Unravelling the enigma of football in the post-Soviet republics
‘Ark at him.
Mircea Lucescu wasn’t a happy chappie at Shakhtar Donetsk’s open training session ahead of their Vyscha Liga fixture with Vorskla Poltava, even if it was his 200th league match in charge of the Ukrainian champions.
The Romanian was still smarting from that spanking Arsenal gave them last Tuesday. Mostly, this anger was directed at the Norwegian referee in charge that night, Svein Oddvar Moen.
“We have analysed the game," bellowed Lucescu. "Naturally, we did not play our best match. But it is easy to be in Arsenal’s shoes when one is gifted with two goals. Their opener was 100% offside with the Arsenal player more than a yard ahead.”
"Also there should have been no penalty when they scored their third."
"I have enough experience in Europe to be surprised with such refereeing. If games involving English teams are officiated by Scandinavians, the refs' sympathies are always going to be on their side. They share the same Anglo-Saxon culture. Many of their referees are even educated in England."
He continued: “I can not say that Arsenal created so many scoring opportunities. Five goals conceded – it is certainly a lot to us. But again, to some extent, it all started with two serious errors by the referee.
"I am sure the return leg will be quite different,'' said the Romanian. ''I would like our supporters to learn - and put the same kind of pressure on the officials as the Gunners' fans did when that penalty against us was awarded.
"At international level it is very important and this kind of pressure is everywhere. This refers to the big clubs such as FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Chelsea, Arsenal… The teams of eastern Europe should strive towards this way of supporting and our fans should help us with that.”
Put bluntly, Shakhtar simply didn’t perform at the Emirates, but at least attribute being cr*p to something vaguely plausible, Mircea.
He had a readymade excuse in three of his best players missing through injury: Dmytro Chygrynskyy and Douglas Costa were both only fit for the bench, while Fernandinho had his leg broken last month.
NMTB was disappointed. They didn’t do themselves justice and this defeat mentally affected the players, judging by how they transpired to create so few chances during their 1-0 win against Vorskla.
Hopefully they’ll give FC Poltava of Druha Liga a damn good hiding in the cup this week, which should go some way to restoring that confidence. After that, they’ve got just one game – and quite a big one, too – against Juande Ramos’ fourth-placed Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk before Arsene Wenger’s lot arrive in eastern Ukraine.
The open training session wasn’t the end of the matter though, and Mister broached the subject again after the 153rd league victory of his six-year reign.
“We will never get the help which the big clubs receive in European competitions. First, he [the referee] counted the goal from a clear offside and then, before conceding the third goal from the penalty spot, he did not take into account, while awarding a penalty-kick, that both players were pushing each other in the box.
"Moreover, Rosicky hit Kucher in the face with his elbow, Wilshere brutally played against Hübschman. This is an important issue. We posted the visuals on our website - I hope UEFA will turn its attention to what is happening.
"I would also not like Scandinavian referees to officiate matches involving English teams. Perhaps they should be Italians, Spaniards and others. Some might say that I am overcritical concerning the referees’ issue but when such situations arise, one starts wondering.”
See the clipreel on Shakhtar's site
What has appeared on Shakhtar’s website is a video feature entitled: “Arsenal-Shakhtar: moments, thought-provoking,” which is the eagerly awaited sequel to “Deadly moments from the match: Obolon-Shakhtar” that documented the club’s last defeat in September.
See THAT clipreel on Shakhtar's site
In fairness, Fernandinho did have his leg broken in their 1-0 defeat, but nobody died.
Shakhtar can’t play that badly twice, not with a sell-out crowd at the Donbass intimidating the ref, anyway. They haven’t lost at home since 2008 and the last time Arsene Wenger brought his team to Donetsk they were on the end of 3-0 tonking, even if that was a decade ago.
A score draw is the most likely outcome. Another Shakhtar defeat, though, and we might be seeing Mircea post another one of his video nasties.
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