland friendly against Bulgaria in March 2010, when he was given starting place but was replaced after the first half after a very, very average performance. With his head clearly somewhere else, he looked a shadow of the player that had impressed at the start of his international career for the country of his grandparents.
The summer came and the blessing was close – again reports told fans about a very possible move to Auxerre where he would join Jeleń and Dudka. Even then he said that there was no desire from Lille to convince him to stay, while clubs from Portugal and Germany are interested but no one made a concrete offer. Only days after the Auxerre rumours the impossible happened – Obraniak signed a contract extension with Lille, an improvement on his current deal, extending his stay in Ligue 1 to 2012.
This would be the end of his problems, surely? Despite a small back problem he said that he was training well and looking forward for new season to start. But when the first game came around, he couldn’t find his name in starting line-up. This continued for the first half of French season. He was only getting very little time on the pitch, usually when the game was over and Lille needed to kills some time.
The only competition where he could express himself was Europe League – playing every group game, scoring once as he helped his team to progress to next phase. The questions remain, why did he lose his place?
Surely his form was not the issue, as Polish fans probably thought and in truth, we had evidences of his best form as he scored against Ecuador and Ivory Coast – especially his second was a beauty – a curling, long-range free-kick that ended in the top corner. Franciszek Smuda, Polish National Team manager, had no reason to complain about Obraniak, his club situation remained an issue – especially as it was said that only those constantly playing in their clubs will be called for EURO 2012.
Obraniak’s romance with Lille is over, although there is no sign of him leaving his current club this winter. I’m not willing to believe there is an anti-Polish conspiracy but the clubs behavior is really strange – refusing to sell the player, extending his contract, improving his wage only to have him as second, third substitute? If there is a conflict with manager or the board then surely only a move can solve this situation, one would have thought.
I’m more than sure that there are still clubs willing to sign him but the ball is on Lille’s court – in many cases with Polish players struggling abroad it was down to their laziness, lack of quality and unprofessional behavior. But are we hearing anything bad about Obraniak? Is he missing training sessions, drinking heavily, partying? The longer it stays that way, the more all parties involved will lose. Lille’s situation is not my concern, but it would be awful for Poland to lose a player that finally knows how to send a proper corner, never mind the free-kicks…