Anatoly Davydov: The coach is never 100% satisfied

The head coach of the Zenit youth side commented on his team’s play after their large victory in Grozny, the current state of team, and also explained one of the reasons why they won by such a high score.

– We recalled all the games we played with Terek in Grozny and in Petersburg, – says Anatoly Davydov. – We talked about how all our matches were real fights. The fact that Terek is at the bottom of the standings doesn’t mean anything about how the team can really play. The Terek youth team is very distinctive, with good individual qualities of their players. The only thing is that their emotions overcome their professional qualities. We played really fast in the first half, and we had really good, sharp, dynamic attacks. I think the first half gave the fans a lot of pleasure. Not in terms of the score, but in terms of the quality of the game, and how the teams led the battle.

– Was there anything in Zenit-Y’s play that didn’t satisfy you?
– We’ll analyze the match a little later. The coach is never 100% satisfied, and there’s always something that the coach can pick on. We’re going to leave that for later. Right now the kids are in a really good mood after playing a very good game in difficult weather conditions. It’s not as hot in St. Petersburg as it is in Grozny, so it was hard to adjust for the game.

– It seemed like the players really showed their manliness in the middle of the first half: they didn’t react to the provocations by their opponents and the referees, and kept their composure. How did you manage to keep the young players from making rash decisions, which are typical of young people?
– I can show you my working journal (smiles). We set our plan for the game based on it. And there’s a lot of space there written about how to do what you just talked about. We knew that our players would be provoked, and planned to deal with it right from the very beginning. We had to show clean football, and not fight against the referees, and that’s what our players did. I’ll deal with the referees. In the end the sideline referee can’t physically keep his flag raised all the time, stopping the runs made by our players. And any referee, like any person, can make mistakes.

– What did you talk about with the team at halftime?
– I asked the guys to concentrate, to take fewer risks, to be more precise in several aspects of the game. I asked them to control the ball better so that there would be fewer losses of possession. That way we would be able to play less defense.

– The players had a short period when they started playing poorly. Was that because the wings they had after scoring the goals folded too quickly? Or was it something else?
– I think it was a lack of oxygen. After 25–30 minutes the guys lost their breath. The weather was a factor, and it seems like the other teams’ players lacked wind too. Our guys were breathing heavily, but they managed to fulfill their responsibilities, and I’m thankful to them for that. But it was clear that the guys had trouble breathing.

– In the episode with the penalty kick, which Kanunnikov both earned and then scored himself, there was one thing that surprised a lot of people. Usually the person who earns the penalty doesn’t take it.
– The score on the board was 4:0, and Maxim had to score again. I talked with him before the previous match about how he has to score more goals, considering how many scoring opportunities he gets. He scored twice at the home game, and here in Grozny he scored one. I wanted him to be successful. Basically, we had two penalty kickers: Sosnin and Matyash. Sosnin was loaned out, and Matyash didn’t score his last penalty kick – probably he had some doubts before he took it. Sometimes, when there’s a high score, you can let the one who earned the penalty take it to increase his goal tally (smiles). Even the greats missed sometimes, like Baresi.

– After such a long flight the boys played quickly, confidently, freely. How did you get them in the right frame of mind?
– Probably the plane got them in the right frame of mind (smiles). I want to say thank you to the club for understanding our needs, and for sending us to a match in such difficult conditions on a charter flight. Big thank you to Maxim Mitrofanov for that. I told the guys that we have no right to lose under those conditions.

– Nevertheless, were you thinking in the second half about how the team's next match would take place in less than a week?
– No, we were thinking about this game. I’m giving the players a day off tomorrow, and we'll have four days until the next match, which is a normal schedule. We'll see how the players look on Tuesday. We’ll hold specific preparations, with a specific work load and intensity, and I’m sure that we’ll be 100% ready for Saturn.