Wales fitness coach Adam Owen is reflecting on his eight months as manager of Polish top-flight team Lechia Gdansk.
“A difficult job,” the 37-year-old says. “It is a challenge to manage in eastern Europe. Not many do it and there is a reason for it.”
Owen has been a part of Wales’ backroom team since 2009, and kept his role when former winger and Manchester United great Ryan Giggs was appointed as the national coach in January.
As he helps prepare the team for the China Cup, Owen shared his experiences in Poland, games that rival Glasgow’s Old Firm derby, and his thoughts on Giggs and the new-look Wales team.
Owen joined Lechia last June as assistant manager, but had been given the top job by September after Piotr Nowak was sacked.
It was the former Wrexham defender’s first full-time managerial job, having previously held backroom and coaching roles at Rangers and Celtic in Scotland, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United in England, and Swiss club Servette.
“I came over as assistant manager and director of performance, and after 10 games the president asked me to take over,” says Owen.
Six months on, his time in northern Poland is over, with Owen having left the club earlier in March by mutual agreement. When he departed the club were 12th in the table – the same position as when he took over – though they have now dropped to 14th.
“I have no regrets,” says Owen, who has a PhD in sports science and a Uefa pro licence coaching qualification. “It has been a great experience, which I thought would not come at such an early age.
“A lot of managers have come and not had as long as I did in the job.
“It was a difficult job, a club in a transition period. They were in disarray when I took over. I made a lot of positive changes behind the scenes which influenced the club in a positive way.”
Owen says he developed the club’s tactical strategy and Lechia’s B team structure, forged closer links with the academy, developed younger players, dropped the average age of the squad and reduced the squad size.
He added: “To go into the club at a young age, in a foreign environment, and stabilise and leave the club in a better place than I found it is important for me.
“There are only positives to take away from this. It has been an incredible learning curve.”