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.