Hello and welcome back to another instalment of my journey in Belarus with Torpedo Zhodino. Firstly, I’ll say that the discussed rebrand (again, follow me on Twitter @JLAspey for extra information about this save) of Torpedo Zhodino is on its way for the second season, thanks to the excellent @requestakit. When we left off, I’d discussed the development of my 4-4-2 system, and then my decision to sell my ‘best’ player – by attributes anyway – Andrey Khachaturyan to Al-Ittihad for what will eventually be £69k – not a small amount of money for a club our size. I’m now only three games away from the end of the league season, and before I end the season I thought an update was fitting.
Firstly, the 4-4-2 actually didn’t make it very far past the second update of the save. I started to find it a little bland and predictable, playing very one dimensionally, and actually only being effective against the very top sides such as BATE Borisov. I switched to a 4-1-3-2, which served us quite well for quite a while. We dropped from 3rd to 5th, but then climbed our way back up to 3rd. However, I began to find the 4-1-3-2 rather toothless, playing nice football but not creating as many chances as I’d like. Funnily enough, my use of the tactic with Sampdoria in my network save over on Twitch has also given the same result. Therefore, about 3 games ago (there are only 26 games in a Belarusian Premier League season) I switched to this 4-4-2, and it has worked absolute wonders.
These are our results since the move to the 4-4-2, and we’ve just been incredible. It’s hardly the longest run in the world, but we’ve stopped just scraping by teams to swatting them away like flies. The change really has been astounding. Now Gorodeya, Minsk and Vitebsk aren’t the best teams in the league by any stretch – Gorodeya and Vitebsk are 9th and 5th respectively, wheras Minsk are fighting relegation – but our performances are far improved. A factor in this was also the transfers I made during the transfer window, spending £400k to bring in Vincent Onovo (£195k), Vitaly Stezhko (£195k) and Frane Cirjak (free). Onovo came in as a central midfielder but has been converted to be a centre back, despite his short height (5’7″) and has been paired with Stezhko. Cirjak was originally brought in to be a Mezzala in the 4-1-3-2 but has turned out to be very effective as a WM-A in the 4-4-2. Combined with the excellent performances of Kirill Premudrov, who replaced Khachaturyan in midfield, we’ve taken another massive step up.
As a result, with 3 games to go, we have somehow leaped from 3rd to 2nd to 1st above BATE Borisov, who’ve only won two of their last six league games, dropping down to 3rd. This now puts us in place to control our own destiny, and possibly – somehow – be the first team not called BATE Borisov to win a league title since Shaktre Soligorsk in 2005, and Torpedo haven’t even appeared in the top 3 since the Belarusian league split away from the Soviet Union in 1992. Belarusian football is pretty much Dinamo Mink dominance to BATE Borisov dominance. Despite me saying this, I’m still not convinced that we’re going to win the title, and I think it’s going down to the last day. If I was a betting man, I’d still bet that BATE take the title, but right now we’re in with a chance, and I didn’t think that would be possible at the beginning of the season. We’re going to go with the 4-4-2 until the end of the season, and see what happens.
Welcome to a new section for this save, Petrushevskiy Watch. Catchy, I know. Vitaliy came along in the youth intake this season, despite the summary not exactly filling me with excitement. I don’t think Vitaliy is an incredible prospect, but there are quite a few things that I like about him. Firstly, his mentals are pretty good for a player of his age – 15 leadership and teamwork suggests a future captain – and he has good natural fitness. He’s a technical player and also has good first touch not only for a player his age, but certainly for our league – 13’s are the more elite players in our league. At the moment I have him on a very standard training regime of a Mezzala to increase his stats across the board – I’ve taken full control of his training as a case study that I can revisit now moving forward. Whilst tactics has always been my strength – until recently – on the game as well as signings and transfers, training has always been something that I’ve ignored because I know it’s not my strength. Therefore I thought it would make a good case study to return to every now and then on this save. If you have any opinions/suggestions about how I can help Vitaliy improve the most, then please let me know. Tactically I also need to plan, so that I can tailor his development properly, so that he both fits our system, and our system gets the best out of him.
For now, that’s going to be it for the Torpedo Zhodino save. I may update at the end of the season, or I may just reveal the scores on Twitter. I wouldn’t be against streaming the final three games, but @turntostone_ is the one who organises our streams on his Twitch channel, and I’m entirely clueless. Either way, thank you very much for reading and as always if you have any questions or comments about this save, Belarusian football – I’m learning myself – or Torpedo themselves, please feel free to leave them in the comments section, or contact me via Twitter (@JLAspey). Thank you once again.