The GODFATHER of MODELs
There are people in Ukraine who have brought priceless, unsurpassed innovatory
idea into our football. In essence, they are pioneers of a new direction,
new dimension of its development. Below you will find an interview with the
"trail-blazer", the "godfather" of such football notions like "model",
"modelling of training sessions", "coalition", "programming of trainings", etc,
which in 70s had stirred quite a noise in the Soviet Union. His synopses were
used not only by the USSR National Team in preparation to two World Cups but
also by Italian National Team of 1978-82 which became the World Champion-82.
And in a city of Ruit (Germany) it was Franz Bekkenbauer himself who was like
a school student taking notes of this lecturer. This man is
ANATOLI ZELENTSOV, the director of the
Scientific Center of FC Dynamo Kyiv,
the author of tens of books about football, the closest friend of
-- Anatoli, please, tell us how you got acquainted with
I think you are inseparable...
-- We got acquainted when we were young, sometime in 1968. And we are really
inseparable. He once told me in public at some party: "You know, if not for
you, probably, I might have not come off as a coach. I owe you my formation,
my knowledge, skills, understanding and realization of football". These are
-- It happened that Valeri is always a center
of everybody's attention and you are somewhat in the shadow. But as far as
I know, many ideas belong to you.
-- Ideas are good. But most important is to realize them in practice.
Lobanovsky is unsurpassed master of realization
of ideas, and this is the main thing. What's more -- he does it in his own way.
-- Once Volodymyr Bezsonov said that all actions of
Lobanovsky's team are written down well ahead.
As if one shouln't make half a step aside. No improvizations...
-- There is a rational core in these words... All necessary football actions
are planned beforehand. In addition, we faced the problem -- how to discard
all unnecessary during the game, and implement only what is needed right now?
Volodia put it correctly - everything is foreseen, precalculated and brought
-- "Model", "modelling". Were you the first to introduce these notions into
the Modern Football?
-- It was a first move... But many hadn't understood me in the USSR. Some kind
of hysteria has risen. It was horrible. But later, first to apologize was
German Zonin: "Firstly I didn't comprehend what `models' you are talking about.
Now I got it." After him many regained their sight.
-- I was amazed by your book "Modelling of football trainings". Every paragraph
shows how deep you have thought through the theory of management of team
-- This book was censored for a long time. They demanded to remove
"anti-sovietism". Censors din't understand what is "function". Function is
primary, tactics is secondary. I summoned to TsK: "Sorry, but what about the
party tactics? is it secondary?". I said: "Yes, it's secondary".
It was unbearable. I thought they would annihilate me...
In the same book you will find the notion of a "program of training", not
a "plan". These are different things. One may plan e.g. to harvest so much
grain from so much land. This is plan. But program -- it's the nature of a man,
his genetics, which braids with his actions, his work. Program enforces it.
-- How do you evaluate our football from scientific point of view?
-- Our football has bright perspectives. My optimism is built on the nature of
our people. Our people have inherent desire to work, they are born strong. I
think that in 2-3 years our football will reach profound successes. Certainly,
if our goverment won't kill the desire to work hard by its economic policy.
In any case, the trend to better is already explicit.
-- Anatoli, how does your scientific laboratory influences a football team?
-- We evaluate the functional readiness of players and how their potential is
realized. And we influence players in a natural way -- we form them following
scientific recommendations. With the help of modelling we assemble the "bricks"
and create the "sceleton" of the team.
-- But not every player will fit
-- That is true. In our lab we are trying to evaluate the potential of every
player. Moreover, we don't just give coach an advice, we justify it with
numbers. We recommend how to compose the program of trainings, how to evaluate
it, how to understand actions of players on the field... all from the
scientific point of view, no emotions.
-- I guess you have a file on every Dynamo
player, everybody has his own "algorithm". And at a certain time you take info
out of it.
-- It is called the database. We are keeping it now for more than 10 years,
tracing all players -- those who leave the team and those who remain with us.
It doesn't matter for us. We developed different methods of trainings,
different models of games. We have have fast video-database with almost all
tournaments in the world. Strating from them we are trying to predict the
development direction of Modern Football.
-- Catching your words... So what is the direction now?
-- Continous motion of players, collective speed actions of a team, high
individual skills but based on the foundation of collective actions.
-- Following your models the team will prepare itself to the game that
everything will be automatic. Suppose the right defender gets a ball,
the rest - nine players - start moving consciously to their programmed
zones. Not chaotically, but with thought.
-- Exactly... Have you seen how bees fly? A hive is in the air, and someone
is the leader. It turns right and all hive turns right. It turns left and all
hive turns left. The same is in football. There is a leader which takes a
decision to move, say, here. The rest need to correct their motion following
the leader... Every team has players which link "coalitions", every team has
players which destroy them. The first are called to create on the field, the
latter -- to destrcut the team actions of opponent. Not every player can
implement this or that idea. He realizes it depending on his knowledge, skills,
individual imagination. It is very hard to bring it all together and unite with
-- Something else amazes. Your Dynamo-machine practically didn't give ruptures
from 1973 till present. How did you manage to achieve this?
-- Thanx God it all works well. It is always hard to take collective decisions.
It was very hard to create the same view on football, on team work in players.
Have you seen movies about Dynamo circa 1975?
In one of them players gave interviews during tests and each of them, though in
his words, but expressed the same views on football: Rudakov, and
Fomenko, and Troshkin and all others...
-- If one analyzes the work of "new wave" coaches: Fomenko,
Lozynsky, Bezsonov,Demianenko,Blokhin -- one
will see conceptual countours of Lobanovsky...
-- And not only them. All players of the "stardom" 1975 and 1986 yrs who became
coaches: Rudakov, Matvienko, Muntian, Buriak,
Kolotov, Veremeiev, Onyschenko, Chanov,
Mykhailov, Bal, Bezsonov, Baltacha,
Demianenko, Khlus, Troshkin, Konkov,
Zavarov, Yevtushenko, Belanov, are working in the same
direction. These coaches are big perspective of our football. And maybe some
of them will reach world peaks.
-- Anatoli, are there any other centers like yours in Ukraine?
-- Very few. If we had them more it would benefit our football. And due to
limited possibilities we can't help all. We gave some methodical help to
Buriak, Fomenko, FC Dnipro and Nyva Vinnytsia.
-- Many teams, even in the Premier League work the old style.
-- Agree. Who forbids them to create their own labs? Develop your own
concepts, methods. Compete with us. Take our books and knowledge.
There are teams which practice without any plans at all. This shouldn't be
allowed at the present level of football. The coach should decide for himself
what he wants. To what heights he will lead the team, how he will choose the
players. Some players just wait for money. Then the team buys a game, then
a referee and then ... all football.
-- Are there any similiarities between coaches and theatrical directors?
-- At some point in time I was a good friend of the brilliant BDT director
Georgi Tovstonogov. Our first thoughts about modelling of the game appeared
exactly in a theatre. We, with Lobanovsky, used to
come to watch rehearsals in a theatre, to see how the future show is
-- If all coaches worked like "directors" then probably there wouldn't be
those who jump around the field and shout at the players?
-- This is an anomaly. If a coach thought it over carefully, he should
watch the game as if from outside, from a distance, and calmly analyze why
his team game doesn't work, or does.
-- Is the present generation of Dynamo Kyiv
players apt to achieve maximal result on European arena?
-- The main goal at present is to create the working perspective program of
the future team. This can't be solved over night. We need some time. It is
eleventh year of team formation, and it is that defining line which
should be used...