An excellent summer bodes for an excellent winter
Last season: 3rd
CZEFootball predicts: 3rd
Odds: 9/1 (Oddschecker)
Jasmin Scuk – The Bosnian perhaps should have been on the plane to Brazil, but Safet Susic, unaware of where the Czech Republic is, failed to consider the midfielder. Another year like last season and Scuk will not only command a large transfer fee, but he’ll also be in the squad.
One to watch
Michal Duris – Alongside from moving from Viktoria Plzen to Mlada Boleslav the Slovak will switch from being a widely-used but second choice option to being a key focal point of the attack. With the added responsibility Duris could light up the league this season.
When Karel Jarolim returned to Czech football after well-paid spells in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates he took over a Mlada Boleslav side that had been under-performing under Ladislav Minar. Fifth at Christmas might have been satisfactory if the likes of Slovan Liberec, Jablonec, Slavia Prague and Sigma Olomouc had been firing on all cylinders, but those sides were stuttering, and Minar had failed to take advantage; as such he paid a heavy price. Jarolim, who led Slavia to their pre-recession glory years, was called back to return to the Czech Republic.
One by one all the adjectives that have been associated with the Central Bohemian club were removed as Jarolim began to prioritise style over substance and by the end of the season the club were in third place – and celebrating a return to Europe. Now, it is up to the vastly experience manager to replicate Slovan Liberec’s success in Europe whilst conjunctively ensuring that the Skoda sponsored club remain in the Czech top three. With Jablonec’s spending spree, that could be tough.
Not many sides get the better of Viktoria Plzen: only Sparta Prague and Teplice defeated them on the pitch last season and they aren’t taken for fools in the transfer market, when selling, either. But with their business over the summer it could be said that Mlada Boleslav played the Doosan Arena club like fools.
During the summer of 2012 Jan Chramosta ruptured his cruciate knee ligaments and then spent the vast majority of that campaign on the treatment table, making just nine (predominantly substitute) appearances towards the tail end of the season. The injury came at the worst possible time; on the back of a ten goal haul in 2011-12, then then 21-year-old had just been appointed club captain and was being monitored by a whole host of clubs – his breakout year was curtail before it even begun. Since Jarolim’s tenure begun though, Chramosta was increasingly sidelined and only featured sporadically with the experienced coach opting for Pavel Sultes or Lukas Magera to lead the line. So when Plzen came in with an offer to sign the forward on loan, Jarolim accepted. In return he received Michal Duris and Tomas Wagner, also on initial temporary deals.
Duris and Wagner will undeniably transform Mlada Boleslav’s frontline: Duris, technically proficient and incredibly versatile, will be able to seamlessly fit in amongst the front four, while Wagner, the man who grabbed the last minute winner of Plzen against CSKA Moscow in the Champions League last season, is an old-fashioned number 9. Both are game changers and both have improved Mlada Boleslav’s attacking threat, even with the club losing Chramosta to Plzen and Martin Nespor – who also found playing time hard to come by under Jarolim – to Sparta.
But it isn’t just in attacking areas that Karel Jarolim has looked to improve his squad, he’s systematically reinforced and upgraded all areas, in doing so creating a more well-rounded squad that could form a sustained push towards the title with a bit of luck.
Importantly their player of the season last year Jasmin Scuk has remained on their books. The energetic defensive midfielder deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Lukas Vacha and Josef Husabuer when discussing the best central midfielders in the league. More worryingly though is the loss of David Jarolim whose absence leaves a gaping hole that the Bosnian will be expected to fill.
David, the son of Karel, will predominantly be remembered for being a mainstay in the Bundesliga, primarily with Hamburg whom he captained on numerous occasions. But in the past few years David has been quietly pulling the creative strings in the Boleslav midfield, yet injury has forced the 35-year-old to hang up his boots. As of yet, his father hasn’t moved to replace his vastly experienced son, who laid on twelve assists for his teammates last season. It’s obvious to say that he’ll be missed.
Another cause for concern is the spectre of precedent. Jarolim’s departure from Slavia Prague was not the cleanest of break-ups – he is often stated as a reason, but not a primary factor, for the Vrsovice club’s financial implosion – and Slovan Liberec’s league form between their Europa League adventures left a lot to be desired.
The balancing act that Mlada Bolelsav will attempt to pull off has caught many out, but you suspect that the wily Jarolim will be able to pull it off.
In: Tomas Wagner and Michal Duris (both Viktoria Plzen, loan), Jan Navratil (Sivasspor), Jiri Skalak (Sparta Prague, loan), Jan Sisler (Zbrojovka Brno, end of loan), Michal Smejkal (Slavia Prague, end of loan), Ales Hruska (Pribram), Miljan Vukadinovic (Taborsko), Florian Thalamy (Saint-Etienne), Florian Milla (Saint-Etienne), Donneil Moukanza (Valence)
Out: David Jarolim (retired), Radek Dosoudil (Dinamo Tbilisi), Jan Chramosta (Viktoria Plzen, loan), Jiri Stajner (Neugersdorf), Ondrej Kudela (Ordabasy), Jakub Divis (CSKA Sofia)
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 23rd July 2014