May 28 2011

Corgon Liga 2010/11 Round-Up

Published by at 9:50 am under Domestic and tagged:

It’s been an eventful spring in the Corgoň Liga with one major winner and two significant losers. Of the other sides, some have seen their positions improve very slightly, while others have taken a backward step or two. The summer break is a short one in Slovakia so we ought to review the accounts from this campaign before pre-season and then 2011-2012 are upon us.

Obviously, Slovan Bratislava, the newly-crowned champions, are the spring’s achievers. In comfortably overturning a 12-point deficit to win the title, they have shown both skill and single-mindedness. The roots of their phenomenal run can be traced back to their winter preparations when coach Karel Jarolím established a relationship with his players and instilled his footballing philosophy in them. The emergence of young centre-back Kristian Kolčák ensured that neither the departed Kornel Saláta nor the initially injured Radek Dosoudil were missed too much. There was creativity in midfield and Filip Šebo provided goals, goals and more goals in attack. Now Slovan will hope to keep their key men ahead of both a title defence and an assault on the Champions League qualifiers.

While Slovan sustained their form over the entire spring, 2011’s first revelation was actually Senica. They added goals to the defensive solidity they had established last autumn and their form in February and March was such that three of their players were selected by Vladimir Weiss for Slovakia’s games against Andorra and Denmark. Dropped points at home to relegation strugglers Dubnica and Košice undermined Senica’s title challenge and defeat by Slovan in early May effectively ended it but they can still be proud of their efforts.

The year’s big losers at the top end of the table have been Žilina, who have spent the spring looking more like a relegation-threatened side than title contenders. In stark contrast to Slovan‘s, their winter preparations, at least when viewed with hindsight, were both triumphalist and chaotic. Key players left and were not adequately replaced, the new signings spending too much time out injured and/or performing inconsistently. Coach Pavel Hapal appears to be keeping his job for now but he will need to change a few things before 2011/2012 gets underway.

Other clubs have had good, bad or indifferent springs but Trnava’s has been perhaps the most bizarre. Their fans started boycotting matches following the sacking of coach Dušan Radolský, meaning that a succession of home wins under Peter Zelenský were achieved in front of crowds of barely 1,000. Away form was always a problem but Zelenský has a right to feel that, considering the hostility aimed at him, he has done a reasonable job in guiding the club to a fourth-placed finish and a European place.

Banská Bystrica will be a little disappointed with themselves, having dropped from fourth at the end of last autumn to a final position of fifth. They play attractive football and appear to have decent foundations at the club but will hope for more consistency come next season. Zlaté Moravce, one place below in sixth, have had a fine campaign for a newly-promoted side, especially considering that they have the smallest squad in the league and that Peter Kuračka and Milan Pavlovič, two of their best players, have spent extended periods on the treatment table.

Ružomberok, largely thanks to the reappointment of Ladislav Jurkemík as coach, went on a run of 17 points from their last ten games to hoist themselves to a safe mid-table position. Nitra too made a coaching change, firing Ivan Vrabec after three heavy defeats at the start of the spring and bringing in Cyril Stachura. As with Ružomberok, more than enough points were gained to ensure that relegation worries were banished well before the season ended.

DAC Dunajská Streda were in alarming free-fall until just a few weeks ago. However, two successive wins, the second in a crucial game at Dubnica, steered them clear of the relegation battle. The question now is whether Roman Pivarník will take over as head coach having initially been brought in to work in tandem with Mikulaš Radványi.

The eastern duo of Prešov and Košice cannot be proud of their campaigns but will be relieved to have survived. It might have suited Košice to play their final match of the season against a spiritless Žilina side. Victory in that game even lifted them above their neighbours who at times, notably when conceding last-minute goals, seemed to want to prolong their own agony. In rounding off their season by sharing six goals with Nitra, Prešov showed both why they struggled in 2010/2011 and why they might just do rather better next time round.

It all means that two wins in their last three games were too little too late to save Dubnica. There will be disappointment at the club that increased investment over the winter and a skillful brand of football on the pitch did not bring more points at an earlier stage. Thoughts should be spared too for Jan Trousil and Tomáš Polách, loan-signings from Brno who saw both the clubs they played for in 2010/2011 suffer relegation. Still, putting things in an appropriate perspective is Dubnica coach Peter Gergely. ‘Relegation isn’t a tragedy,’ said Gergely. ‘I experienced tragedy here in 2004 when our young player Martin Doktor died suddenly.’

To end on a more upbeat note, it appears that I Liga champions AS Trenčín will be allowed to use their home ground next season after all. Their general manager says in an interview in Friday’s Šport that the club now has sufficient funding to install CCTV cameras, upgrade its artificial pitch and make other necessary ground improvements. On the pitch, it’s possible to imagine Trenčín doing as well as Zlaté Moravce have done this season and establishing themselves firmly at the top level. Meanwhile, as a fan, you can do a lot worse than enjoy a football day out in the shadow of Trenčín’s magnificent castle.

James Baxter

One response so far

One Response to “Corgon Liga 2010/11 Round-Up”

  1.   britskibelasion 28 May 2011 at 12:38 pm

    Nice one James. What odds on AS Trencin for the title next season?!

    20-June we will find out the European destiny for the above-mentioned clubs, really looking forward to those draws.

    MSK Zilina v ADO Den Haag perhaps?

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