UPL PREDICTOR MATCHDAY 5
The UPL has finally begun to return to normality after the first three hectic weeks of the season featuring a solitary draw and no managerial changes. Matchday 4 saw a return to winning ways for Shakhtar with a 4-1 rout against underperforming Vorskla, whilst Dynamo Kyiv and Mariupol’s showdown was rescheduled for 26thof September to better accommodate their midweek European preparations. Arsenal Kyiv succumbed to their fourth successive loss at the hands of the Ukrainian Leicester City, Oleksandriya, high flying, low scoring and no conceding!
Just like London buses, not one but TWO managerial changes came at once in the league this week! Gilmar of FC Lviv left the club as a result of the FFU finding out he did not have the required Pro Licenses to coach in the division. Why this wasn’t thoroughly looked into prior to the start of the season, is anyone’s guess! After talk and supposed official announcements that Volodymyr Mazyar would take over from the Brazilian, Yuriy Bakalov was unveiled as the new FC Lviv manager. This whole debacle was peak UPL soap opera! Across the city, Karpaty also decided to have a change after a relatively mediocre start to the season. Oleh Boychishyn made way for Jose Morais. The Portuguese coach may have experience of working as an assistant to Mourinho at Chelsea, Inter and Real but his solo management career, leaves a lot to be desired. Many are predicting that he definitely won’t make it to the winter break, and Barnsley fans have been particularly vocal in their distaste for the man, after he oversaw their relegation to League One last season.
There were mixed fortunes in Europe for our Ukrainian contingent this week. Dynamo resolutely beat a tough and tenacious Slavia Prague 2-0 at the Olympiyskiy. They ended up 3-1 winners on aggregate and sett up a play off meeting with Ajax for that coveted UCL group stage spot. Mariupol, who already had a mountain to climb against Bordeaux having lost their first leg 3-1 at home, went to France and put up a brave fight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be and they bowed out 5-2 on aggregate. Zorya Luhansk were last up in their tie against Braga. In a game that will go down in their history as one of the biggest in terms of collective team performance, it saw them come from behind twice to draw 2-2 in Portugal and set up a mouthwatering UEL play off tie versus Red Bull Leipzig!
Andrew Todos of Zorya Londonsk Weekly will be making predictions for every UPL game this season, against a variety of guests.
|Max outside Red Bull Arena, NJ|
Our fifth guest of the 2018 – 19 season is Max Meleganich. Max is a Ukrainian living in New York City and currently works in a player/club intermediary role operating in North America and in the Ukrainian market. Max has a long social media history when it comes to Ukrainian football. He started the well followed and highly respected English language Ukrainian football source @FutbolUkraine on Twitter. After a few years of being very active, the account can now be found under the @UkrainianNT handle and has significantly slowed down in its capacity. Commenting on the current situation of the page, Max said “That was a hobby of mine and it was fun running the show while it lasted but after a certain point I outgrew the project and tried to pass it along to some younger and more trustworthy folks within our circle.”
Max is no longer involved but stresses that if there is anyone who would be interested in managing the page then he urges them to get in touch! He points out that “Part of the duties that we all have as English-speaking fans of Ukrainian football is contributing to its marketing, appeal, and advancement in Western Europe and abroad. That was my intention when I started off, and it’s my intention now in the current role I occupy, and it will always be my intention in any future positions I may be working in.”
Max continues in his call for the collective promotion of both the UPL and Ukrainian football in the West by saying “Ultimately what I think will work best if there is some unity amongst the projects to create one hub for the content. Perhaps start a weekly or a monthly podcast in English. I think there is interest in stuff like this. It’s a niche market but there are plenty of us to create the demand and interest.” This is a proposition that Zorya Londonsk would certainly be open to contribute toward and be a part of. Watch this space! Get in touch!
As mentioned briefly in Max’s introduction, he has stepped aside from the social media side of things and has become involved in a sports intermediary role.
In case you’re wondering what this entails, Max explained “Basically what I’ve been attempting to do is sell the Ukrainian Premier League as a market for sourcing players for the MLS. In terms of wage levels and price-for-quality these two markets would 110% find mutual benefit. We all know what happened to the Ukrainian football market after Russia invaded Ukraine – salaries collapsed, clubs are not stable, contracts can be broken. This is where opportunities come up for clubs in MLS, but also other leagues in Europe.”
Max reveals that as there hasn’t been a Ukrainian-import to the North American market yet, there is no way to accurately gauge Ukrainian performance in MLS. “However, we’ve seen what guys who have played in Ukraine, are capable of doing in MLS such as Ex-Metalist Kharkiv player, Sebastian Blanco and Ex-Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder, Ilsinho. These guys are phenomenal players in this league. Unfortunately, because no franchise in MLS has yet taken the first step in recruiting a Ukrainian player, we’re going to have to wait a bit and see what one of our own will look like in this league.”
