Feb 02 2012

Who Will Succeed Vladimir Weiss?

There had been speculation in The Slovakia media over Vladimír Weiss’s future long before his actual departure as coach of the country’s national team. Now that he has actually quit, attention has rapidly turned to potential successors, with three candidates getting the most prominent mentions.

The clear favourite is Pavel Vrba. I wrote at length about him in an article 15 months ago and there really isn’t much to add here, though he has only enhanced his credentials in the meantime, by winning a Czech league title and taking Viktoria Plzeň to this season’s Champions League group stages. He is currently at a training camp in Cyprus with his Viktoria squad and claims not to have received an offer from the SFZ, though he does admit that president Ján Kováčik is a ‘good friend’ of Plzeň owner Tomáš Paclík. Does that mean we can expect a signed contract and plenty of hearty back-slapping sometime in the coming weeks? Quite possibly, though the Czech media is still speculating that qualification for Euro 2012 might not be enough to save Michal Bílek’s job and that Vrba would be just the man to lead his own country’s national side rather than that of its eastern neighbours.

The next candidate, and the favourite of those who believe a Slovak should take the post, is Stanislav Griga. His claim certainly has plenty going for it. He was a fine player himself, representingCzechoslovakia 34 times and scoring 8 goals, and a three year spell (1999-2002) in charge of the Slovak Under-21 side will have given him some insight into the national set-up from a coaching point of view. His club coaching experience is rich and varied and he is a very astute tactician. Purists might have reservations about him, given the rather pragmatic style of play his current Senica team tend to employ, but he  shares with Weiss the capacity to get results with limited-looking teams.

While Vrba is Czech and Griga is Slovak, Jozef Chovanec, the third favourite, is both. He comes from a small village near Púchov, where he started his playing career, but is  a Czech citizen. He has had long spells as both player and coach with Sparta Prague, and was in charge of the Czech Republic’s national team from 1998-2001, a period which included qualification for Euro 2000. This level of experience, and the fact that he is currently out of work, are his main attractions. They are offset by a dour, aloof public persona and a sense that his best work may already be behind him.

If the state of the SFZ’s finances is so dire that a cheaper alternative has to be sought, there are younger coaches currently doing admirable work in the Corgoň Liga. Ľubomír Nosický, who has done well to overcame the chaos surrounding the start of Žilina’s current season is one, Juraj Jarábek, whose Vion Zlaté Moravce team has never stopped improving, is another. But neither of these men is at an advanced enough stage of his career to convince the wider footballing public that he would be able to successfully manage the higher profiles and bigger egos of national team players.

Recalling a previous coach for a second spell in charge is not much of an option either. Dušan Galis, who did lead Slovakia to a qualification play-off for the 2006 World Cup, is now a politician. His immediate predecessor, Ladislav Jurkemík, who failed to reach Euro 2004 and has just taken on the Nitra job, has made a speciality out of steering faltering club sides clear of the domestic relegation zone, but would seem to have little new to offer at international level.

The possibility that the SFZ will seriously consider a candidate from further afield than the Czech Republic seems so remote as to be barely worth discussing. Even if the association wasn’t determined to hire someone who ‘understands our mentality’, any half-decent foreign coach who happens to be available, would almost certainly be too expensive anyway. Other Czechs have been given fleeting mention, however, including František Komňacký – who won the 2006 Corgoň Liga title with Ružomberok – and Vítězslav Lavička, currently in charge of FC Sydney inAustralia.

The question of how finance will affect will affect the appointment of the next coach is clearly a crucial one. So too is the connected issue of what will happen to Weiss’s assistant Michal Hipp, given the likelihood that the new appointment may insist on bringing a right-hand man of his own. Even taking these matters into consideration, the media still seem convinced Vrba will get the job. Šport even airily dismisses the matter of the Czech Republic post, claiming that Slovakia ‘offers the greater potential’. For what it’s worth Vrba would be my choice, though I’d be almost as happy to see Griga given the opportunity.

James Baxter

14 responses so far

14 Responses to “Who Will Succeed Vladimir Weiss?”

  1.   Michalon 02 Feb 2012 at 9:01 pm

    Hey James, a very insightful summary. For me, Griga is the favourite. I can imagine the Slovak FA will want to appoint Weiss’ successor as soon as possible. Vrba can feel there is only one obstacle between him and the Czech national team dugout – the EURO group stage. If the Czechs fail there, Vrba is effectively the only choice to succeed Bílek and I can imagine the Czech FA negotiating with him beforehand just for sure. The president, Pelta, says he believes Bílek will stay through the tournament and into the WC qualification, but one would expect him to say that. He is too street-wise to let the only possible backup slip away. And as for Vrba himself, he would be tempted to accept the Czech job firstly for his ambition, secondly because he would get the chance to lead many of his current Plzeň subordinates on the international level. If anyone says there is better perspective in the Slovak team, he or she should take a look at the results of the Czech U-21 and U-19. These players will be ready soon…

  2.   Jameson 02 Feb 2012 at 10:13 pm

    Michal, thanks a lot for this – very interesting. From here, I’ll admit I don’t quite get the Czech aversion to Bilek. He couldn’t have done much more in this last campaign surely, not with Spain in the group. But he finished second and won his play-off with a squad no’one is suggesting is one of the country’s best ever.

