PO Box 306, Glasgow, G21 2AE, Scotland
so farewell then...
So the first of Gordon Strachan’s big signings makes his exit stage left with more questions than answers left behind.
That Zurawski is a talented forward is beyond question, his record for his country and for his previous club is proof enough of that, but some, possibly the majority, of his performances with Celtic have fallen well short of what we were expecting when he arrived.
His goals record of 30 in 73 games appears to be more than respectable, but it’s a good example of lies, damned lies and statistics.
Too often he was found wanting in the big games. In Europe, for example, he was rarely a threat, the biggest contribution being his penalty in the shoot out against Spartak this season.
He arrived in the summer of 2005 for £2m from Wislaw Krakow, for whom he had been a goalscoring hero. No one in Scotland had heard of him and he was almost instantly written off by the press.
Indeed, ridicule was heaped upon him when it emerged that he had been given the number 7 jersey. This, we were told, was not the guy who would replace Larsson.
His early performances did nothing to suggest they were wrong. A typical early season effort came when he was clear through on the ‘keeper against Dundee United and weakly shot straight in to the goalie’s hands.
For our first big league game of the season at Ibrox he was relegated to the bench.
But things were about to change.
After the game at Ibrox we travelled to Dunfermline missing Thomson and Lennon. Both had been red cardedduring (in Lennon’s case after!)the Rangers game. This was pretty much the first time we got to see a Strachan team, a team almost entirely stripped of the players Martin O’Neill trusted.
After 10 minutes Zurawski received the ball on the left. He cut inside his man and scored with a shot to the near post. The relief on his face was obvious. He scored another in the second half, set up Naka for his first goal for the club and should have had a hat-trick but for a wrong offside flag.
He scored again the following week against Aberdeen and it looked like things were coming good. Then he picked up a knock while playing for Poland and we didn’t see him again until January.
When he returned he managed not only to retain his form but improve on it, scoring in almost every game, including the only goal at Ibrox, four against Dunfermline at East End Park and the opener in the League Cup final.
He finished the season with 20 goals from 29 appearances, which is pretty good on the face of it (remove Dunfermline from the stats and it becomes 13 from 26 less impressive, but you can manipulate figures any way you like).
More importantly he finished the season with a league winners’ badge.
That summer he played in the World Cup finals in Germany, but it’s safe to say he’ll probably want to gloss over that tournament. Three games, no goals and not many shots - he just never really got going (Boruc was of course Poland’s most impressive player, which probably gives you a good idea of what their games were like).
He started the next season well enough - two goals on the opening day against Killie - but that was almost the high point of the season for him. He managed a further 8 goals but was a peripheral figure for most of the campaign.
Two of those goals came in the League Cup. Such was his contribution in one of those matches, against St Mirren a game that he started, the diary entry for the game read “In the last minute it turned out that Zurawski was on the pitch as he tapped the ball into an empty net”.
This season he has been, at best, used from the bench at the end of games, never really featuring and clearly not in the manager’s plans. His transfer was best for everyone.
Since his departure he has, of course, decided to do the one thing he never ever did during his time with us; put the boot in.
To read some of what has been attributed to him you would think that this was a prolific striker cruelly shunned by an uncaring manager, resulting in the distressed player contemplating prescribed medication to combat depression (don’t take this wrong but I hope that one day we are all in the position of receiving thousands of pounds every week to play football and still feeling a bit down in the dumps if we don’t get picked).
The truth is that WGS showed more than adequate patience with Zurawski, but he simply wasn’t delivering.
One website review of his career remarked that Zurawski at Celtic was no more than a one season wonder. I’ll go along with that.