The legendary midfielder of Dynamo Kyiv, former head coach of this club and the national team of Ukraine Leonid Buryak, in an exclusive interview with Dynamo.kiev.ua, spoke about the reasons for the recent failures of the White-Blues.
"We are all dependent on one determining factor - on war"
- Lucescu said bluntly that Dynamo is in a crisis right now. What do you think are its reasons?
— The crisis began with the pandemic. And this crisis continues to this day - the war. All teams are in these conditions, each has its own tasks. Some want to stay in the Premier League. Others want to become a champion. Everyone has their own motivation.
The crisis, in one way or another, has come to each of our teams. Of course, Dynamo and Shakhtar suffered the most. Because these teams left a large number of players. I don't know the statistics for Shakhtar, but 11 players left Dynamo. And these are the leading performers!
And now the crisis. Because there is not enough performance skills and there are not enough of these players who left. Still, Tsygankov, and Zabarny, and de Pena were the leading players of Dynamo. In this context, many can be listed and there will be about 10-11 of them, I think.
Every team has problems now. But, of course, I don’t like many things from the point of view of the Dynamo game itself. For example, I don't like that with the same "Ingulets" we play with one striker. And seven people on the defensive! Two defensive players, four defenders, a goalkeeper - this is, consider, seven people on the defensive.
- You said that the main problem is still the loss of performers and the current situation with personnel. Was it a mistake in connection with this to release Tsygankov and Zabarny?
- But we shouldn't refuse to open the way for our football players. And someday these players will return with good luggage. And maybe they will work as coaches. This is a priority. First, you need to help the club, play for a year or two or three, help it solve some problems, and after that you can safely look for a team and leave. Each product has its own price. And if the product has lain for a long time, it has overripe and no one is interested anymore.
If there is an opportunity, there are proposals from clubs, then, of course, this should be guided by. Moreover, for the money that was offered for Tsygankov and Zabarny, of course, they had to be released. But they remain our players. And now we will hope that someday they will return to Ukraine and bring some benefit to our football.
- Now Dynamo has a problem more with the qualifications of the performers or with the organization of the game?
- One cannot underestimate the role of the presence in the team of the performers who determine its game. Why did I, Blokhin, grow rapidly at Dynamo? Because Muntyan, Puzach, Rudakov, Khmelnitsky were nearby. We got lessons every day! And there "fu-fu" didn't work - just like that, you couldn't play in the squad. And it was felt, and everyone understood it.
Now the situation is, of course, different. As we said above, it is a crisis. But no one has given Dynamo so many chances for the youth that Lucescu gives. And now we can say that in Dynamo, and in our championship in general, we observe Ukrainian football in its purest form. Not a single foreigner, not counting particulars.
And by the way, I will raise the question of what kind of foreigners should they be? Each foreigner must be a head or at least half a head stronger than a Ukrainian football player in his position. Only then does it make sense to buy it. And then our football players will reach out to this legionnaire, because he "makes a picture." Remember the legionnaires who played Dynamo at the time. For example, Rincon, Chernat, Leko, Gioane and others. Fans went to such legionnaires.
- Factors that can be called concomitant in the current failures of Dynamo? Perhaps refereeing?
- I would not like to talk specifically about refereeing, but I must admit: what kind of football we have now, refereeing is the same. There are also no qualifications.
The Ukrainian judiciary has always been at the highest level. Our referees have worked at the world championships, and at the European championships, and in European clubs. Remember the same Miroslav Stupar.
But what is taking place now is not refereeing. Because there are a lot of mistakes! Take the same match between Dynamo and Ingulets, which was judged by Monzul. Both goals against Dynamo were scored after clean fouls. In the first case, the person played with his hand, in the second, he pushed the opponent in the back. These are indeed contributing factors. But first of all, it is a clear demonstration of the lack of qualifications of our judges.
Now, in this field, our well-known referee Sergey Tatulyan often calls me after this or that match. And he asks one question: "Well, did I work badly?" Now it’s just not clear why judges get paid at all? We even have no judges, one might say.
Among other related factors, it is necessary to take into account the preparation of the team in the off-season. Lucescu had Brazilians at Shakhtar. And, of course, they didn't need all this running around. The Brazilians get into shape very quickly: they arrived from the training camp and immediately "ring".
And now there is a problem with this. Yes, the youth have a high potential in Dynamo, it's true. But they are not ready yet! They will not lead the team behind them. And they will never make a result. Next to such youth, there must be qualified, experienced football players who will lead and achieve the result.
