|Shulenin scores the game-winning goal. Photo: fcdynamo.ru|
Despite clearly having had more possession of the ball in the first half and over 20 shots throughout the game (only 6 of which were on target), Dynamo Moscow started off the 2012/2013 season near the bottom of the table. The team, which outnumbered Volga after the 52nd minute when Maksimov was red-carded for a dangerous foul, conceded one goal from a corner kick. A throw-in for Volga on the 69th minute resulted in Sapogov's cross to the right side, giving Shulenin the opportunity for a header.
It is clear why FC Volga won the match. It is a team that plays as one unit both in the attack and defense. When Volga had possession of the ball, all ten players went forward. When Dynamo had the ball, all ten Volga players receded to the 18-yard box to fend off the attack. One way or another, the team would have scored. Gadzhi Gadzhiyev, who took over as manager after Dmitri Cheryshev's unsuccessful stint at the club (he had a 30.56% win percentage), demonstrated his skill by leading the underdogs to a win despite the fact that they were playing with 10 men for nearly half of the game. The former Anzhi manager (Guus Hiddink recently took over), Gadzhiyev is infamous for his row with match officials during last season's win against none other than Dynamo Moscow. He broke the door to the referees' room during halftime to protest the controversial decisions the officials made during the match. It doesn't look like he needs to do any more door-breaking, though, as the refereeing in today's game was top-notch. You gotta take your hat off to this coach, not only for leading a 10-man team to victory but for making the right substitution and getting Shulenin into the game. Volga celebrated their well-deserved win as though they'd just won the Cup.
As much as you can talk about the success of Volga's new management, it's evident that their win was also due to Dynamo's poor playing style. Silkin's team had sloppy attacks and didn't make use of their opportunities. That's not to say they didn't come close to scoring on more than one occasion, and were only prevented from doing so by Volga's amazing goalkeeper, Ilya Abayev. The veteran keeper's best moment of the game was a fantastic save on the 86th minute, when Dynamo captain Kevin Kuranyi stretched to tip the ball in about a foot from the net. Abayev acted quickly, getting down low and sending the ball in the opposite direction with an outstretched left leg. Many other keepers would have panicked in that situation. But Volga only had three shots on goal, and Dynamo could have easily won this game 3-0 or 4-0.
There were two evident precursors to Dynamo's failure – last season and the pre-season friendlies. While friendly matches do not affect a team's premier league standings and are often dubbed meaningless, these games do matter. The pre-season is a reflection not of the way a team will play all of their games in the league, but of that team's potential. Dynamo had two wins and a draw in Sweden, but played rather poorly. Their performance was not surprising – last season, the team catapulted from third place in the leader board to fourth. They were lucky enough to make the 2012-13 UEFA Europa League qualifying round. There are quite a few things wrong with the team. For starters, Assistant Manager Dmitriy Hohlov has left the main club and now manages the reserve team. No Andriy Voronin, Samedov, and Smolov means less talent on the team. As much as 17-year-old Panyukov can bring to the pitch, he's still an inexperienced player, and would do well by playing alongside Voronin and Samedov. All of these factors stem back to the root of the problem – Sergei Silkin. The saying goes “ask not what the club can do for you, but what you can do for the club”. Silkin has done a lot for Dynamo in terms of demolishing a team that was ready and able to make the Champions League. His attitude towards his players is more business-like than human. It is clear that he cares about flattering the club's president far more than flattering the club – his making Kuranyi captain was a direct result from the President's rather than the manager's preference for the player. What about having Anton Shunin as the main goalkeeper? Roman Berezovsky is not only far more experienced, but a far better keeper, holding the record for the greatest number of penalty saves in all of Russia. The talent is present, but the manager refuses to use it. When profit comes before merit, success is only fleeting. The manager can make all the promises he wants about getting the team to play an attack-oriented game. If he can't get along with the players, he can't lead his team to victory – end of story.
Nevertheless, pretending Volga is really FC Barcelona in disguise due to their red and blue striped kit won't make Dynamo fans feel any better.
A loss is a loss, whether it's 1-0 or 5-0. It's three points taken by someone else and, in this case, by the better team.
A fun fact that might add some cheer to the lives of Dynamo fans: Luke Wilkshire has become the club's most popular player after unveiling his latest tattoo of the club's name at Dynamo's meet-and-greet session.