Why do Russian teams fail in European competitions and how to make them smarter. Says the only RPL analyst trainer (p3)
– So, and how is your work during the break?
– Five minutes before the end of the half, I go down to the locker room with the finished episodes. The head coach looks through some fragments with explanations (it is simply impossible for the head coach to understand each episode in five minutes). And he makes all the main decisions.
– That is, the coach comes to the locker room and first of all looks at the fragments you cut with your explanations?
– Yes. At this time, 7-10 minutes, the players come back to their normal state. They come at a specific pulse, emotions, with some damage after half time. In general, more than half of the break is the players’ personal time.
The head coach views episodes, thinks everything over, makes decisions. The next two minutes – showing video clips (about three) and tactical permutations. The remaining three minutes – the players are preparing to enter the field.
– Do you have the opportunity to go to the footballer during the break and tell something without the consent of the head coach?
– No, everything goes through the head coach. The coaching staff is assistants, we are doing work that helps the head coach. Communication with the players and all decisions are not our responsibilities.
– How did you become an analytical coach?
– This is a big, very interesting and long story. But – I promised to tell her in detail to another journalist.
– Oke-ee-ee. And if in several sentences?
– The starting point was 2006 – an internship at Inter. Before that, I saw myself only as a coach. But once I got there, I realized that it is information support (just the work of the analyst) that most strongly affects the tactical work of the team.
Then I looked at how many people in Russia are engaged in such work. I found only one person – it was Vladimir Kulaev, at that time an analyst with Spartak-Nalchik. The head coach of the team then was Yuri Krasnozhan.
I worked at that time in UralGUFK (Ural State Institute of Physical Culture), headed the football department. Prepared future trainers.
And he often attended training sessions of the Urals, then Alexander Pobegalov was the head coach of the team. And we often talked with him. I told him that European clubs pay a lot of attention to information support. He became interested, he said: “Let’s try.” And then, in 2008, I got into the main team of Ural.
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– What was your education at that time?
– In 2004, in Moscow, I graduated from the high school of trainers with honors. Then, in order to enter there, one had to have an education, come to exams and unlearn three years. And according to the results of training to defend the qualification work. There was a long and high-quality training, as I believe.
– And the last one, very briefly so as not to take away material from another journalist: what role did European internships after Inter play?
– There is a separate and very big story. But in my formation it is important to note Vladimir Fedotov, who is now training Sochi. And it is important to mention our president, Grigory Ivanov. What I am doing now at such a level is entirely his merit.
It was 2017, and we missed a lot after the break. And I offered Ivanov this option – operational management with video and digital confirmation of programs. Grigory Viktorovich became interested and said that we would have all this. And since March 2018, we have been using video analysis during the break. And for the second year in a row we are the best in the championship in the interval from 45 to 60 minutes.
– Why before that everything was bad if you were already in the club?
– I was engaged only in the pre-match analysis of rivals. And then we, it’s just a fact, were the league leaders in the starting 15 minutes. And during the break there were mostly encouraging words and a minimum of tactical permutations.
– Look, I do not have any sports education. But there is a great desire to work in football and a basic understanding of the game. Can I become an analyst?
– The analyst is engaged in pre-match analysis, which has three components: statistical calculation; analysis of game episodes where you need to recognize tactical nuances; episodes of an individual game of football players.
I do everything alone. Therefore, you have to sacrifice something. Usually parsing workouts. Or some small individual actions of rivals, which are also important, but which do not have time.
For example, I accept you to work in the analytical department. But if you have an analytical mindset and an understanding of football, the statistics I trust you without question is the simplest of what I do. But be prepared that working as an analyst is not as interesting as it seems. This is a routine. A constant, huge routine that does not end. And no one will pay you a lot of money. And the main encouragement is my “well done” for the weekly work with numbers.
– So, I work with statistics. You praise me, I succeed. I want to do things more seriously. What’s next?
– To the academy of coaching skills. And there you just get a trainer license if you surrender everything. And they will tell you – suggest how you will train. You will show your exercises. They will ask you – why? You will tell.
And there will be very, very many such questions that will flow into the tasks. And many steps will have to go through, starting with working with children. And with great financial difficulties, as a rule, you will have to meet. This is a long way. It took me eight years – and that’s not much.
– Have you been to Ural all this time?
