SCENE I: First thing, 26 September 2019 — the day after Mykolaiv have been dumped out of the Ukranian Cup. The manager’s office.

Dramatis personae: Grigor Pasha (manager); Anatoliy Didenko (assistant manager); Roman Chumak (goalkeeper coach).

PASHA: I thought we’d get together and talk about how to approach the next few days.

[Nods of agreement.]

It’s obviously a tough time. We haven’t won for over a month. And while in most of these games we’ve been competitive, in the last two we’ve lost 2-0 and frankly haven’t really even turned up.

DIDENKO; I feel let down by the players. We need to see more fight.

CHUMAK: Not enough of them are taking responsibility, if you ask me.

PASHA: I share your views — but, of course, it’s up to us to find a way to change all that. I’ve organised an intense schedule. We need to confront the problem areas and build team spirit.

So it’s: Recovery; Team bonding; [looks over his glasses at Chumak] Shot stopping; Defend corners; Chance conversion.

DIDENKO: Yes. Spot on. It’s Kremin next. We beat them 5-1 in the season’s opener. We can do this.

PASHA: I held back our best players from the cup game because I wanted them fresh for Kremin. We’ll be at full strength, in tip-top condition. The team talk writes itself: ‘Today’s the day we reverse the trend!’

[The three men are carried out of the office by a sea of adrenalin.]


SCENE II. 28 September 2019. Kremin Arena.

RADIO REPORTER: So it’s finished Kremin 2 Mykoliav 1. Kremin were good value for their win. Mykolaiv made things far too easy for Kremin for the winning goal: a punt downfield from the goalkeeper Olinyk to Chonak, who controlled it under no pressure at all and steered it into the net. There’ll be a serious inquest now at Mykolaiv. This match makes it 4 points out of a possible 21 and the last time they won in the league was 14 August.

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