Unexpectedly back in the hot seat at the age of 62, coach František Cipro is determined to rescue SK Slavia Praha's season after a run of poor results culminated in Karel Jarolím's dismissal.
It is ten years since Cipro left Slavia under something of a cloud, after his second spell at the helm proved less successful than his first – when the club won the 1995/96 Czech title and reached that season's UEFA Cup semi-finals, their best European performance.
Although he returned to Slavia as a scout last summer, after a decade coaching in the Czech Republic and Austria, it was generally considered that his career on the bench was over. Not so. His first two games in charge – a 1-0 Czech Cup semi-final first leg victory over AC Sparta Praha and a 3-0 First League success against FC Bohemians 1905 Praha – showed that there is life in the old dog yet.
"My goal is to lift the players' confidence," he explained. "They are all decent players and they did not forget how to play football overnight."
While the Eden stadium outfit remain seventh in the table, 13 points behind leaders Sparta, Cipro's promise upon being named Slavia coach for the third time may yet prove feasible. The division's oldest coach said: "Slavia have not missed out on Europe in 19 years and they are not going to do so now."
It has been a disappointing Slavia campaign, nonetheless, which hit rock bottom when three successive league defeats cost the long-serving Jarolím his job. The coach's reign spanned nearly five years and yielded two titles and a UEFA Champions League group stage debut.
Change, however, has brought signs of success. Milan Černý, used sparingly by Jarolím, scored the winner against Sparta, while midfielder Peter Grajciar's two Beckhamesque free-kicks helped see off Bohemians 1905. "I was going to replace him just before his first goal because he wasn't playing well," said Cipro. "You need a bit of luck sometimes."
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