- Fine. We discussed all the reasons, voiced these tasks. And how to solve it? What are the ways out of the crisis?
“Everyone wants this decision. And Dynamo, and Shakhtar, and the teams that are in last place. In this situation, we are all dependent on one determining factor - on war. And in this regard, I am amazed by skeptics and so-called specialists who simply sling mud at Ukraine and our football. The war is here! Or have you forgotten about it? Have you forgotten that a year ago Russians were running around Obolon with machine guns? What do you want in general?
How did our youth team play against Luxembourg? Lost. How did Shakhtar play against Feyenoord?
Ukraine has been a football power since time immemorial. No wonder we have as many as three Ballon d'Or winners. But now, for reasons beyond our football's control, everything is falling apart. And I am afraid that over time we will not sink to the level of conditional Moldova or Tajikistan. Although, with God's help, we still have a generation, we have the backbone of our football, there are those who play outside of Ukraine - the same Zinchenko, Malinovsky, Yarmolenko, Mykolenko. Now it is still possible to push off from this backbone, but this is not enough.
“Dynamo has all problem lines now. Because qualified football players left each line"
— In general, it turns out that the problem has no solution yet...
— What can be done? While rockets are flying here, while air raid signals are sounding, none of the football players will go to Ukraine. Now in this regard, the conversation is short: “Is there a siren? All goodbye." Got up and left. In these realities, you can't lure anyone here for any money. That is why Shakhtar returned Zubkov, Shved and Rakitskiy.
— By the way, how does the selection service of Dynamo Kyiv work in the current realities?
- In daily mode. But there are three different categories of players here. There are players who do not suit the head coach, there are players who are overpriced, and there are players who simply do not want to come here. But the work goes on without stopping, and the president of the club keeps his finger on the pulse.
But, again, the war factor. It often happens that an agreement has been reached with the footballer himself, but he consults with his family, and that's it - "Thank you, goodbye." And those who agree to go without any reservations categorically do not meet the required level of qualification. Inviting such performers is already some kind of hopelessness.
- What is the most problematic line in Dynamo's game now?
- All lines are problematic. Because qualified football players left each line. Dynamo Kyiv at all times set exceptionally maximum tasks, but with the current selection of performers, it is very, very difficult to solve such tasks. You can see for yourself what matches Dynamo have now. There is nothing but youth, talent and desire. And sometimes it is clear that the guys have no desire either - they are "killed" in tackles and roll their eyes.
It is very important that the team players fight on the field, but this is not what people go to the stadium for. The struggle is, of course, a very important component, but not the dominant one. At this level, without skill it is simply impossible.
I can give you one eloquent example. 1983 year. Muntyan, Troshkin, Matvienko, Rudakov, Onishchenko are finishing their careers. Blokhin, Veremeev, and I remain. Well, in general, a large group of performers are leaving. Key performers! Muntean is Muntean. Zhuravlev, Kaplun, Bal, Yevtushenko come... And we took seventh place in that USSR championship. Parsing, screaming every day.
Here is a tale for you about the performers who make the picture. There are people who carry the piano, and there are people who play it. If everyone wears it, then no one will be interested. And if everyone plays, then it won't be interesting either.
But now there is no one to play at Dynamo. We are still waiting for this or that one to play at the right level. In the meantime, we have what we have: Dynamo Kyiv delivers only two shots per game.
- Under Lobanovsky, what was the minimum number of shots on goal per match?
- Well, sometimes they delivered 28-30 blows. But the minimum is 15.
- Taking into account all the realities, what are the prospects of this Dynamo in the Ukrainian championship? The fight for the championship, second place, third, fourth?..
- I'm not a clairvoyant. I'm just talking about what should be taken for granted the present moment, reality, circumstances. As for the tournament situation, everything is changeable in football. No one will argue that Dynamo could beat both Ingulets and Zorya? And if this happened, the gap from Shakhtar would now be only three points.
And, of course, it will be difficult. Need to chase. And ahead is a difficult match with Lviv on its field, which also needs points.
"Dynamo football players sympathize with both Lucescu and his training process"
— Has Lucescu exhausted himself in this Dynamo? What is the probability that he will leave after the end of the season?
— Well, these questions are definitely not for me. And I don't want to touch on these issues. What's the point if we talk now about who will leave or not leave. These questions are for the president of the club, for the people who make the appropriate decisions.
But it is important to understand that for a team to be left without a coach in the middle of the season is a very difficult situation. In addition, it should be taken into account that Lucescu is supported by many club leaders, and the team's players sympathize with him and his training process.