– Yes, I’ve been here since 1987, from 8 years old. Passed all stages. From player to coach.
– Why didn’t you become a footballer?
– At 17, the third of four menisci broke. They told me – we’ll do the operation, you’ll play in the championship of the region. And I dreamed of the Champions League. And I was 100% sure that I would be a great football player.
But when he realized that they wouldn’t allow injuries, he said no, I’ll go to train. After the eighth grade, I entered the college of physical education. It was the year 1993. I already sorted matches of “Spartak” with “Marseilles” on cassettes.
– You trained Ural youth teams. What are your most famous pupils?
– Yes, already at the age of 18 I recruited guys from 1989 and 1990. The 90-year-old team was strong: Shatov, Abramov and Shisterov (both in futsal now), Chudin plays in Nizhny Novgorod, Yasha Agafonov (now a professional referee), two more pupils Onuchin and Bogomolov work in the system of our club (they train young football players) .
– And how did you get interested in analytics?
– In general, the profession of analytics is very piece-wise. And requiring a lot of passion. I remember when we got NTV +, they showed the coolest episodes of the English tour. And then I began to collect these moments, reviewed and studied – due to what these episodes are created. And even earlier, I collected on tape the successful matches of Russian teams and also pondered over them.
Although there was a football vacuum around. Only the Football weekly came out, where you could read the rosters and reports. This is just a predisposition, one might say, analytical giftedness.
– You are reviewing all the matches, which is filmed by a special camera covering the entire field. The television picture severely limits immersion in tactical details. But can we, ordinary viewers, understand something from it?
– Almost nothing. Television recording is for lovers. The left back is conditionally located with the ball on the flank. We see a maximum of a group of three to four players who are in the ball zone. And nothing more.
On television, we see only the technical aspects of the game – those with the ball. And practically no tactical structure.
– But we can notice how the team was rebuilt during the game? What changes did the coach make?
– Imagine the situation. The team goes out to play with two forwards – she has a clear plan. And one of them is constantly pulled into the midfield to get the ball. This is a gross violation of tactical discipline. And you watch on TV and think: “Here is a handsome man, he receives balls in the depths, well, the coach came up with this.” Or vice versa: “The coach is a fool, he invented the wrong role for the player.”
When you don’t know anything about the coaching before the game, how do you understand anything?
– That is, if I write a tactical text about the match between “Barca” and “Real”, then I’m just doing garbage?
“You can figure out something in general terms, but you can never explain the whole picture to the reader.” Therefore, to be honest, I do not read a single analytical blog. And in general, I rarely watch European football. Because I don’t know what I’m planning to implement teams.
– Blitz! I ask briefly … just kidding. Just the remaining questions. Let’s break some tactical myth. Of your choice.
– Well, for example, that with the ball the team needs to run much more than without the ball. This is a false opinion that teams without a ball get tired less. On the contrary, with the ball you have to be much more gifted functionally.
Because without a ball – you took two steps here, then there. And with the ball, people are constantly moving to promote it. And the ball should not be mistaken at all.
Psychologically, of course, a team without a ball gets tired more. And then – if she is not used to this football. If for her the norm is to play without a ball, then psychologically everything will be in order with her. And her opponent gets tired, who thinks: “Damn it, we have owned it for three minutes now, we should be near the penalty box, but still we are skating in the center.” It psychologically presses him, he takes risks, loses balls, allows a counterattack and misses.
– Where do you get the new info to professionally pump out?
– There is such a closed forum of analysts. There are one or two places from the country. And there are analysts from all over the world – mainly from Europe. And everyone understands that there is nothing to hide, it is necessary to develop an idea.
– Who can be called the father of football analytics in Russia?
– Probably Gadzhi Muslimovich Gadzhiev. In 1983, he published his dissertation “Training of Highly Qualified Football Players Based on the Analysis of the Game”. And it was he who in 1987 entered the coaching staff of the USSR Olympic team, which was coached by Byshovets.
Then our team received the last title – they defeated the Brazilians in the final and won gold medals. Gadzhiev’s duties, he said, included: analyzing the upcoming opponent, studying the team actions of his team and delivering all the information in which he was competent to the head coach.
He is the founder of this profession. Unfortunately, then in Russia the social situation did not allow developing this direction – the country was rebuilt. And as if it’s still being rebuilt so that in the RPL there is only one analytical trainer.