#15 – SEASON 6 – FC CHITA

A huge summer awaited Daniil as he let go several fringe players to improve the position of the wage bill and allow for a couple of players to come into the team. A few loanees returned to their parent clubs, with Sergey Gilyazutdinov extending his loan till the end of the new season – a huge bonus for Daniil as strikers are the hardest position to replace.

But with little time to prepare for the new season, Daniil knew that results were going to be the biggest factor for his reputation, and began making plans around the current crop of players whilst looking to strengthen appropriately. Not many players were going to be required, but Daniil made moves for 2 players during the summer window:

Although Daniil was looking to play with wing-backs on either side, Alexandr does not fit the bill in an attacking sense. However, when it comes to doing a job defensively, it was pass-marks and Daniil could sacrifice the attacking intent down the left-hand side to fit him in the side. Alexandr arrives on loan for the season from Rotor, with no financial constraints on the deal, Daniil was delighted to get this one over the line.

Daniil Arsentiev is capable of playing on the right-wing and through the middle as a striker, Daniil knew he was going to offer plenty of options in this team and looked brilliant for this level in Russia. At the young age of 24, there was scope for improvement over the years, and Daniil was over the moon to announce this type of signing to the Chita faithful.

With that being said, Chita’s first game of the new campaign was against Dinamo Barnaul in the first round of the Russian Cup, just over a month after finishing the previous campaign. There wasn’t a great deal of time to work on new ideas on the park with the players, but with the foundations in place over the last six months, Daniil had faith that the core fundamentals would have been picked up by now.


Russian Cup

Daniil knew that this was a winnable game and was prepared to build hopes for a potential cup run. Chita dispatched Barnaul with ease, coasting to a 2-0 victory and were never put under pressure. Their reward? A tie away to Druzba Maikop in the second round, a team predicted to be mid-table in Group 1 of the Football National League 2.

Another guy that Daniil had high hopes for another win to keep their fine form on the go, and on any other day it would have been a comfortable victory. However, a man of the match performance from goalkeeper Yampolskiy of Druzba kept his side in the game and then saved three penalties in the shootout to send his side through to the groups at the expense of Chita. Daniil was infuriated with that performance, as he knew that it was daylight robbery. A nice financial building cup run ends at the second round, but Daniil could now shift full focus onto the league.


Football National League 2 Group 2

A respectable mid-table finish for Chita was predicted by the Russian media, but Daniil wanted to push the title contenders as much as they possibly could. Why compete in football matches, if your ultimate goal was to be a mid-table side? Daniil had his mission decided for him by the journalists and it was time to get down to business.

Coming into the new campaign on the back of 3 wins on the trot, Daniil was confident. The majority of the team that finished last season’s league campaign still remained at the club, which could only be a good sign going forward. Coupled with a favourable opening month of games, Daniil knew that this was the platform required to showcase his team’s full capabilities and that last season, was a blip.

A romping start to the league campaign saw Chita massively improve on their unfortunate last season performance, as they sat 4th in the league only a couple of points off the pace of Zenit-2, Tver and Leningradets. Narrowly being edged out in games against both Zenit-2 and Tver left Daniil feeling optimistic for the second half of games against his fellow group, knowing that a couple of impressive results would stand him in good stead for the final stage of the season.

However, Daniil encouraged his side to an even more impressive second half of the season, recording one defeat in a game where just nothing went his way. The fans were slowly but surely returning back to the Lokomotiv Stadium to watch Chita as a result of the much-improved performances and in anticipation of a huge 2027 for everyone connected to the club. This impressive run of form saw Chita clinch 1st place in Group 2; Daniil knew this meant nothing, but the confidence it would bring to the players was going to be massive after the winter break.


Football National League 2 Group 2 – Finals

After confirming their place for the final stage before the winter break, the players broke away to enjoy their time off whilst Daniil continued working behind the scenes to ensure the playing staff were all prepared for the task at hand when they come back.

Pushing for promotion so early into his Chita career was unexpected of Daniil, but it was a challenge he was going to relish. Dethroning Tom Tomsk at this stage was going to be difficult never mind having to keep an eye on the chasing pack as well.

A difficult final stage opener away to Tom Tomsk meant Daniil and Chita would be chasing their tails from the get-go, as Tom romped to a 3-0 victory. The Chita players needed to lift themselves back off the ground to keep applying pressure, and impressive victories over Yenisey-2 and Khimik Dzerhinsk certainly pointed Chita in the right direction and the gap of 4 was back on.

A late sucker punch from Olimip-Dolgoprudny was the beginning of Daniil’s downfall as their hopes of a shock league title slowly but surely faded away, but consecutive victories over Textilschik Ivanovo and Dinamo-2 Moscow kept the flame burning for another week at the very least when the fixtures reverse and Tom Tomsk visit the Lokomotiv Stadium.

Unfortunately, a last-minute winner from Tom was the start of the dreaded snowball effect for Daniil, and that is the hardest thing to turn around. One bad result led to a poor performance against Knimik Dzerzhinsk, but a win, and Daniil was quietly optimistic that Chita would be able to finish the season strongly.

However, Daniil failed to record a win in May, and from looking comfortable to finish 2nd, Chita recorded a 5th placed finish. A horrendous finish to the season, and Daniil knew that more work was going to be required to take Chita to the next level.

It was a frustrating end to the season for Daniil, both on a personal level and for the club. Although improvements were made in comparison to previous management, Daniil thought this team was capable of going that bit further at the current moment. But it wasn’t to be.

It was going to be a huge summer for Chita and for Daniil. The mind was racing, but he was keen to avoid any rash decisions…

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