15th November 2021
Daniil had just completed his first-ever round of fixtures at a professional level, as he and the players began preparations to wind down over the winter period. It had been a difficult two month period, with the colder winter weather beginning to kick in, pitches were becoming more and more of a mess.
Daniil knew that keeping the performances ticking over would leave the club in a better position for the Final Stage; where the top 6 from both groups go into a mini-league against each other retaining all points against the other 5 teams from their group. Any slip-ups could lead to heavy punishment.
After the highs of the 4-1 victory against Znamya Noginsk, Peresvet made sure that Daniil was brought back down to earth. Hard. It was a difficult defeat to take, with the hosts scoring in the 2nd minute and managing to get a low block set-up to add to Daniil and Vladivostok’s frustrations. A reaction was the most important thing, and Daniil got one, rebuilding some lost momentum as he prepared the team for a top of the group clash against Dinamo Bryansk.
A moment of madness from Dmitry Pytlev in the 14th minute resulted in a straight red card, and Daniil was immediately under pressure. It became too much to handle. Sacrificing Solomakha upfront for a natural right-back, wasn’t enough as Bryansk scored three in the first half to ensure the game was dead and buried – making amends for their narrow defeat in Vladivostok earlier in the season.
With that over and done with, it was imperative that the players never lost focus of the end goal, hoping that teams in and around the top 6 could take some points off Bryansk as the groups came close to ending. Another toothless performance against Salyut highlighted a lack of chance creation – our 6th 1-0 victory, and 10th fine margin result of the season – prompted Daniil into making a slight tweak to try and throw off his Final Stage opponents:
The team were defensively sound with the current back-four, so Daniil thought it was time to give the wingers a bit more freedom, and the two midfielders a bit more responsibility in the middle of the park. There will be times where the 2 flat banks of 4 will work, but in the short term, this could plug the gaps going forward. For the last couple of games of the opening stage, the tactic worked in cutting teams open, but Daniil didn’t want to read too much into this as only Khimki-M were the only team to reach the Finals.
A strong start to the season and Daniil was delighted with how his team had performed in his opening season. The least amount of goals conceded in the opening 20 games, and the second-most goals scored means there is some work to be done going forward, but with the tactical tweak, this may start to balance itself out. Gordienko and Sikoev were the standout performers with their average match ratings:
Gordienko contributing in almost every single game is utterly impressive, and will certainly be on the radar in trying to keep for another year at the bare minimum. Sikoev came into the action following an injury to Solomakha and hadn’t looked back since netting 4 in 4 starts for the club.
With the opening stage now complete, it was time to see who would make up the final stage, and how damaging our dropped points were going to be:
It was time for Daniil and the squad to go away and enjoy the break, knowing that the hard work starts here as they look to overturn the advantage Bryansk have over Vladivostok…
Although the squad broke away for Christmas, Daniil made a last-minute decision to stick around and oversee a few things before the league resumes. Friendlies had to be pencilled in to get the players back up to speed, transfer targets to be looked and, most importantly, the end of contract shortlist to be looked at for beyond the summer. Only 6 players at the club were tied down on contracts to the summer of 2023, so Daniil knew these coming months were going to be important, both in retention and in recruitment. To kick things off, Daniil ensured that two starters were going to be committing their future to Vladivostok:
Both Nasadyuk and Gordienko had been ever-present for Daniil’s opening 20 games, and their fine form was rewarded in longer contracts. Although the club was not in a financial position to offer these sorts of deals, Daniil knew that it was a risk worth taking; these two players were good enough for the current level and should the season be successful, would be important in the next rung preparations.
Moving on from the first team, Daniil had the chance to see a brief early assessment of the upcoming youth intake happening in February:
It wasn’t a promising youth intake at all, but with a goalkeeper coming through, it would help with the squad registration rules. Full-back is an area that could always do with the additional cover, so an extra body or two in here wouldn’t be hard to complain about; but the quality of the player was key.
