In the aftermath of a treble-winning season, Kazan partied for weeks to come. Paraded around as legends, the full team took the chance to soak in the atmosphere and their accomplishments. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a historic season.
Daniil was enjoying the celebrations, but he couldn’t help but overthink the situation at hand. What now? After winning everything available to him domestically with Kazan, and moulding them into a consistent team to challenge for the title and more, he didn’t have much more to accomplish. He was at a crossroads and didn’t know what path to take.
However, that decision became a bit easier for him.
With a new board of directors running the club, the expectations they had in mind did not align with Daniil’s expectations that was agreed with the previous board. Daniil felt that the new board were lacking in ambition, and that was telling given the financial backing he was going to receive for another title defence. It was with a heavy heart that Daniil tendered his resignation from Kazan but he knew fine well that he could hold his head high in his journey to be one of the elite managers in Russia’s history.
3 and a half years of managing Rubin Kazan was ended on a high for Daniil and he was looking forward to taking some time out from the game. Not looking to rush back into management, but would leave his door open for the right opportunity. He wanted a new type of challenge in Russia, perhaps a rebuild – but it had to be with the right club and at the right time for him.
With his newfound freedom, Daniil headed back home to Vladivostok to spend some time with his mother. He had been away from home for 7 years and was long overdue for a catch-up. His rising stock made it difficult for it to be a peaceful visit home, as the media followed like crows to try and get a headline.
The only way Daniil could get away from all of this was to go do some more travelling of his own outside of Russia. He never had the luxury as a kid to visit places, and now with a tidy bank balance and free time, he had the opportunity. Asia was first on the list, taking the opportunity to go south into Japan and then begin his spontaneous holiday from there – he had earned this.
Some journalists were dedicated to their cause; some following Daniil into Asia and reporting rumours that Daniil was looking at potential jobs within the Asian market, but he knew this was nonsense. He knew that he would shake them in due course.
Eventually, Daniil managed to lose his pursuers and he could shut off from the managerial mindset for a while and actually take in football as a fan. He was always going to keep an eye on Kazan to see how they would get on in his absence, would they lose key players and plummet back down the table? Dinamo Moscow did manage to beat Kazan to the title comfortably by 9 points, whilst Zenit got revenge in the Russian Cup by dispatching Kazan in the Semi-Finals. Daniil was bitterly disappointed as a fan that his side couldn’t keep up the momentum, but he did know that the response from Zenit and Dinamo was going to be massive.
As the season curtailed, Daniil made the journey back home knowing that after a year out, the media attention may not be as rife as it had been. The odd journalist was keen to get a headliner from Daniil, but it certainly wasn’t as many as before, and Daniil was able to get that peaceful catch-up with his mother before embarking on yet another adventure. Daniil had decided that he wanted to spend some time in Moscow, before travelling through Europe to clear off sights on his bucket list. He knew the trip to Moscow could open up a can of worms, and attract plenty of media interest, but it was the easiest place to travel into Europe from so it was the price he was willing to pay.
As expected, with it only being a couple of weeks before the new season began, Daniil was being closely followed by the media amid links that he was in the capital for talks with one of the big Moscow teams. Despite his continuous answer of “no comment”, the media would not take it as a hint, and many ran stories that he had actually agreed on a deal in principle with CSKA; the media did look silly when this never materialised come the opening day of the season.
Despite his holiday in Europe, media interest was never going away, and during his 6-month stay in Italy, he was continuously rumoured with a job there in the top flight; touted to be the right replacement for Leonardo Bonucci at Fiorentina. Daniil wasn’t interested in dipping his toes in different European countries. He was loyal to his country and wanted to ensure that Russia would be on the up. But the links were flattering. And he was missing the dugout.
Moving away from Italy and travelling into Germany for the foreseeable future, Daniil was going to keep close tabs on team performances in the top-flight as the 2033/34 season kicked off, knowing that he was ready to get back into management. But Daniil was determined he wouldn’t just take a job for the sake of it.
November 2nd 2033
As Daniil was walking around the Reichstag, his Apple Watch began to vibrate and an unknown number was dialling him. He was puzzled, to begin with, as he hadn’t applied for a job so far, but felt an urge to take the call.
“Good Afternoon Mr Murayvoy, this is Igor Tyurin. I hope this is not a bad time?”
Daniil had no idea who Igor Tyurin was, or why he was phoning.
“Hi, Mr Tyurin. No, just now is fine I think, just a bit taken aback due to the random nature of the call and lack of knowledge as to what this call could be about or who you are.”
“Apologies Mr Murayvoy, we are finding ourselves in strange times as a club and exploring all potential options.”
Daniil managed to establish that he was involved in a club of some sort. Who that club was, Igor was seemingly keeping his cards close to his chest.
