20 June 2019. The boot room, Central Stadium, Mykolaiv.

Dramatis personae: Dmytro Nazarenko (defence coach); Roman Chumak (goalkeeper coach).

CHUMAK: So the Gaffer’s made his first signing, I hear. What do we know?

NAZARENKO: Kunev? Roman Kunev. All I know is he’s the best right back in the club.

CHUMAK: What makes you so sure about that?

NAZARENKO: Well, he’s the only right back, so that makes him by definition the best.

CHUMAK: The only one? What about Maxim Bilyk? I mean, I know he usually plays left-back, but he’s right-footed.

NAZARENKO: Yes, the gaffer had a look at that. But there’s a rumour that Bilyk’s injury prone and as soon as Bilyk incurred a groin strain, he was out: in the B Squad and listed. You know the Gaffer’s slogan: “When people hear MFC Mykolaiv, they will think ‘FITNESS’”

CHUMAK: But what about the boy, Lyashevskyi? He’s left-footed but can play on the right. He could always play…

NAZARENKO: …inverted wing back. Yeah, I made that point to the Gaffer. “Yes,” he said, “he can: but do we want him to?”

CHUMAK: Mm, that’s true. If there’s nobody in front of him, given our paucity of right midfielders, would we really want someone drifting in?

NAZARENKO: He is an option though. But we needed a full-back, proper, so welcome Mr Kunev.

CHUMAK: What do you think?

NAZARENKO: Solid. Pretty well rounded. has spent most of his career playing one level below us, with Kremin, but I wouldn’t let that worry you.

CHUMAK: How so?

NAZARENKO: Anatoliy [the assistant manager] said the Gaffer discussed the offer with him. Reckons for every clean sheet we keep, Kunev gets a bonus equivalent to 3% of his annual wages. And for staying up, a bonus equal to one third of the wages.

CHUMAK: That should be enough to concentrate the mind. Didn’t I tell you, the gaffer’s serious about winning?

NAZARENKO: You did, but I think it would be more accurate to say he’s serious about not losing.


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