Knowing that quality wasn’t likely to come from the youth intake, Daniil immediately put the feelers out for a couple of positions; he felt weak in the left full-back along with wide right in case anything was to happen to Gordienko or he had to play elsewhere
Both Bogdan and Dmitry come in from the same level of football; Bogdan previously played with Kminki-M the previous season, whereas Dmitry played for Rodina-M in the Moscow group of the third tier. Dmitry had clocked up 22 appearances for Rodina-M this season, averaging out a 6.89 rating, but most importantly, was part of a team that was in 3rd place (they were predicted to finish 12th) and the 4th best team for goals conceded. Statistics that bode well for the Vladivostok fans. Although he is not great offensively, Daniil believes he has the potential to develop the more intricate parts of his game and become a solid defensive player in the months to come.
Just before the games commenced, the final distraction was out the way as the youth intake report landed on Daniil’s desk. Not as worrying as initial signs pointed towards, but there are four players Daniil could utilise in some fashion in the future:
Alexandr looks streets ahead of his fellow youngsters for his age, but the low determination is off-putting. Perhaps one to do a quick job and then move on? However, it was a rather undetermined group coming through this year, much to Daniil’s disappointment.
Focusing back onto the matters on the park and where it matters the most, Daniil had to try and refocus the players on the toughest run of the season. The final stage. With the opener against Group 2 winners Sokol, it was always going to be a difficult start.
Valeriy Solomakha rose to the occasion not once but twice within a minute of each other to see off Sokol, as Daniil’s side recorded their first win of the finals. Frustratingly, Dinamo Bryansk saw off a late push from Rodina to ensure they kept the gap to 5.
Daniil then lost ground on the title race, slipping up away to Rodina, who was starting to put a bit of pressure on both Vladivostok and Bryansk. And then Vladivostok seemed to struggle for any sort of form or momentum – a late push against Avangard Kursk saved the side from embarrassment, whilst keeping slim title aspirations.
The biggest result of this stage had to be dishing out revenge on Rodina at home – edging out that 2-1 win could be vital mentally for the players. But there was more to it than the mental side.
Bryansk and Rodina both slipped up over the last couple of games to hand over fate. And Daniil knew what was required of the players. A 2 & 3 point gap respectively with 2 games left to play – a 94-minute winner for Bryansk retained little faith whereas Rodina had to fight from 2-1 down to draw their game against Salyut. In the final two games, Vladivostok play 9th & 10th, Bryansk plays 10th & 8th, and Rodina plays 6th & 5th. An exciting week in Russia’s tier 3. It was going to the wire.
14th May 2022
Daniil was sat in the Trudovye Rezeryv changing rooms, piecing together a plan that would see Vladivostok leave with 3 points and full control of their destiny in front of their own fans. Kirillov was sent off in the previous match meaning a slot opened up behind Sikoev. Legs were beginning to tire with the distance travelled and the intensity of the games involved. It was ultimately the last push. Could they do it?
Belunov was recalled by Daniil to the first team in place of Kirillov as the team went out to do the business on the park. Daniil was pacing the technical area from the first whistle, even a 16th-minute goal from Sikoev wasn’t enough to settle his nerves. Vladivostok controlled the first half but never created many clear cut chances, leaving the game on the edge. Kalugin made it 2 early in the second half and Daniil could finally relax a little bit until Avangard Kursk threw a spanner in the works on 65 with a goal of their own. To make matters worse, Daniil caught wind of a Bryansk goal to take the lead over Zenit Penza to crank up the pressure. Even more pacing, and nail-biting, Daniil was ready to pull his hair out in search of a goal that would kill the game off. Eventually, the goal came, but it was far later than requested when Belunov bundled the ball over the line in the 94th minute. Vladivostok takes a 3-1 win home, and the league goes to the final day of the season.
20th May 2022
The moment of truth. The final call of the season. It all comes down to these 90 minutes. Hard work and tears have dragged Daniil to this stage in his first season; would it end in sorrow? Or would he be jubilating?
Given the importance of the game, Kirillov walked back into the team following his suspension, and Daniil announces his strongest possible team for his biggest game this season. And the team rose to the occasion – Zenit Penza found themselves 3 down after 25 minutes, and the league was wrapped up. Shilnikov never faced a single shot in the first half, 3 goals to the good, it was done. A fourth was added in the second half as we took the foot of the gas, but the task at hand was done. A title in his first season. Daniil Muravyov was officially on the ladder to success. Look out Football National League – here comes Vladivostok!
A title win on his 21st birthday. It was a beautiful day for the Muravyov family. But the hard work doesn’t end here.
Daniil wants more. He has that title-winning bug now.