Michal Bilek has never been popular with the fans but his stock crashed to an all time low after the Czech Republic's humiliating 4-1 defeat to Russia. The manner of the reverse will throw up more questions than answers for a Czech side that has a strong and proud history at the European Championship.
Pavel Nedved must have been recoiling in horror as a well-oiled Russian team sliced the Czechs open at will. The Czech fans outnumbered the Russians on Friday evening, so when frustrations started to boil over, the chants of 'Bilek Out' echoed around the Municipal Stadium with unerring clarity.
It was a game of firsts, unwelcome firsts. The 4-1 massacre is the heaviest defeat suffered by the Czechs at a European Championship. It was also the first game for Bilek at a major tournament, with most fans hoping it will be one of his last.
It’s difficult to pinpoint any specific game plan of Bilek's; he hasn’t left an imprint on this team. There is no swagger or style, just a reliance on the old guard of Petr Cech, Tomas Rosicky and Milan Baros.
Picking 11 players and hoping that Rosicky can pull a rabbit out of the hat, yet again, is not a game plan.
The reaction among fans and media after the game reminded me of the 3-0 friendly defeat to Norway last summer, when Bilek decided to field a narrow 4-2-2-2 formation. At times, the players looked lost and out of ideas - a mirror image of their coach.
However, Jan Rezek, the 30-year-old right winger, was quick to shield blame from the coach in a Q&A session with isport.cz after the Russia defeat.
"We were well prepared for the Russians, but unfortunately we have made mistakes for which we were punished," he said. "This is football."
|ON THE BRINK
| BILEK'S RECORD AS CZECH REPUBLIC COACH
Rezek's defence of Bilek is admirable but it doesn't justify the performances churned out under the coach. It's hard to pick faults in the players selected but the team lacks cohesion; they play as individuals and not as a unit. Bilek must take responsibility. It's his job.
Bizarrely, the FACR and players appear to be behind the struggling coach. Bilek signed a contract extension just weeks ago that takes him up to World Cup 2014 qualification.
The FACR are hoping that success comes with stability, but under Bilek. the Czechs are maintaining a level of mediocrity that is unrivalled. A look at his record speaks for itself – more defeats than victories and a win percentage of 38 per cent is not good enough, given the calibre of opposition he has faced.
Tuesday night's match against Greece is a chance for Bilek to repair his ailing reputation. This writer believes Roman Hubnik should be dropped, with Michal Kadlec switching to centre back and David Limbersky slotting in at left-back.
The aforementioned defensive unit looks much more effective as proved in Montenegro and the recent friendly in Ireland.
A poll in the local media after the Norway game in 2011 was damning in its verdict - nine out of 10 people wanted Bilek out – if a depleted Greek side hammer another nail into the coffin of the Czechs, the whole country would inevitably call for Bilek's head.