Moreover, right now only Lucescu can figure it out. From the outside, it’s impossible to understand what exactly the team did wrong in this or that match - for this you need to know the coach’s attitude to the game, to be at the team’s training. And from the outside, one can only say what I have already said many times: the team needs two or three players, from whom it will be possible to push off in the game. Well, you can’t play “in blood” all the time, in tackles, constantly “kill yourself” on the field. Not only is it inefficient, but it’s also not interesting to anyone - no one wants to watch such football.
Dynamo has always been distinguished by aggressiveness in the game. And starting with Solovyov, Maslov, Lobanovsky, apart from the first place and a spectacular game, Dynamo had nothing in its tasks and goals. The club president understands everything perfectly and is concerned about how to create a competitive team. But now we all have such a reality that it is incredibly difficult to solve this problem.
- Is there any hope that the summer off-season will bring some improvements?
- We have run very far. But in any case, very much, if not all, will continue to depend on one factor - the war. Until the war stops, none of the quality football players will come to us, and no one will be able to do anything about it.
I will not name the last name and the possible amount of the transfer, but there was such an example. Negotiations were successfully held, a potential newcomer arrived. The air raid siren howled, and that's it - he took the bag and left. And what, for example, money can solve in this situation?
Moreover, FIFA has put Ukraine in such a position that now a foreigner, even being on a contract with the club, has the right to leave at any time. And with this, too, no one can do anything yet. But this also does not prevent the so-called "experts" from throwing mud at not only Dynamo, but all of our football.
In general, we should be glad that we now have football itself. And until the war stops, there is no point in waiting for improvements, because there will simply be no reason for this in the current extreme conditions. At the same time, if the current situation drags on, we, I repeat, can easily sink to the level of conditional Moldova or Tajikistan.
Now our clubs are fighting to return to Ukraine their young talents who left the country with their families at the beginning of the war. And now these children, our young talents aged 13-14, have flooded the football academies of European clubs. And now try to pull them back from there. For example, Shakhtar cannot return their young goalkeeper from Borussia Dortmund, whom the Pitmen considered their number one young star.
I was recently in Germany, and I saw with my own eyes: four people in Bayern, four people in Borussia Dortmund. And the same picture in other European countries. Foreign football schools are simply flooded with Ukrainians. They have actually enriched themselves with our football. And this is also a reality.
"The situation with Rotan and his three posts is the result of UAF strategic planning"
- It is impossible not to touch on the topic of the national team. How did you react to the fact that Ruslan Rotan is now coaching three teams at the same time, one of which is the national team of Ukraine? This is fine?
— This, of course, is not normal. Even taking into account the fact that Rotan is really very talented, I don’t know what the UAF was guided by when deciding to have one person train three teams at the same time. Such a result is simply the result of UAF strategic planning.
I remember how I invited Rotan to Dynamo. It was he who insisted that he should be on the team. Rotan was a great football player. And I wish him only the very best in his now coaching career. But will he have enough knowledge and experience to lead three teams at the same time? In all likelihood, his appointment to the national team of Ukraine is, so to speak, a wartime decision.
And at the same time, we still do not know who we are waiting for as the head coach of the Ukrainian national team. Rebrov? They talked and talked, but now it sounds more and more often that he will simply sign a new contract with Al Ain in the summer.
Through the prism of the situation with the national team, one can talk about all Ukrainian football. What happens in the youth team, in the youth team? What football do they play? They play in such a way that the goal is just an extra attribute for them. Our teams don't need gates. That is why the youth team loses to Luxembourg. Well, the match of the national team with England is, in fact, echoes of our championship.
But before, our youth and youth teams have always been winners - since the time of the Union. Yes, already at the adult level there were problems, but at the youth level there were constant successes. And now it's the other way around: we can't win against anyone.
But in order not to end the conversation on a minor note, I would like to thank all the club leaders who, despite the completely extreme situation, continue to do everything to ensure that football continues to exist in our country. Now is the most important thing. And this was the most important thing a year ago: if we had not started the championship, we would have simply completely lost Ukrainian football. No one would be left in any of the age categories. And we must appreciate the fact that we are now talking about the fact that after the end of the war we will have to restore not only cities, but also football. Because if we had not started this season, then now we would be talking about the fact that our football is completely lost and we will not have to restore it, but create it from absolute zero.
And so far we have nothing left but to believe, wait and, of course, endure. And not stoop to sling mud at your own teams, your own football. And sitting on the couch.