We are just ten days away from the new Gambrinus Liga season kicking off and I can feel a sense of cautious optimism building around Eden. Pre-season has habit of breeding false confidence – I should know – but Slavia seem to be heading in the right direction after an excellent end to last season. And, for once, the board have made a sensible decision in making Michal Petrouš coach on a permanent basis.
It seems after several disasters in the Slavia dugout the board have realised the answer could have been under their noses all along. The fans, myself included, will back Petrouš and believe he warrants a decent crack in turning around the ailing club and get back among the top clubs in the country.
However, I maybe in the minority here, but I believe Slavia should make the Pohár České pošty a priority this season, even it means resting players for league games. It’s a competition they have only won on three occasions and rarely seem to take serious, but this season, more than ever, they need a catalyst to kick start a new era for the club.
Viktoria Plzeň hadn’t won a domestic honour until their Cup success in 2009/10 – the following season they won the league (a crown they regained last season). Their cup heroics acted as a catalyst for that Plzeň side, giving them belief and confidence to go on to bigger and better things. Of course, comparing the Slavia 2013/14 squad to Plzeň 2009/10 is like comparing oranges with apples but the principle remains the same. Success breeds success.
Winning league titles was the norm for Slavia but not even my optimistic outlook anticipates the club to get within sniffing distance of the league title this season, or even next.
The club lacks the depth and quality required to maintain or even mount a serious challenge but they are more than capable of beating any team on their day. Victories over Sparta at Eden and a win at the Doosan Arena last season were as surprising as they were deserved.
That’s why the Pohár České Pošty takes on even more significance in my eyes. For one, it’s a realistic target – as much as that hurts Slavista’s who were brought up on league titles and famous European nights. And secondly it would lift the club and get them back in the winning habit.
Moreover, if Slavia manage to win the Pohár České Pošty next season they will also qualify for Europe and that will really give the club a platform to build on.