“Sorry Mr Tyurin, I am on holiday currently and have not seen anything to suggest strange times for any club in particular, can you elaborate on who you are representing, and why these are strange times?”
“Ah, not a problem. We have not had the best start to the season following our top-half finish last year. As a board, we felt now is the best time to review our options and your name, optimistically might I add, was one that was mentioned. It is strange given that we do still have a manager in charge, but we needed to ensure we had options at the ready, as his recent form has been something to be concerned about. I note you are on holiday right now, but could we continue this conversation face-to-face?”
It was a case of stick or twist. Daniil had no idea who this was or anything. Igor dodged the question once again about what club he was representing. But by the sounds of things, it was a challenge, and the type he was looking for. A team that was struggling to live up to the potential promise. Should he go for it? The flip side of this was the uncertainty behind the team; Daniil had no idea if this was a Premier League club or a lower league team.
“Well without the full facts in place, I must admit I am a bit reluctant to meet unless you can give me more information?”
“Sorry Mr Murayvoy, we are reluctant to give out much more detail as we wouldn’t want this to be leaked to the press. I am sure you can understand our stance on this?”
Daniil could see that point. Not that Daniil would go running to the press, but this was, seemingly, a board that did not know enough about Daniil the person.
“I understand. I am currently in Berlin and would be willing to make arrangements to meet. But can I ask, what makes you think that meeting face-to-face and finding out the details that way, would be any different to just now?”
“We will arrange for a private jet to fly into Berlin-Tegel in about 2 hours and bring you here, would this suit? I will forward all details you require in due course to prepare you – I promise this will answer all questions you may have. As you are probably aware, your profile is something to be inspired about, and we are unwilling to reveal details whilst you are in the public eye, so to speak.”
“I will make arrangements to head back to the apartment and make my way up to the airport, speak to you soon Mr Tyurin.”
“Thanks, Mr Murayvoy, we look forward to meeting you and you have my word – we would not waste your time if we did not feel this was an opportunity that benefitted all parties concerned.”
And just like that, Daniil had landed himself an interview with an unknown club. A bit of a stab in the dark, but Daniil was excited to get back into the world of football, and this mystery interview was going to be the starting point. 2 and a half years out of football, Daniil may have a way back in…
Daniil arrived at Berlin-Tegel and ask security for the name given to him. Immediately he was escorted through the airport in a rush, which prompted prying local media to try and snap a photo for their headlines. It was a strange experience being escorted through a busy airport at the pace he was, but Daniil wasn’t complaining – after all he did manage to avoid all the media and had security guarding him.
Daniil then got onto the tarmac and sure enough, Igor’s private jet was waiting for him. The captain welcomed Daniil on board and handed him an envelope advising that it contained the answers he had for Igor earlier on in the day. Bizarrely, Daniil trusted Igor’s judgement and didn’t feel the need to go reading for answers, but he did in order to prepare himself – he felt Igor ending on that note had meaning to it.
Watermarked confidential, Daniil knew that his new acquaintance wasn’t messing around, and began reading through the material Igor had prepared for Daniil. It was something Daniil was seeking, a job in the top-flight and it certainly sounded like a rebuild. A squad list was detailed, form, facilities, staff, the only thing missing, naturally, was information on the finances. Everything was there for Daniil to know about the job, which he found strange given Igor’s keenness to meet face-to-face.
Daniil could see why Igor and his fellow board members were concerned. After securing 9th last season, the club was sitting 14th with only 2 wins to their name in the current season; winless since the start of August. An ageing and thin squad, Daniil would have a lot of work to do should this meeting go well.
The typical black-out Range Rover was waiting for Daniil at his destination, as he was swooped to the stadium for the face-to-face meeting with Igor. And there was the man himself, delighted to be meeting with what appeared to be his number one target, even though he had a manager at the helm already. Daniil felt a bit uneasy about that fact, but it was nothing to do with him. In actual fact, Daniil had just clocked that the current manager had been sacked whilst he was in the air; he knew that should the outcome work in his favour, it would look sneaky to plenty across the country.
Ushered into the club’s boardroom, Daniil had the chance to speak to Igor about the potential opportunity. Igor kept preaching about building for the future and pushing to become more than just an established Premier League side – something that Daniil was keen to try and accomplish – but the demand to avoid relegation was stressed for the current season. Although the league table looked grimed to those on the outside, Daniil was looking at it thinking there is room for major improvement. Just over half the games remaining in the season, and only 4 points away from leaving the play-off spots, there was reason to be optimistic should the appointment be right.
But something felt off for Daniil. This didn’t feel like an interview, it felt more like a casual conversation about the club’s future. And it was then that Igor sprung the question upon Daniil.
“Tell me Daniil, how would you like to take the reigns here?”
Daniil was a bit stunned in all honesty, with the whole process feeling informal from start to finish. But this was the opportunity he was looking for. This was his ticket back into football.