He came, he saw, he began to re-educate Sparta in football – and they must win immediately. Brian Priske knew what he was getting into. It will be all the more interesting to watch how he copes with this difficult task.
Under the baton of new Danish coach Brian Priske, Sparta started summer training on June 15. Representatives joined the team on June 23. Letenští will play their first competitive match on Thursday, July 21 against Viking Stavanger in the first match of the second preliminary round of the Conference League.
Of course, the Spartans had the same amount of time to prepare for European Cup qualification as the players of Viktoria Plzeň, who will play on Wednesday in Helsinki, or the Slavists, who will play in Gibraltar on Thursday against the local St. Josephs.
In any case, coaches Michal Bílek and Jindřich Trpišovský will continue their work from the previous season, they will develop the style and habits that their wards already know, and any new arrivals will integrate more easily into the already moving train.
On the other hand, Sparta changed their coach, Brian Priske came instead of Pavel Vrba and brought with him a number of colleagues, experts in data analysis and physical training.
What is important: Sparta wants to fundamentally change its style under Priske’s leadership. Play at a much higher intensity, after losing the ball immediately aggressively try to get the ball back. Converted to a domestic comparison, this means playing in the style that Trpišovský Slavia has established itself with.
Does Sparta already know what it wants to play?
For a long time, it seemed that Sparta was looking for a different way to play. Lighter, combination, benefiting more from technical skills than strength. If we personify it for the sake of simplification, Sparta did not taste the sweet grapes of victory either with Kanga or with Bořek Dočkal.
And with Pavlo Vrba on the bench, with all due respect, she lost another season. If Spartan sports director Tomáš Rosický now says that his priority is a high-intensity pace of play, then Pavel Vrba never really fit into this formula.
And if we proceed with the thesis that last spring Rosický did not want Vrba, but Michal Bílek, then this characteristic would fit half of him.
This brings us to the long-standing problem of Sparta, which is quite characteristic of not really knowing what it wants. He doesn’t even know what he will want in six months or a year. And the absolute biggest confusion is who decides what when.
In an intelligently managed club, the sports line is clearer and more legible, the present in it follows the future, and this is reflected in the selection of coaches, reinforcements and in the education of the youth. Every other change in such a well-established system is then easier, it only gradually develops a functioning organism.
Priske, on the other hand, is supposed to bring about a leap change in the style of play performed under Pavel Vrba. The Dane was given a few weeks to retune the sleek spa orchestra, which preludes waltzes on the colonnade without a drop of sweat on its collar, into a brutal cut à la Rammstein.
Time works for the opponent
Usually, the bigger the change, the more time you need to make it. So that everything fits, so to speak.
Jindřich Trpišovský had the advantage of coming to Slavia in the winter. He could prepare for a sharp start and re-educate the team for half a year.
With a similar idea, the owner of Sparta, Daniel Křetínský, terminated the work of coach František Straka already in the winter, so that Jaroslav Hřebík would have time to prepare fundamental tactical changes. That 18 years ago it was carried out very wildly, forcefully and essentially amateurishly, so that the coup destabilized Sparta internally, but that is a bit of a different story.
Let’s stick with the fact that football is a process. And if someone starts teaching you something new in June, things can start to get pretty good in October, for example.
The joke is that Sparta needs to get it going now on Thursday. The European Cup is of course a very important stage for every participant. And year after year, the Czech representatives are forced to solve the puzzle of how to deal with the summer preliminaries, when in fact the season hasn’t even really started yet.
Aggression came with Kuchta
If Sparta wants to play in the Conference League group, they have to beat three opponents in turn. The first of them will be Viking Stavanger, currently the 3rd team in the Norwegian league table. Surely it should not be an insurmountable opponent. But its advantages will surely include the fact that the soccer season is in full swing in Scandinavia, so Viking is tuned into the rhythm of competitive matches.
Sparta, on the other hand, will go to the duel from preparation. In it, they beat Rijeka 2:0, lost 0:1 with Wolfsberger and added a 1:1 draw with the Hungarian club Paksi. And if anything has rubbed off on her so far, it’s mainly converting chances.
Jan Kuchta, who was loaned from Lokomotiv Moscow to Slavists’ displeasure, brings the desired aggressiveness to the game, to which he can also drag his teammates. The back ranks were strengthened by another ex-Slavic player Jaroslav Zelený, the fans are curious to see what Jan Mejdr, Lukáš Sadílek or the young Kryštof Daněk will do in the red jersey.
The goal is clear, promotion to the Conference League. In his previous positions, Brian Priske has shown that he knows how to find his way in the jungle of pre-wheels. The coming days and weeks will show whether he will confirm his reputation in Sparta as well.
Everyone wants and needs European Cups. For indebted Viktoria Plzeň, success in the preliminary rounds is literally a necessity of life. Both Slavia and Sparta are supported by owners who are financially capable of bridging a possible shortfall, but failure also entails other synergies.
Example? Only in cup Europe can players develop properly and increase their attractiveness and creditworthiness on the transfer market.
Depression or masterful reversals?
If Priske didn’t make it through the preliminary rounds with Sparta, the club wouldn’t collapse economically as a result, not only thanks to Křetínský’s wallet, but also thanks to the income from Hložek’s transfer to Leverkusen.
Of course, failure would take the wind out of Priska’s sails. The public would be more critical of him, the atmosphere inside the club would fade, and even the players would be embittered by the fact that the crazy hard work from the summer training didn’t lead anywhere. Of course, everything would be much more difficult for Priske in such a state of mind.
On the other hand, if between Scylla and Charybdis the European preliminary rounds pass, all doubts will disappear and Priske will be king in Sparta with full support and confidence. Which are the basic prerequisites for him to be able to lead her to the top. To the championship title, for which Sparta has been waiting for years.
Answers to the question of what the end will be, the very beginning can tell a lot. On Thursday against Viking Stavanger.