Vadim Furmanov –
Futbolgrad’s Ukrainian Premier League roundup from matchday 12 focuses on the continued woes at Dynamo Kyiv.
As the final whistle sounded on Sunday, the Dynamo Kyiv fans had run out of patience. They had just witnessed their side once again fail to get a positive result, drawing 1-1 away at Oleksandriya. As the players came over to thank their traveling supporters, they were greeted with the chants “How much longer, you’re f***ing us.”
It was an especially disappointing day for Andriy Yarmolenko, whose 27th birthday was no cause for celebration. The newly appointed captain missed an excellent opportunity in the closing minutes of the first half and was booked for simulation in the second. Yarmolenko approached the supporters and was met with a hail of abuse. Visibly frustrated, the winger briefly spoke with the fans and told them “you’re only speaking like this because there’s so f***ing many of you here,” before storming off into the dressing room.
Dynamo with another mediocre performance
The ugly scenes were precipitated by yet another mediocre performance. With the result, Dynamo have now won just two of their last ten fixtures, with four defeats and four draws. In the Champions League on Wednesday, less than 26,000 supporters were on hand to witness Dynamo’s 2-0 defeat to Benfica, the worst attendance for a Champions League match in nine years.
Dynamo have now fallen to third place in the Ukrainian Premier League, eighth points behind Shakhtar, and are in last place in their Champions League group. It’s not even November, but the situation is dire.
Much of the criticism has been directed at Dynamo manager Serhiy Rebrov, who told reporters after the Benfica defeat:
“Before everything else, we need to talk about those players who have lost all motivation to play in our team, who do not want to work hard every day in training. I won’t name any names, but I’ve already talked about this subject with the president [Ihor Surkis]”.
On Sunday after the draw at Oleksandriya, Rebrov emphasized his previous statements and hinted at an ultimatum:
“There are two options: we can keep all the players and get a new manager, or we can get rid of those players that have lost all motivation, who do not want to improve every day and because of whom it is difficult to achieve anything.”
For now it seems that Revrov still has the backing of the club’s management, and recently Plus Sport reported that Surkis has lowered Dynamo’s expectations this season to second place in the domestic league and third place in the Champions League group.
However, the same report suggested that Surkis has already lined up the recently sacked Werder Bremen manager Viktor Skrypnyk as a replacement. Moreover, Dynamo’s director for media relations Mykola Nesenyuk openly questioned Rebrov’s performance following the Benfica match. In an interview with gazeta.ua he stated that Dynamo was “confidently moving toward third place in the league and fourth place in the Champions League.”
Dynamo’s struggles have resulted in the reemergence of an uncomfortable subject that been a constant talking point during Rebrov’s entire tenure at the club, namely the influence of former assistant manager Raul Riancho. The Spaniard was Rebrov’s assistant during his first two years at the club, and many reporters, supporters, and other figures openly questioned whether it was Riancho that was responsible for the club’s recent successes.
Riancho departed after the conclusion of last season, stating that Dynamo’s players had reached a comfort zone and that they would not progress any further. His words now seem prophetic, and the questions over Rebrov’s credentials will not abate anytime soon.
Is youth the answer?
While the senior side struggles, Dynamo’s U-19 side defeated Benfica 2-1 on Wednesday and is in first place in their UEFA Youth League group. The success of the youth sides has not gone unnoticed by Rebrov, who has said that he plans to bring half of the U-19 and U-21 squads to the winter training camp. Already, one of Dynamo’s revelations and few bright spots this season has been 18-year old Viktor Tsyhankov, who made his first-team debut against Napoli in the Champions League and scored the equalizer against Beşiktaş shortly after coming off the bench.
Rebrov’s vague promise to get rid of the unmotivated players and place his trust in the youth could be indicative of an overall shift in Dynamo’s approach to signings. Given the current economic conditions in Ukraine Dynamo are simply no longer in a strong enough financial position to compete for top European and South American talents, and an emphasis on youth seems timely. However, whether Rebrov is the man for the job remains to be seen.
Ukrainian Premier League Roundup – Talking Points
- During Sunday’s match Oleksandriya were unable to field Andriy Tsurikov and Roman Yaremchuk, both of whom are on loan from Dynamo. It’s a common occurrence in Ukrainian football, and a constant source of controversy. “I’ve said many times, if a club pays a player a salary, then how can that player play against his club,” asked Rebrov. It seems to work fine in other leagues.
- Shakhtar keep on cruising. They followed up an emphatic 5-0 victory in the Europa League with a comfortable 3-0 result over Zirka. The star of the show was 20-year old striker Andriy Boryachuk. His saved effort in the first half resulted in an own goal that was the opener and he personally doubled Shakhtar’s lead in the second half, with no help from the opposition. Shakhtar extend their lead over Dynamo to eight points and are firm favorites for the title, as early in the season as it may be.
- Brazilian defender Rafael Forster scored a brace and was the hero for Zorya, as they defeated Olimpik 2-0 to move to second place in the table, two points ahead of Dynamo. With the disappearance of Metalist and collapse of Dnipro, manager Yuriy Vernydub and his side are making a strong case for Zorya being the new “third force” in Ukrainian football. Not bad for an exiled side heavily reliant on Shakhtar loanees.
- “Sieg Heil, Rudolf Hess, Hitlerjugend, SS.” Volyn Lutsk convincingly defeated Dnipro 3-0 at home to record just their second victory of the season, but the performance was marred by the Neo-Nazi chanting coming from the home supporters. A law passed by the Ukrainian parliament in June of 2015 prohibits all Nazi propaganda and symbolism and decrees a prison sentence of up to five years for violations. But if the willful ignorance on the part of the authorities in the past is anything to go by, a stadium ban is the most extreme punishment we can expect.
Vadim Furmanov is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Originally from Ukraine, Vadim has resided in Chicago since 1994 and is a passionate supporter of both Dynamo Kyiv and the Ukrainian national team. He is also a Chicago Fire season ticket holder and a member of the Fire’s Section 8 supporters group. He writes primarily about Ukrainian football, as well as the intersection between football, politics, and history. You can follow Vadim on Twitter @vfurmanov.