(Courtesy Marichka)

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 Valeri Lobanovsky.

-- Anatoli, please, tell us how you got acquainted with Valeri Lobanovsky? 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 his words...

-- 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 to players.

-- "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 trainings.

-- 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 Dynamo Kyiv?

-- 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 common thought.

-- 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 "modelled".

-- 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...