A three-time Slovak First League winner as a player with ŠK Slovan Bratislava, Samuel Slovák is in pole position to claim his first title with the club as a coach.
Slovák's most recent domestic championship came in 2009 and now, in his first coaching role, his team are six points clear at the summit with one round of games to go before the winter break. "It's too early to be satisfied but I would be lying if I said that, originally, I believed it was possible for us to be leading going into the winter break," the 37-year-old told UEFA.com.
Third last season, 18 points adrift of champions MŠK Žilina, Slovan are setting the pace this time around. Their lofty status is all the more impressive given Slovák only took over from Vladimír Weiss after Slovan collected just four points from their first three league fixtures. They have lost twice in their subsequent 15 top-flight matches, including a 1-0 home defeat by bottom side FC Spartak Trnava earlier this month.
"That was the worst day imaginable, but we managed to bounce back with a win in the next game," said Slovák. "I am so glad we are holding onto first place. I want us to try not only to get maximum points, but also to produce solid performances."
A former Slovakia midfielder who made 151 appearances for the club, Slovák's sole previous experience in the dugout had been with the Slovan reserve team last term. He took to his new job like a duck to water, however, opening his tenure with three straight victories. "All I did was whet the players' appetite for victory and get them to believe in their abilities," he insisted.
"I also used some players who had been sitting on the bench. It was much harder work learning about our upcoming opponents than it was getting to know Slovan. I used to watch our games regularly so I already knew the players. I also had to learn to deal with press conferences!"
Though the capital outfit's attendances are yet to match their progress on the pitch – 2,600 fans were at last week's 3-1 win against FK AS Trenčín, their last home match until March – the man at the helm is still determined to please those who come through the turnstiles. "It's still a big disadvantage for us and it's not an ideal place to play football," said the former CD Tenerife and 1. FC Nürnberg player. "However, we want everybody who does come to enjoy our football."
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