Bartosz Grzelak: "I see huge potential in the club"

We spoke to our new head coach before the team's training session on Wednesday.

It was an eventful March for our new head coach Bartosz Grzelak. After signing the contract and taking the usual photos, the Swedish coach met with the first team staff and then the players, but he still managed to squeeze in a few minutes for a quick interview.

I know you have a lot to deal with on the first day, and we have a very important match against Budapest Honvéd on Saturday, but let me ask you a "warm-up" question. You made your debut in the Swedish top flight at the age of 19, you were a member of the national youth team, but you still started coaching at a young age. What happened?

I wasn't a bad player, I had enough talent to be invited to play for the junior teams, but I couldn't take the final step needed to become a professional footballer at a high level. I quickly decided that I would prefer to work as a coach, studied management theory at the Stockholm University of Physical Education and then started working as a player-coach in the lower divisions at the age of 28. When we were promoted from the fourth to the third division, I was promoted to head coach of IK Frej and we managed to get promoted to the second division when I was also working as sporting director at the club. It was here that I learned the basics of coaching. From there, I was invited by AIK to become an assistant coach, we became Swedish champions in 2018, and then I gained international experience with the U21 national team. Then in 2020, AIK found themselves in a difficult situation, I was asked to become head coach, I was happy to do it, and 22 out of 24 months went very well. In the end, not everything worked out as I had planned, but you can learn a lot from such periods. Now, I'm here in Fehérvár and, as I said when I signed, I'm really looking forward to working with the team at such a big club.

How would you sum up your coaching philosophy? What can Vidi fans expect from Bartosz Grzelak's team?

I consider myself an attacking coach, who likes his players to play creatively and courageously on the pitch. My previous teams were characterised by the fact that the players worked very hard during the game, for me this is an important and fundamental expectation. Of course, organised defending is also essential for a successful performance - it's not good for any team to concede a goal or goals in every game. My philosophy is to first 'adjust' the positional play to improve the attacking play of the team, so that the players can enjoy their game more, which will have a positive impact on performance. But again, this should not be at the expense of organised defending.

We are three training sessions away from the home league match against Honvéd on Saturday evening. What can be changed in such a short time?

I'd like to see more of our players involved in the attacking play. We have different tools to achieve this in a short period of time. Also, I would like to have a more compact team defence for Saturday, so we need to work on building a solid defence. These are obviously basic things, but we'll start with these and then we can build on them later.

According to a Polish website, you were approached by several local top clubs recently, but you did not say yes to these offers, but you managed to reach an agreement with Vidi very quickly. What was the reason for that?

I see huge potential in the club. Of course, I can see that the team is in a difficult situation at the moment, but I see it as a great opportunity to work here because of the tradition and the vision. When I met Roland Juhász and Bence Szabó in person, I was convinced that they are personalities I will be able to work well with. Besides, I have been wanting to try myself in a new environment for a while and I feel that Vidi is the best choice for me for the reasons I have just mentioned.

I read that you were (would have been) considered as a television pundit by a Swedish channel. Are you also interested in the media world, or was it more of a wink to be in front of the cameras?

After I was no longer working for AIK, I was asked by one of the channels to be an expert and I was happy to say yes, as I was already following the events and I could try a new field. However, in reality I was only on screen once, because Vidi offered me a job, and I'm first and foremost a football coach who has a place on the pitch!

Szerző: David Rechnitzer