The first season in history, in which the senior team had no real chance of the final trophy, is behind you. This is a new situation for the Panthers.
MICHAŁ LATOŚ: If we wanted to always win, we would stay in the Polish League and play matches that even our fans often did not want to watch anymore. Of course, a season like this 2022 is difficult, but you also have to be able to lose. This is a sport. After losing a game, you need to think about the next one and focus on it. This is what matches with teams that have existed for over 30 years teach us. It is only through such experiences that we learn how to come out of any situation with our heads held high. It teaches patience, which is the key to success in sports. In a year we will surely have more new situations and experiences.
What feelings prevailed after unsuccessful matches?
JAKUB GŁOGOWSKI: It's a matter of the match and the specific situation. When you lose a game after extra time, you feel angry, but after another minimal defeat, it could be sadness. Each player also has a different approach to losing. However, negative feelings can not dominate. The motivation to play better in the next match than the week before is to dominate. We want to be such a team and that is why even in the last match against the Vienna Vikings, when the season was already lost, we gave our best and won against the current European Champions.
What do you define as the main cause of poor performance? It all comes down to playmaker Justice Hansen injured?
ML: - Of course not. It was an unlucky season for us on many levels. Probably without Justice's injury, some games may have been different, but we must remember that we also played games in which we did not have, for example, four starting Receivers or Defenders. The final result was weak, although we recorded matches in which one decision was decisive for victory. So you could say that we were literally two touchdowns from the play-offs.
JG: Virtually every team was within our reach, but there was always something in the way. When we recovered from the injuries, we had a COVID wave inside the team, when the players were healthy, more injuries appeared. We must remember that we are constantly chasing teams filled with players with experience even twice as long as the history of our club. Yes, the first season was good in our performance, but the league is developing, we are learning and it will certainly not be easier than it was in 2021. Now, however, we know what we need to change and improve.
At what point did you realize there would be no promotion to the play-offs?
ML: - When the table showed that it was impossible. We had a chance, in fact, three more games before the end of the season. It cannot be said that we were the beating team. Only the last matches were "for honor" matches, but we still approached them as matches for everything, when we won after a dramatic game in Leipzig or at the end of the season in Wrocław.
After one of the matches, Szymon Adamczyk said an interesting thing, and I quote: "the first season of ELF in the Panthers colors was joined by players who had been in harmony with each other, who had been in the team for a long time - which was a big advantage for us - while other teams were just being formed." Do you agree with this statement?
JG: Definitely yes. We have to take into account that in the 2021 season, most of the teams trained with each other only two months before the season, and some players joined during the season. In addition, they all had to do organizational work. This year, most of them were in a different place, joined by teams with many years of experience, such as Vienna Vikings and Swarco Raiders Tirol. We have to remember how big the player markets in these countries are too. In Germany, for example, there are more active cheerleaders than in Poland, footballers. It does not make our lives easier, but we do everything to give our players the best conditions and the best specialists to reduce this distance, which, as you can see, we are doing effectively.
Are you convinced that you acquired the best players available before and during the games?
ML: - Have we ever said that we are convinced about it? There is never a situation where a player who is better in his position is not playing somewhere. The situation changes during the season as well. It works a bit differently in football than in football, for example, where the center-forward always has a very similar role to play. In football, each position requires something different, changing the setter, changing the offensive line means changing the style of the game, and then someone who shone a year ago may be useless. In defense, our style of play changed when Dave Likins came out and the players already had contracts signed. Be m
Perhaps the coach, seeing the team live, would decide on other reinforcements.
JG: Let us add that the coaching staff headed by the main coach is to be sure about the players. We, as managers, give our opinion on these decisions, but it is the coaches who build the team and are responsible for the result. You can definitely say that we could have done something better or otherwise.
Was the decision to part with Philéas Pasqualini difficult?
ML: - Each decision to part with someone who was part of the team is difficult. Discussions about Phil's future lasted for several weeks and for a few matches we were hoping to see the game again like the year before. Unfortunately, however, it was still blocked by something and we had to look for other solutions.
Reducing the number of imports from 4 + 10 to 4 + 8 meant that Jakub Samel had to make use of Polish footballers. Does this show that it is not easy to replace players from Europe with Poles?
JG: - Let's say one thing: reducing the limit by two people has not changed the fact that the core of the team must be Polish players. At the ELF, it was known from the beginning that the base is domestic players. In 2023, the limit may change again and we must be ready for it again. And that is why we do everything to ensure that players from all over the country play in Wrocław. As the only Polish team in the ELF, we are actually their representation, because the whole country and the whole of Europe are looking at us. That is why we are glad that thanks to our owner Jacek Tarczyński and his vision, we have the opportunity to offer players conditions that are often envied by European clubs.
ML: It may sound delicious, but the whole Europe is really talking about what it is like in Wrocław. Until a few years ago, we were a backwater and everyone wanted to play in Germany, for example. Today the situation is completely different and everyone who is looking for a game in Europe is considering Wrocław as one of the first choices. We are proud that we can promote our city on the entire continent in this way.
During the offseason, information appeared that Jeff Jagodziński will be a member of the training staff for the 2022 season, while the American responsible for the offensive line appeared only in July, after six matches, at the halfway point of the tournament. Why so late?
JG: The answer is very simple: Jeff was offered a job in the newly formed USFL in the United States and decided to stay there because it was a huge project. He came to us as soon as the season ended.
Do you have data on the broadcast of ELF matches in Polsat Sport News? Do you know how many people watched you on the screen?
JG: - It was an experimental year for us and for Polsat, we had to deal with the change of stations, with the construction of the appropriate quality. However, we know that as for the first season, the results of the best matches are satisfactory and there is a good chance that the cooperation will continue and develop. For us, this partnership is crucial. We want to teach the fan that he can watch football on TV every week. It is a pity that, like other European countries, we do not have regular broadcasts of NFL matches, but we believe that we will get there and it will be another step towards building the audience of ELF matches.
How do you rate the change in the kick-off rule?
ML: - There were fewer injuries, and still a lot of effective actions, so the change is as positive as possible. Anyway, the NFL is slowly approaching this change, so you can see that this is the future.
To sum up: what are the conclusions for the 2023 season?
ML: - And how much time do we have to talk (laughs)? I think these conclusions are already visible. The first is the change of Jakub Samel's position from coach to sports director. This is the way to even better training of players, even better recruitment and youth development. Of course, there will be a new head coach, recruited based on the specific characteristics and vision of the team, which we have agreed with the club owner. Panthers Wrocław is to be a club that we treat as a company. We are lucky that, as a strategic sponsor, we have such a great, international brand Tarczyński behind us and we have someone to learn from, how to run the club in an increasingly better way, and taking into account the growing attendance, more and more sponsors and partners, regular TV broadcasts , we see that this philosophy is fulfilling and we will develop it further.
This year, the Panthers were also called overseas - your former KaVontae Turpin player got into the NFL ... That was probably one of the ELF's goals - to promote players to the best league in the world?
JG: First of all, it's worth mentioning one thing: if it weren't for the Panthes episode, KaVontae wouldn't be playing for the Dallas Cowboys today. We believed in him when he was not on the rise, it allowed him to show himself internationally, and the rest is a real American dream. This is, of course, the first time it has happened, but looking at how the ELF develops, it will not be the last.
When will we know the name of the new head coach? Are you targeting someone from abroad or a Pole?
ML: - We want it to happen by the end of October. The process is very intense and the candidates are very serious. In Poland, there is only one possible candidate for a coach in Panthers and he is already our sports director, the head coach will surely be a coach from the USA.