Daniel Holzer – The Jedenact 2015

Position: Left-back/left-wing
Club: Banik Ostrava
D.O.B: 18.08.1995

2014

Let’s ignore the first six months of the year when he was in and out of Banik’s squad and instead concentrate on those last six months when he was absolutely outstanding.

A mesmerising if slightly erratic winger, Holzer had long been viewed as one of the most promising talents in the Czech Republic but it was under the guidance of then Banik Ostrava coach Martin Svedik that he truly began to shine. Gradually converted into a fullback, he began to dominate opposing wingers and put in disciplined performance after disciplined performance on the left side of Banik’s ridiculously talented (and young) back four.

Crucially, though, he was not afraid of attacking when the situation presented itself. Banik were by no means an offensive force, but when he was given the chance to push on into the final third he did so in devastating fashion. When named on the left wing, he duly tore Hradec Kralove to shreds.

And then there were the rumours: Sparta Prague, Viktoria Plzen, Legia Warsaw and Lech Poznan (to name a few) were, apparently, keeping tabs.

2015 was supposed to be the year of Daniel Holzer.

2015

2015 has been nothing short of dreadful.

The year started with the Banik hierarchy throwing Martin Svedik out on his ear and sanctioning the sales of Patrizio Stronati, Jan Gregus and Jan Baranek. Unsurprisingly, the rot immediately set in.

Petr Frnka was an unpopular choice to replace Svedik and the former Taborsko coach quickly lost the support of the fans and the dressing room within weeks of his appointment, the result of poor results and scattergun approach to team selection that verged on corporal punishment.

With the club’s finances in the red (despite the sales), the fans openly protesting against the chairman, board, manager and players, Banik inevitably sunk like a stone. They could only muster eleven points in fourteen league games and from sitting fifth at the turn of the year; they ended the season in a lowly fourteenth,

With the club’s finances still in the red (despite the sales), the fans openly protesting against the chairman, the board and the manager, Banik sunk like a stone. Just eleven points were picked up in fourteen league games and from fifth at the turn of the year, the Silesian club ended the season in fourteenth.

Frnka departed over the summer, yet everybody else remained. With the club under lockdown thanks to a transfer embargo, nobody could make a move. Add in questions about wages, a deeply unpopular move across the city and rioting fans, and the rot soon turned to resentment.

Radomir Korytar became the third Banik coach in the calendar year when he replaced Frnka. A former youth team coach at the club, Korytar was wonderfully pragmatic: he publically accepted as the only outcome within weeks of taking on the job. He knew it, the players knew it, the media knew it, and deep down the fans knew it too. At least he confronted the elephant in the room head-on.

As things stand, Banik are rock bottom of the Synot Liga with just one win in sixteen games. They have the worst defence and the worst attack in the league, and are currently on course to be the worst team ever to play in the Czech top flight.

To compound matters, Jiskra Rymarov, a small-town outfit of the semi-professional fourth tier, eliminated Banik from the MOL Cup. That defeat saw a score of fans storm the pitch to strip the players of their kit.

Simply put, Banik Ostrava are the footballing equivalent to the drizzling shits.

And so, finally, onto Daniel Holzer.

With supporters either boycotting or fighting, Holzer, who was Banik’s golden child, remains, has remained shackled to a club that cannot let him go.

From being an ever-present member of the first-team squad in the latter half of 2014, Holzer completed just two games in the first part of 2015 as he quickly fell afoul of Frnka’s chop and change philosophy. At a time when he needed to be looked after (or, preferably, sold), he was repeatedly bludgeoned with a stick.

On my sole trip to Ostrava this season I watched the winger-come-full-back closely. He looked short on confidence and thanks to Slovacko’s dominance, he was completely ostracised from the game. Crucially, though, he was not the worst player on the pitch and at least attempted to get in behind the Slovacko defence from his position on the wing. Frnka, in his infinite wisdom, was of a different opinion and sacrificed Holzer for no real reason.

Summer came, but by this point, Holzer was damaged goods. He had regressed massively in his development. If Safarcik was hoping that he could get a higher fee in the summer than in the winter due to his excellent start to the reason, then that was a gamble that had failed spectacularly.

Playing time has increased with Korytar at the helm, but his performances have not. There is still the occasional flash that reminds us why just twelve months ago Holzer was the most exciting prospect in the Synot Liga, but he has been a shadow of the talent that promised so much. And that is the problem: the good parts are just memories.

2016

Daniel, please run away and never look back.

  • Posted by Chris Boothroyd
  • On 9th January 2016
Tags: Baník Ostrava, Jedenáct 2015

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