Massimo Ugolini: Season was exciting and full of challenges
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Today, May 7, Shakhtar fitness coach Massimo Ugolini marks his 44th birthday. We dialled the number of the Italian specialist to congratulate him, as well as to ask him to share his impressions of the season
- The year was very special! Therefore, first of all, I want to thank all the players for the interesting and eventful season. Of course, we are disappointed with the second spot in the league and not reaching the Europa League final. But I take it philosophically. What is important is the distance covered. And it was very interesting! The team gave their all, they did everything possible to meet the objectives. And we lost not because we were weaker, but because we played all the games away. We set the maximum objectives in three competitions at the same time, despite the fact that several important players had left the team. It was not easy, but now we have a lot of young players who have great potential.
- How did Shakhtar manage to reach the Europa League semi-finals, with so many young players in the squad?
- We should be happy that we have covered such a bright distance. Some very strong teams encountered us. In the Champions League qualification stage we faced Fenerbahce and Rapid. Then there were PSG and Real Madrid in the group stage. That path was very long and full of challenges. In the Europa League our, players time and again proved their character and the will to win. Owing to that, I am even more proud of our team. Viktor Kovalenko stepped it up significantly. Mister did very wisely by fielding him in the starting XI in each game, trying him in different roles, which allowed Viktor to gain experience quickly. When the club let Teixeira go, Kovalenko was fully ready by that time. This is one of the reasons why we managed to advance so far in the Europa League. I would also note the character and teamwork by Maksym Malyshev and Ivan Ordets. The guys are very concerned with Shakhtar, with the result.
- What game has impressed you the most this season?
- Without a doubt, all our games against Dynamo! Sunday's match against the Kyiv side is remembered for the fact that for 90 minutes we attacked, with the players operating in a close-knit manner, helping one another. The Super Cup game was excellent, with Darijo Srna netting a spot kick being the most exciting episode. Besides, he carried his shirt just as a flag after that! I would also mention the Champions League win over Malmo. Without it, we wouldn’t have made it through to the Europa League. And in the spring, during the knockout stage, the team showed character and will to win in every game of the competition.