Legia Warszawa a springboard for coaches? Runjaić gives another example

Legia Warszawa a springboard for coaches?  Runjaić gives another example

Former Legia Warszawa coach Kosta Runjaić took over at Udinese in Italy. The decision sparks discussions on Polish training thought. How the German’s foreign predecessors coped.

Polish fans may feel a bit surprised by the fate of Kosta Runjaić. The coach, who was dismissed by Legia Warszawa at the beginning of April 2024, found employment after a few months of break. While the fact itself does not surprise anyone, the name of the new employer evokes admiration or disbelief.

Kosta Runjaić surprised Polish fans

The German went straight from PKO Ekstraklasa to Serie A. He was tasked with managing Udinese, a club that finished the last season of competition on the Apennine Peninsula in fifteenth place. It is generally accepted that it is difficult to break out of the Polish league, which can be seen in the example (or rather lack thereof) of native coaches working abroad. Runjaić did not have phenomenal results with Legia, although it must be emphasized that he did well in the Europa Conference League. Were the coach’s achievements in Poland or perhaps his nationality and good advertising behind the Italians’ interest? This is not known.

We decided to check how other foreign coaches coped after their adventure with Legia. We limited ourselves to the last 10 years. The list included Henning Berg, Stanisław Czerczesow, Besnik Hasi, Romeo Jozak, Dean Klafurić, Ricardo Sa Pinto and Aleksandar Vuković.

Norwegian from Manchester United

Henning Berg had an extensive football CV behind him. The Norwegian was part of the champions Blackburn Rovers and later also played for Manchester United. He worked briefly as a coach in the first club mentioned above in 2012, and then joined Legia. The Warsaw club was doing relatively well at that time. It was during this coach’s term of office that the Military team played the famous two-legged match against Celtic Glasgow that ended in a walkover.

After being released from Warsaw, Berg found employment in Hungary. Later he went to Cyprus, where he won the Cypriot championship with Omonia. He currently works at AIK in Sweden.

Champions League and then dismissal

Stanisław Cherchesov was described as a coach with a firm hand. Under his leadership, Legia won the league double, but that was the end of the Russian’s work in Poland. He took over his national team, where he also played as a goalkeeper in the past. He said goodbye to “Sborna” after Euro 2020. Today, after his adventure in Hungary, he is working with the national team again, but this time with Kazakhstan.

The Russian was replaced by an Albanian. Besnik Hasi knew Michał Żewłakow from their Belgian times. He was the one who took Legia into the Champions League, although it must be admitted that he was very lucky with the draw. Years ago, when Polish clubs were eliminated by Real or Shakhtar Donetsk, the Warsaw team faced Irish Dundalk in a two-legged match for promotion to the elite.

Hasi did not stay at Łazienkowska for long. He was released after 108 days. After Legia, he unexpectedly found himself in Greece, where he took over Olympiakos. There, he led the team in only 11 games. Then he worked in the Middle East and currently runs the Belgian KV Mechelen.

Two Croats did not save Legia

In 2017, Romeo Jozak became Legia’s coach. The Croatian had extensive experience with Dinamo Zagreb, but he worked there not as a coach, but as a sports director. When he took over the team after the start of the season, he did not see it through to the end. He was released and he chose the Middle Eastern direction. He worked with the Kuwaiti national team, but did not achieve great success. Currently working in Saudi Arabia as a talent development coordinator.

Jozak’s assistant in Legia was Dean Klafurić. Rodak took over the role of first coach after him, but he also failed. Like Hasi, he worked for 108 days and then had to look for another job. The Croatian was in the national team of Hrv Dragovoljac, and then in Greece and Hungary. Currently he is working again in his homeland (Velez Mostar).

The passionate Portuguese still finds takers

Ricardo Sa Pinto was probably the craziest of the characters presented here. Like Berg, he had great achievements as a player, but as a coach he was known for his hot-headed nature. Before Legia, he worked in many European clubs. Immediately before Poland, he worked in Standard Liege. The Portuguese did not last the entire season on the coaching bench. He left in mixed atmosphere.

Interestingly, in the following years he continued to join good clubs. He worked in Braga, Vasco da Gama and Gaziantepspor. Most recently he worked at Apollo Nicosia.

The Polish Serb still enjoys a reputation

Aleksandar Vukovic can almost be treated as a Polish coach. The Serb spent many years of his career in Poland, and also settled on the Vistula River, taking citizenship. He was Legia’s temporary coach twice before getting the chance to work permanently. His stay as head coach was divided into two terms. He made it to the end of one of the Warsaw team’s worst seasons, ending with tenth place. After Legia, however, he quickly found employment at Piast Gliwice, where he still works today.

Legia coaches are in demand

Foreign coaches working in Legia can land on all fours like a cat. The question remains why they didn’t quite succeed in the capital club and why other Polish coaches cannot find employment outside Poland as easily as they did.

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