After a promising start to 2014-15, Banik Ostrava decided to throw everything away and end the season with nothing. The main core of the home support was boycotting the club; their highly rated core of youngsters had been broken up and sold over Christmas; and Petr Frnka had failed to do anything of note since Martin Svedik was bizarrely handed his P45. From an improbable fifth when the league broke up for winter, Banik ended up in thirteenth. If last minute survival runs were the theme of seasons gone by then last term was all about a last minute dive to the bottom.
But this season begins in new surroundings. Founded as Slezska Ostrava, Banik is inherently Silesian, but for the first time in their history they will be residing on the other side of the Ostravice River in Vitkovice. It hasn’t been a popular decision to relocate the club, but with Banik totally reliant on the local council for handouts and a home, it’s a move that had to happen.
Last season: 13th
Odds: 1000/1 (Bwin)
Now in a perpetual state of crisis, the continued lack of funds and investment – not to mention a steady hand in the boardroom – drove home-town hero Milan Baros to despair. The former Liverpool man is prone to the occasional outburst, but when he let both barrels loose in the direction of Petr Safarcik and company he hit the proverbial nail right on its proverbial head. Banik lacked “humility, professionalism and the [people] that could lead this club,” he lamented. The only thing he missed off the list was money.
But there has been a little bit of fight shown by the management over the summer, enough to rebuff bids from Michal Frydrych and Jiri Pavlenka at least. Keeping hold of these two, coupled with the back-to-basics approach with Daniel Holzer, will be vital for their fortunes this season – as will a continued show of faith in their youth structure.
Despite all the gloom there are a few bright sparks around. On his day Jiri Pavlenka is one of the league’s best goalkeepers and the defence isn’t that bad – as much of a thinly veiled compliment that viewpoint is. Further forward the Sasinka brothers (Jakub, 19, and Ondrej, 17) could break through into Banik’s first-team for good this season and there is always the mercurial Daniel Holzer out wide.
It is hard to back Banik Ostrava for anything other than a relegation scrap. Without cash or confidence the 2004 champions could be forced to cash in and sell once more. As sad and unfortunate as it is, the clock is ticking and their time in the Czech top flight could well be up.
Jiri Pavlenka – Part of the Czech Republic Under-21 squad this summer, the talented shot-stopper is on the radar of a number of clubs but Banik have, so far, rejected any advances. Very, very talented, there will be a lot of pressure on Pavlenka’s shoulders to manage an unproven defensive unit and keep opposing teams out.
One to watch
Daniel Holzer – We’re big fans of Daniel Holzer in this parish and with good reason too. Yes he suffered horrendously after the departure of Martin Svejdik, but we think that with some semblance of structure and normality back he’ll be allowed to flourish once more. If he finds his form, expect him to depart for calmer environments.
- Posted by Chris Boothroyd
- On 13th July 2015