Before we begin, I must say a huge thanks to the community for the huge levels of support this Soviet save has received since I posted the introduction a few days ago. I have honestly been blown away by the level of interaction. Thank you guys, you’ve made me really look forward to writing this next piece.
Part One: Introducing the “Warriors of Light”
At the end of our last article, we were left with a choice of 5 teams in the Soviet Top League to take over as we begin our mission to be top dogs of the Soviet Union, as well as the world. In the end, after much interaction on social media, this was narrowed down to 4, and the democratic process of a twitter poll decided the rest.
FC Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk was our destination. To be completely honest, they were the team I was least sure about, BUT after looking deeper into their history, rewatching videos on YouTube, and reading all articles from Futbolgrad, I felt suitably prepared, and excited for the journey!
First port of call was to create a manager. I’ve got a very English real name, so creating myself was not an option. Step forward creation Leo Zotov…
I don’t know if you guys do this, but (in my mind at least) obviously Leo needed a short backstory to explain how he came to be. Leo is therefore a retired professional and international. Playing as a holding midfielder, Leo spent the majority of his entire career at Dnipro, and after the former manager was sacked, was thrown into the managerial hot seat to take Dnipro to glory. A year has been given to have a successful season, a strong league performance, as well as a good showing in the Europa League (remember, now a knockout contest from the off) should see a contract extension being placed on the table.
After all the pleasantries with the board and the assistant are complete, the first job is to look at the team we have.
We’re predicted to finish 3rd in the Soviet Top League, but to say it will be plain sailing is an understatement. On first analysis, we have a good, strong set of players, with the very talented Eugene Konoplyanka being our star attraction. Captain and veteran Ruslan Rotan is also a strong character, and will be huge in our midfield, with some decent mental stats, especially for this league. It’s a talented first team, with decent players in nearly all positions. All with the exception of Right Wing, where first choice Roman Zozulya has a torned ligament, and is out for 4-5 months. This is a potential problem, as we have no back ups in this position, and our closest youth, Svyatoslav Shapovalov being well off the quality needed. Left back is also an issue, with the Brazilian Loanee Anderson Pico being our only option. This perhaps will be my first area to fill in the transfer market.
This then highlights another potential problem for us. Our first team is great. We have a good balance in youth and experience, and seem fit to compete at the highest level, even if one or two players are approaching the dreaded drop off age in terms of physicality. Drop down into the reserves and the U19s, and we are dreadfully thin on the ground when it comes to players pushing through. Perhaps this is because the best youths are already in the first team, but it’s certainly something I will look to address over the next season or two.
The Style of Play
My team look intelligent enough to play a good attacking tactic, and with my ambitions to be the Soviet Guardiola, a 4-3-3 formation is adopted, similar to the BVB TOTAL tactic used during the Dortmund save. This isn’t plug and play, it’s a different tactic as before, sharing similarities, but designed around this team.
The best must be made of Konoplyanka, with him adopting a prominent inside forward position out wide left. A decent rotation wide right to compliment him will do nicely. Midfield will see us utilise our intelligent players and playmakers, namely Captain Rotan, Valeriy Fedorchuk, and Jaba Kankava, although 34 Year old Edmar, and Attacking Midfielder Roman Bezus both could make these positions their own.
Our defense seems to be our weakest area, and whilst we have a good selection of young players coming through, it could prove to be our downfall in matches. 31 year old Eugene Cheberyachko seems to be our best Centre Back, with the 28 year old Dmytro Chygrynskyi partnering him. Right Back seems to be solid, with 30 year old Soviet International Artem Fedetskyi, and 19 year old Valeriy Luchkevych both being very good in their position.
In goal, Denys Boyko seems to be our first choice, although a competent back up in 32 year old Czech national Jan Lastuvka seems to be a safe pair of hands, should anything happen to Boyko. The only issue there would be his nationality, and whilst I am happy to use the 3 foreign players ruling, I would prefer to do it on something a little more substantial than back up goalkeeper. Perhaps something to look to in the future…
Our potential starting XI looks something like this.
As a club, Dnipro are all you’d expect from a club expected to finish 3rd. We are stable and rich (by Soviet standards!), and have good facilities. A 31,000 all seater stadium, Impressive training and Suberb youth facilities mean we are a club with the potential to go far (although, you’d expect better from the youth ranks with that level of facility!).
We are also, for a club of it’s current size, relatively thin in terms of silverware, something we hope to change in the years to come.
A budget of £3.33m is allocated for transfers, a big budget by Soviet standards, with the majority of sales going for small fees. It should be enough to get us some good enough players in the positions we most desperately need, without having to radically change the backbone of what seems to be a solid squad. 7 friendlies have been arranged, including a visit from West German side Hannover 96, and an away visit to Austria to play SK Sturm Graz, all before the opening fixture of the league season, an away trip to Kyiv to play Dynamo. Ouch, not the nicest of starts.
With all that in mind, I feel a reasonable objective would be to reach the predicted 3rd place, although it will be tough. Kyiv and Shakhtar are beyond incredible, and the likes of the Dinamo, CSKA and Spartak in Moscow will no doubt be close behind. A solid league display, a good performance in the Europa League, and a cup run in the Soviet Cup would be a fantastic debut season. Whether we can do it remains to be seen.
What do you think? Can we go on and perform well in our debut season in the Soviet Top League? As always, you can follow me on twitter @VRFussball , where you can ask me any questions on the save, and I will do my best to post them!
Thank you once again for taking the time to read this piece. Please, if you like what you’ve read, share it amongst your comrades, like you would do in any self respecting Socialist Society!
See you next time!