herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Berg backing his boys to progress

HENNING BERG, a Champions League winner back in the day, has been manager of Legia Warsaw for 204 days.

The chances of him making it as far as day 205 tomorrow rests very much on the outcome of tonight's Champions League game against St Patrick's Athletic at Tallaght Stadium.

Just like Steve Staunton's four-year plan was put out of its misery before its time, a long-term programme for the former Manchester United man as boss of Poland's biggest club will finish up early should Pats outwit Legia tonight and earn that meeting with Celtic in the next round of the Champions League, fans already unhappy with 'only' drawing at home to Pats last week.

FLOPPED

Legia flopped in the group stages of the Europa League last season, losing five of their six games and that created the managerial vacancy which brought Berg to Warsaw, so he knows what is at stake in Dublin 24 tonight.

But the cool Norwegian says he can absorb it all and do what's needed - getting Legia to that encounter with Celtic.

"At a club the size of Legia there are expectation levels and there is always going to be pressure, it's normal. This is part of the job and it's better to have pressure than none, then you have no chance of doing anything," he says.

"There will be pressure, at Legia every game we play is important. I came into this job in January. As a foreign coach coming into Poland, there was pressure to keep winning and we did that, we won the league.

"Progress is important, the ambition is to play in Europe and do well, for our development it's important for us to be in Europe.

"And for the players it's easy, they can do their jobs and let the coach take the pressure," added Berg, who took a strong squad to Dublin for the game.

One of his key decisions is whether to start former Poland international and Southampton striker Marek Saganowski, who was a sub in the home game with Pat's but started for their league game last weekend.

But scoring goals is not the problem for Legia, their worries are at the back, with a leaky defence at home to Pat's last week.

"This game tonight is a tough game for us but we know if we play to our best level we have a good chance of winning," Berg added.

"Our main job and focus is on St Patrick's, we have to make sure we play to our best level to give us a chance of going through.

"It is still half-way in the tie but for us to have ambitions in Europe and do well, as we want to do. These are the games we want to win."

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