    But yes, if there might be an opening there, I would also have thought Vrba would be more attracted by it than by the Slovak job. For one thing, friendly relations with the SFZ never seem to last long for anyone. And as you say, the appeal of working with some of those Plzen lads in the context of the CR team would be considerable.

    On the other hand, Slovakia would offer a reunion with four players from his Zilina team, and Ciso and Bakos would be straight in his squad too.

  3.   George Mon 02 Feb 2012 at 10:25 pm

    The rumour mill has it, that Mr Hipp has already been offered the post

    But a question of will he, won`t he ?

    BTW, I have it on good authority, that our Dano has a Police record?

  4.   George Mon 06 Feb 2012 at 9:29 am

    Well this is rather sad , three comments on this fine article . Even Dan has not come off the bench and had his opinion .

    Sorry James, sometimes you must wonder if all that hard work was worthwhile ?

  5.   britskibelasion 06 Feb 2012 at 11:42 am

    Because all any writer wants is an endless string of noise and bullsh*t from George M below his articles…

    I haven’t offered my opinion, partly because I’ve been extra busy, but also because I genuinely don’t have a clue. It’s clear the SFZ can’t just take their pick as money is limited and contracts going to be so heavily scrutinised.

    It’s unfortunate that Weiss’ successor can’t just be offered a similar deal to Weiss, especially as the same will be asked of him – take the team to World Cup 2014. The Weiss deal becoming public knowledge and being so generous obviously puts the SFZ in a difficult position right now.

    My guess, for what it’s worth then .. is Griga.

  6.   George Mon 06 Feb 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Dan old chap , Haven`t a clue ? Well there is an admission of guilt. Btw, how can you be `busy` just bobbin about in the North Sea ? Are you currently home having your bottom scraped of barnacles ?

    Back to on topic , I saw some Slovak U21 guy make his 4 minute debut for Dundee the weekend, as they hammed Rangers 0-2 …help us out here James his name is ……..starts with a L ??? Anyhows, he nearly got sent off for hammering into the Rangers goalkeeper …all a bit handbags .

  7.   britskibelasion 06 Feb 2012 at 5:35 pm

    That’ll be Milos Lacny, George – and he’s on loan at Dundee United, actually. He played for Slovan first half of the season. He was crap domestically, although he did score 2 decent goals agains Salzburg in the Europa League, so he has some potential I guess.

  8.   George Mon 07 Feb 2012 at 12:15 am

    I know who he ( Lacny) was Dan, I watched the game. I was just asking James if he knew …but then my shadow appears again .

    Dan I have to ask, are you in love with me or something ??? Don`t be coy now, every kid has a crush during puberty . For a guy, there isn’t just one event or sign that you’re growing up. There are lots of them, including your body growing bigger, your voice changing and hair sprouting everywhere. Most lads begin puberty between the ages of 9 and 14. But keep in mind that puberty starts when a boy’s body is ready, and everyone grows at his own pace even at your age of 30 .

    Sadly for you I am rather taken by sleeping with females, but I am sure you will get over my rejection and end up with some nice fag.

  9.   THE TRUTHon 07 Feb 2012 at 8:58 pm

    The only female action you have had since puberty are those stray dogs you abuse in the park, you pathetic, abusive, illiterate, dim-witted troll.

  10.   George Mon 07 Feb 2012 at 9:05 pm

    That`s not a nice thing(s) to say about Dan … This is HIS Blog you know ?

    Look I know I think Dan is a Cretin , but I will defend his right to the end to actually be one .

    BTW . Anyone like to discuss real football for a change ?

  11.   StaryJazvecon 13 Feb 2012 at 12:05 pm

    It’s all gone quiet over there. *points at this blog*

    Discussion point:

    What do the panel think about this?


    Police to use antikonfliktné tímy at risk matches who will be non-uniformed and will “zasahovať ako prvé s cieľom minimalizovať dôvody na použite sily. ”

    Členovia antikonfliktných tímov budú špeciálne vyškolení na boj s extrémizmom. Budú zdatní aj z psychológie, vyjednávačstva a parlamentarizmu.

    This system already used in Czech and Germany, apparently.

    Little hug and a calming word from a stranger if they see anyone getting excited with swastika tattoos, I guess.

  12.   StaryJazvecon 13 Feb 2012 at 12:09 pm

    Look forward to plod spotting at the next Trnava – D. Streda game, will they be more obvious than the head boy and the spotters, one wonders.

  13.   Jameson 13 Feb 2012 at 2:05 pm

    ‘Little hug and a calming word from a stranger if they see anyone getting excited with swastika tattoos, I guess.’

    Yes, this idea of ‘conflict defusion’ sounds a touch naive. Not sure how it would have worked with, say, the 300-odd Trnava fans who smashed up Za’s east stand a few years back. On the other hand, more undercover work in terms of gathering intelligence is surely an urgent necessity.

    I’m also uneasy with the mention of the ‘Gorilla’ protests in the article. I know Slovan and Trnava nutters are said to have been planning unrest at some of these, but still, the idea of people who are simply fed up with the thieving and corruption in the Sk government being infiltrated is a bit worrying.

  14.   StaryJazvecon 29 Feb 2012 at 3:33 pm

    Looks like we’re gonna get this Czech yoghurt then…

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