Michniewicz job on the line despite hitting World Cup targets

(Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC/AFP via Getty Images)

The PZPN (Polish Football Association) issued a statement on Monday afternoon, stating that a meeting had earlier been held between President Cezary Kulesza and the head coach of the Polish national team Czesław Michniewicz. The association confirmed that it had opted not to use the contractual clause in place to extend the coach’s contract further.

Despite taking Poland to the second round of the World Cup for the first time in 36 years, Michniewicz had come in for a large amount of criticism from Polish fans and journalists angry at the team’s group-stage performances. It now seems that the PZPN President Kulesza may be having similar thoughts.

“The Polish Football Association did not use the contractual clause that allowed for the unilateral extension of the coach’s contract”, the statement on the PZPN’s website reads. However, it does go on to state that “the issue of further cooperation between the federation and Czesław Michniewicz is the subject of talks between the parties.”

52-year-old Michniewicz currently has a contract valid until 31 December 2022, and any possible renewal was dependent on Poland’s advance beyond the group stage. In the statement, the PZPN goes on to state that “the decision on a possible extension of the contract with the coach will be made in the coming days.” However, a row over bonuses to be issued by the Polish government has overshadowed the Biało-Czerwoni‘s tournament, and rumours of a bust-up with key players in the Polish team have been rife on social media.

According to some reports, the subject of bonuses was brought up following the team’s progression from Group C, after the 2-0 defeat to Argentina; with key players such as Robert Lewandowski and Grzegorz Krychowiak reportedly “embarrassed” by the timing. An anonymous tip-off from someone within the national team staff, to Onet.pl, even stated that such bonuses were agreed behind the back of the PZPN, directly between Michniewicz and Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. All indications point to the players having not known about this until during the tournament, whilst the offer – which would have come from the public purse – has since been withdrawn.

“If there was the topic of a bonus from the Prime Minister for the team, the PZPN authorities knew nothing about it”, stated Kulesza when asked by the media, signalling that he and the rest of the association’s board likely consider the actions as a form of disloyalty.

In recent days, Michniewicz has also come under fire for his decision to block a large number of journalists on social media – particularly those who have been critical of him during his tenure as Selekcjoner. Even a spot in the last sixteen of the tournament did little to assuage the frustrations.

Meanwhile, some reports in the Polish press indicate that the PZPN are already lining up a replacement for Michniewicz. According to several outlets, Andrij Shevchenko is in the running for the job, having initially been linked after Paulo Sousa’s resignation at the start of 2022; while former Lech Poznań coach Maciej Skorża – who is about to start work at Japanese side Urawa Red Diamonds – may have also been contacted about the potential vacancy.

Poland’s national team begin their Euro 2024 Qualifying campaign in late March, with a trip to face the Czech Republic.

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