End of the working day, 6 August 2020.
Atmosfera bar, Central Avenue, Mykolaiv.
Dramatis personae: Grigor Pasha (MFC Mykolaiv manager); Anatoliy Didenko (assistant manager)
[PASHA places a familiar diagram on the table.]
PASHA: So, half a dozen games in: what’s our view of the tactic?
DIDENKO: Even now, every time I look at the graphic, it looks a bit odd. But it looks a lot better in practice.
PASHA: What do you think have been the plus points?
DIDENKO: We get the ball forwards without fuss. If we’re a goal behind, I always think we’re in with a chance of getting something.
PASHA: And the weaknesses?
DIDENKO: There are a couple. But first let me make a suggestion. When we play with Kravchenko as the target, I agree we should have him attacking. He’s natural goal scorer. But when the target’s Bugay, I wonder whether he should have more of a support role.
PASHA: Yes, perhaps he should. He’s sometimes too eager to have a pop and wastes possession as a result. And his work rate’s improved and off the ball movement is very good, so he would show for the ball. Now, the weaknesses. We can’t afford to ignore the them.
DIDENKO: The right back’s exposed. I think one reason Kunev’s found things hard work is that he hasn’t got protection ahead of him.
PASHA: That’s true. But I don’t know what to do about it.
DIDENKO: I think most tactical problems could be solved by playing with twelve players.
PASHA: Now, Anatoliy, why didn’t I think of that? [They clink glasses to celebrate Didenko’s tactical insight.] Although, come to think of it, I suppose then the opposition might decide to play with twelve too.
No, perhaps we just have to live with this problem. We could just tell Kunev to stay back and defend — though actually his movement and use of the ball is rather judicious, so we would lose something doing that. What’s the other?
DIDENKO: Left side of midfield. Really, if we’re to remain compact, we don’t want our player playing too wide. In fact, ideally we want a wide midfielder, rather than a winger. The player’s who’s best suited to that is the boy Tsvetkov, but he’s in poor form…
PASHA: He is, isn’t he? We’ll need to get to the bottom of that.
DIDENKO: I think Kucherenko’s a better player, but he’s definitely a winger, not a wide midfielder.
PASHA: I fear there’s no way to square the circle. And, for the moment, I’m going with Kucherenko. I find him exciting. Has some pace and can run with the ball. When he gets the ball, I sit up more, become almost a spectator rather than a manager. ‘Let’s see what he can do,’ I think.
You know, I swear these glasses are getting smaller. Either that or evaporation. Whichever, we’re in need of another half.