Andriy Voronin Dundee United

UEFA Europa League Qualifiers, Round 3 - Preview

10:43 AMGoalChatter


FC Dynamo Moscow at Dundee United

After finishing in fourth place last season, Dynamo have made it to the Europa League Qualifiers. In the third round match on August 2nd at 2:45pm (ET), they'll face off against Dundee United, fourth-place finishers in last season's Scottish Premier League. Although it would be quite obvious for a die-hard fan such as myself to cheer on my team this Thursday, I won't be doing so. Perhaps it sounds contradictory for a fan to make such a statement. The club's success has been going downhill since last season, and I may just come off as a fan who goes from club to club depending on who's winning the cup or the championship. That's not the case here; there have been recent changes in Dynamo with which I strongly disagree with. I don't mind the two new additions to the squad, but a few great players have left the team, and then there's the management issue. 

Recent Transfers

Aleksandr Samedov, a talented right-winger who spent 2 years at Dynamo, transferred to FC Lokomotiv Moscow last month. Samedov wanted to remain at Dynamo, but Silkin arranged for his transfer. 

One of the team's biggest losses is definitely Andriy Voronin. For those who are unaware of the situation behind the EPL/Bundesliga star, Voronin spent most of his time on the bench last season. A conflict with the manager caused him to publicly state his desire to leave the club. The main issue was (and still is) Silkin's "my way or the highway" attitude - either stay on the bench and play as a sub when I want you to play, or leave the team. Voronin opted for the latter. Luckily for FC Dynamo, he is only on loan, and for one season (Bundesliga newcomers Fortuna Dusseldorf decided to take him on). The 33-year-old returns to his star-studded roots in Germany, where he started his professional career. Starting at Borussia Monchengladbach, a club that was relegated in the late 90's, Voronin joined FSV Mainz 05. He later played for the likes of FC Koln, Bayer Leverkusen, and Hertha BSC. His most successful years as an attacking midfielder were spent at Mainz and Bayer Leverkusen. Naturally, Voronin chose the Bundesliga over another stint for an RPL team (Lokomotiv Moscow were interested). There are other reasons Voronin will enjoy his return to the Bundesliga. Perhaps the most important will be the fact that Fortuna's manager Norbert Meier invited the then 15-year-old Voronin to train at his youth club in the '90s.

The Newcomers

Gordon Schildenfeld 
Age: 27
Transfer Amount: 2.5 mil. Euro
Position: Defender
National Team: Croatia  
Former Club: Eintracht Frankfurt has already interviewed him on why he chose the RPL instead of staying in the Bundesliga.
Schildenfeld has previously helped one Dynamo team, Dynamo Zagreb, win Croatian league as well as cup titles. He likewise won medals during his stay at Austrian club Sturm Graz. However, his biggest recent contribution has been to the Croatia National Team during Euro 2012. Schildenfeld started all of the games and was never subbed off.

Otman Bakkal
Age: 27
How Acquired: free agent
Position: Attacking Midfielder
National Team: Netherlands
Former Club: *PSV 
Despite being on loan to various Eredivisie clubs, including FC Twente, the 27-year-old's professional career spans only 9 years. However, there's something to be said for a player who won two back-to-back tournaments, including the Eredivisie championship with PSV. He will join fellow ex-PSV player Balazs Dzsudzsak, who was acquired by Dynamo back in January and has been playing since March.

The Managers

Sergei Silkin's win percentage is a meager 48.9%. Under Peter Houston, Dundee have been unbeaten 71.9% of the time. It's not just statistics, though. Since taking over in 2009, Houston followed up on Craig Levein's accomplishments at Dundee. A former assistant to Levein, Houston got the club to third and fourth place finishes, and won their second Scottish Cup in club history. Silkin has failed to produce any silverware for Dynamo. He had the players and the opportunity, but wasted it on personal differences with the players and staff (see: Andriy Voronin and Samedov conflicts). There was also the acquisition of Roman Berezovsky earlier this year, one of the most talented goalkeepers in the league. Berezovsky holds the record for having saved the most penalties in Russia. At his second stint for Dynamo, he's not getting nearly enough playing time, as Silkin prefers to start Anton Shunin, the Russian equivalent of England's catastrophe James. But that's beside the point. If a team's star players desperately seek to leave their club, and the manager transfers players behind their backs, is something amiss? I would think so. A manager that has been criticized both by his players and the official supporters' club, not to mention other Dynamo fans, should not stay with the team.

As in a democratic nation, where the people have the right to lawfully overthrow their ruler if they find that he is leading his country into the depths of the abyss, the players have the right to let the club owners hear their voice. Many a team has simply refused to play a decent game, leading the club to lose consecutive matches in order for the manager to be replaced. It saddens me that Dynamo has to stoop to such things, but if that's what it takes to get the legendary team a good manager, then the team must work together to convince the President. (For a more in-depth analysis on Silkin's negative influence on Dynamo, read my previous article.) 

Champions League/Europa League Records

After being beaten by Celtic 2-0 in the 2009 Champions League, Dynamo lost the Europa League playoffs to CSKA Sofia. Dundee United were runners-up at the Europa League back when it was called the UEFA Cup (1986-87) and were semi-finalists at the Champions League (1983-84). Either way, the Scottish club will be up against a team that hasn't won any silverware since 1995. There's no telling what Houston's team will have in store, and considering the underdog club's rather recent comeback, they'll be determined as ever to succeed.

Dundee United skipper John Daly has revealed his thoughts on the upcoming match, exuding confidence in his teammates' and his coach's abilities. He warned Dynamo to not underestimate Dundee, considering the fact that manager Peter Houston actually flew to witness the team's recent 2-0 loss to RPL champions Zenit. He knows what makes Dynamo tick, and, like Euan McArthur writes, it's important to do one's homework.
I certainly did mine, and I'm ready to watch my team lose if that's what it takes to open the President's eyes and lead us to long-term success under a different manager.

Prediction: Dundee United 3-0 FC Dynamo Moscow

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