Ekstraklasa relegation-battlers Górnik Zabrze announced a surprise return on Saturday afternoon, as Jan Urban was confirmed as the club’s new coach to replace the outgoing Bartosch Gaul.
35-year-old Gaul’s position at Górnik has been heavily rumoured to have been under threat in recent weeks after a string of poor results left the 14-time champions occupying a spot in the Ekstraklasa’s relegation zone. Unofficial reports stated that the club had made a move for Polish-born Swedish coach Bartosz Grzelak, following his dismissal from AIK Solna; however, his appointment at Hungarian club MOL Fehérvár ended that speculation.
Following that setback, Górnik made the unusual decision to issue a statement declaring that the position of Gaul would be reevaluated depending on the result of Friday evening’s league match at home to Wisła Płock.
After coming from a 2-0 half-time deficit, to win 3-2, it seemed as though the Polish-born German coach’s position was safe for the time being. But within 24 hours, the club had announced Gaul’s departure, and perhaps a surprising name to replace him.
“We would like to thank Coach Bartosch for the time spent in Zabrze. We wish him, as a club, good luck in his further coaching career. We will observe the development of the young trainer. We would like to thank him for his work with the team and for the sporting emotions provided.”Adam Matysek, President of the Management Board of Górnik Zabrze
In the very same statement as announcing the departure of Gaul, Górnik also confirmed the return to the club of 60-year-old former coach Jan Urban.
Urban’s return to the club where he played 135 games is a surprise, given that it was he who was sacked to make way for Gaul prior to the start of the current season. The former midfielder had led Górnik to 8th position in the Ekstraklasa during the 2021/22 season, and was dismissed after an alleged dispute with the club’s former president, Arkadiusz Szymanek.
Szymanek himself was replaced in February of this year, while further changes have been made behind-the-scenes of the club – paving the way for Urban’s shock return.
“Górnik is my home, my heart is always three-colored and whenever I can help the club I am available. Hard work awaits us but faith in good results is not only a word but also a conviction. The team has potential and we will use it to win.”Jan Urban, Górnik Zabrze coach
Górnik’s win on Friday evening pulled the club out of the relegation zone, two points clear of Korona Kielce. Urban will take charge of the team immediately, and will lead the team into Friday’s important Upper Silesian derby against relegation rivals Piast Gliwice.