The team have a future

Wednesday, November 23, 2022



Shakhtar head coach Igor Jovicevic summed up the first part of the season after the match against Vorskla (3-2)

– Igor, was the first part of the season successful for new Shakhtar or would you like more?
– What do you think? Taking into account the expectations for Shakhtar this season, ahead of the beginning thereof? If you are talking about the first spot, then you are ambitious and have a positive thinking. And it is very important. But not everybody thinks this way. It was very hard at the beginning: we didn’t even know who will play for us and how the club will exist. But we gathered several performers and started playing and getting up steam during the training camp, the championship and the Champions League. However, we were not among the favourites of the league, we didn’t think that we had enough to compete for the championship. And we were considered absolute outsiders in the Champions League. But we showed the opposite and surprised Europe and the European media in the Champions League with our character, qualities, ambitions of young footballers. We showed that the team have a future. Perhaps what the team are now is more important than what it can be. We showed not only physical and mental strength, but also very high-quality football, the way to play for Ukraine, for ourselves, for Shakhtar. This is one tournament. We took the third spot with the Europa League as a bonus. We lacked quite a bit, perhaps, experience and strength to beat RB Leipzig twice in a row. But there is one more tournament – the Ukrainian League: 30 matches, where you have to demonstrate and prove your maturity and experience. We don’t have it now. There are several experienced footballers, but the core of Shakhtar is young players. This is the category of U21 players, but their quality is so high that they perform at the same level as the national team players in the Ukrainian League where we are competing for the championship. We should give them a credit. This is their first experience at this level where they are Shakhtar's leaders and all play 90 minutes. Mudryk, Sudakov, Bondarenko, Trubin and Bondar are the footballers maybe not so young in terms of their age, but in terms of their careers, this is their first season. And to immediately demand from them to become champions, this criticism at once after defeats, maybe is objective... We demand a lot from ourselves. Playing in Shakhtar means feeling the stress of responsibility. We all understand this and know what FC Shakhtar Donetsk is. So this is a small nuance. You have to pay attention to the pressure, and no one will make any concessions after defeats because you are 19–20 years old or it is your first season. This is not going to happen. It is quite difficult to play in Shakhtar. Only the best go through it and make a result. And we are currently doing it.

– Was it Mudryk's last game for Shakhtar?
– The management will decide what to do when there is an option to sell a footballer, the star of the team. As a coach, of course, I would like such a player to play as long as possible in the team, to build a quality Shakhtar around him, so that everyone gets up steam, gains experience and does what, perhaps, the team once did in the Champions League. I think we could eventually do it together with our efforts, talent and ambition. Again, they are young. There are several players in Dinamo Zagreb, for example, Gvardiol, who plays in RB Leipzig and today played in the World Cup, the Spaniard Dani Olmo, who played in Zagreb. Each of them has played at least 100 matches for the club and only then moved from the intermediate club and not immediately to Barcelona and Manchester City. This is a small example of how to properly build your career so that you reach the highest level already prepared and powerful. To be able to say "I'm here!" and open the door with your feet. However, the coach is always a bit selfish and wants to have quality players in his team as long as possible to give results and excitement to the fans.

– Your colleague did not give a very good opinion about the work of the referees and you suffered a lot from this during the season...
– I don’t know. Last match we played against Dnipro-1 and deservedly conceded. They were mentally better prepared and took three points. And the refereeing was good. So, we can do it. I’m talking about a fresh match and the fact that there were strange things in the previous games – I can see that. We must step it up. We are all improving. As a coach, when I lose, I understand that I have a big margin, that I also have to learn and improve. And if it doesn't change from round to round, then we're talking about bad refereeing. Though, if the conclusions are correct and the committee of referees makes a decision, then it is in favour of Ukrainian football. So you do not think who is responsible for refereeing, that the same person sits on the VAR all the time. Are there no other referees? Then you should think about it and comment on it for the benefit of Ukrainian football. You saw how tough it was today: we sat without electricity in the dressing room for three hours and thought not about how to analyse the tactics, but whether the bomb would fall. So we, all Ukrainian people, have to unite now. Do not criticize each other; do not fire the coach because of defeats. This is war. This is the war in Ukraine. I can't understand it. Why are we divided? They are not separated in Croatia: when there was a war, everyone was the one. 40 million people must now breathe as the one. And I am here with you. And I want you all to think as a whole.