I’ve now reached the mid season break, which took longer than expected due to crash dumps and hangovers. It’s been an emotional journey, none more so than on Sunday when I couldn’t bring myself to progress one day. Monday did bring some movement forward.
It’s now Mid-January and the team is on its 3 month winter break. I was not aware that Ukraine had such a long break, so it’s been educational. Our last league game was November 30th and we don’t kick another ball in the league until March 1st. There’s the Europa League games that lead us into the league games at the end of February, but more about that in a minute.
How would I rate the first half of the season? Well, it started ok, then went really well and after a few injuries I feared for my job a bit. We went through a torrid time where we couldn’t buy a goal and were conceding from almost every set piece that went against us. If it wasn’t a set piece, it was a second ball that the goalkeeper had parried. Was very disappointed and we missed a lot of open goals.
That little spell where we didn’t score for three games was tough viewing. We barely created and in a couple of those games, we really missed Yarmolenko’s threat from out wide. We were rather unlucky in the games against Real Sociedad, we missed a penalty and finished the game with nine men due to injuries/all subs being used. We should have been able to beat Metalurg and the defeat to Dnipro was particularly hard as they scored in the 83rd minute, the game was really close until then.
Shakhtar steamrollered us, as I expected them to do due to their vastly superior team. We were incredibly lucky against Karpaty and Feyenoord. Both games we were 3-0 up at half-time, they gave us a scare, but we managed to hold out.
I’ve tinkered with the tactics a little bit more, but it was due to losing Yarmolenko and then Kalitvintsev for long periods.
We look a bit off the pace in the league, but a couple of wins could get us in with a shout of second place. We’re still within reach and it’s only the halfway point just now.
Some of the players have been excellent, especially Zozulya who I signed from Dnipro. He has a pretty excellent scoring record for us.
Yarmolenko has also been excellent, as you’d expect. Sergiy Kryvtsov, who I nabbed off of Shakhtar at the start of the season has been a consistent performer for me too. So my signings have been doing pretty good.
I’d give myself a C for the first half of the season, we need to do better and be a lot better in front of goal. In one or two matches, we had 4 clear cut chances, but never took one of them. If some of my midfielders could chip in with a couple of goals each, we’d be right in the mix. Hopefully we can turn around potential defeats into at least a draw.
We managed to progress in both cup competitions that we’re in, so a cup win is still a realistic target, although the domestic cup seems the more realistic.
I’ve setup some friendlies for my mid-season break to get the match sharpness back and then it’s right into the Europa League games against Steaua Bucharest.
Next report should be an end of season report… or a sacking, who knows?
Thank you for reading, I’ve had a great amount of support and retweets etc this week and it’s very encouraging. Much appreciation for taking the time to check in.