Attempts at bringing a Ukrainian over have been tried. An example Max provides is that of Andriy Batsula, who recently moved to Kortrijk in Belgium. “Over the past year, and even when he was playing for Zirka Kropivnytskyy, I offered him to MLS clubs who didn’t rate him. What does Kortrijk see in him that MLS doesn’t? I have no way of gauging this disconnect for now. It’s only a matter of time. Deals have gotten close and then collapsed. There is absolutely no reason why directors of football and other front office reps in MLS should be raving about the level of Ekstraklasa, but not realize that right next door, there is a league at least several times better in quality.”
Max continues, “The UPL may well hold an automatic UCL spot, another spot available through qualifying and several Europa League spots but there is still ZERO exposure of Ukrainian football abroad and ZERO marketing of the game abroad. As a result, for some, the UPL still remains a mystery. Even though it shouldn’t be.” Zorya Londonsk agrees with the points made by Max in relation to the serious lacking of marketing strategy by the UPL and FFU outside of Ukraine’s borders.
Max is a Dynamo Kyiv fan and as is custom, we asked him on his thoughts about the club’s current lack of forward options and whether this could become detrimental later on in the season. “I know for a fact the club is working very hard to bring in a player who will come in and immediately produce. However, we have to understand that Dynamo will not spend lavish amounts on a player of this caliber. That’s why finding these gems is going to be a bit harder. I don’t think Supryaha is the player they see to fill this role. They’re working – hopefully they will remain open-minded and consider non-standard leagues when it comes to Dynamo Kyiv recruitment.”
In addition to his own club, we also asked Max for a few of his thoughts on Ukrainian players moving abroad. With Belgium and Turkey seeing a large influx of players from the country, we pondered whether this was a positive for the National Team or whether it was a telltale sign of the UPL’s relative decline? “I think the players going to Belgium are seeking career growth and I personally welcome this. The players who move to Turkey are also looking for career advancement whether it is for the atmosphere or better pay. We have to be happy that our players are sought after in these markets. Especially Belgium. Belgium is an excellent platform to move into the bigger leagues in Western Europe.” However, he is also somewhat disappointed. Max added that he wished the same guys that were performing in Belgium; Malinovskiy and Yaremchuk, had been given greater opportunities to play for their domestic clubs, Dynamo and Shakhtar. “Malinovskiy, at a minimum, had earned his shot after some eye catching performances at Zorya and whilst on loan at Genk, and never got it. “
Keep up to date with Max’s latest work in the intermediary field or if you’re interested in getting involved in helping to run the former @FutbolUkraine account via the links provided below.
MAX’S SOCIAL LINKS:
A correct result (WIN / DRAW/ DEFEAT) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns an extra 40 points.
Arsenal Kyiv v Chornomorets Odesa
Todos’ prediction: I have seriously underestimated Chornomorets so far this season. They’ve grinded out some decent results against their nearest rivals in the table. Here comes another one of those games. Ravanelli is clueless and doesn’t have long left to rectify things. Unfortunately, Arsenal Kyiv will continue to pay for this as a result. 0-1
Max’s prediction: Max is predicting Arsenal to get their first points of the season at home. 2-1
RESULT: 1-1: Maydanevych (26′) / Babenko (35′)
FC Lviv v Shakhtar Donetsk
Todos’ prediction: After all the managerial nonsense of midweek, Shakhtar will have another comfortable walk in the park as Bakalov takes time to settle in at Lviv. 0-3
Max’s prediction: Max envisages a slightly closer affair between the two sides but sees Shakhtar possessing just too much for FC Lviv to handle. 0-2
RESULT: 0-2: Marlos (21′), Bolbat (90′)
Dynamo Kyiv Oleksandriya
Todos’ prediction: The last two UPL sides with 100% records. Both have yet to concede a goal but haven’t been the most prolific when it comes to goal scoring up the other end. As Denys Boyko’s catchphrase goes “No Parasan! (They shall not pass!)” I see neither side conceding. 0-0
Max’s prediction: A narrow win for Dynamo will see them draw level at the UPL summit with Oleksandriya after last week’s postponement. 1-0
RESULT: 1-0: Tsyhankov (68′)
Desna Chernihiv v Karpaty Lviv
Todos’ prediction: Karpaty just can’t seem to close a game out from a dominant position. Morais will not have had a chance yet to have any meaningful (positive or negative) impact on his squad. Desna are similar in the sense they aren’t able to grab a hold of their games. Nobody to take charge. 1-1
Max’s prediction: Max predicts goals galore in this one with Karpaty picking up the same two goals a piece scoreline for a second time this season. 2-2
RESULT: 2-2: Bezborodko (25′), D.Favorov (42′) / Miroshnichenko (58′), Mehmeric (80′)
Zorya Luhansk v Olimpik Donetsk
Todos’ prediction: Zorya will be ecstatic after their midweek European heroics. Despite another fixture coming next Thursday, Olimpik have been far too inconsistent for me this season and my faith in them has weakened. 2-1
Max’s prediction: A narrow win for Zorya will give them all three points. 1-0
Vorskla Poltava v Mariupol
Todos’ prediction: Vorskla have been subpar so far this season. They will look to rectify this in Matchday 5. Mariupol will be tired after travelling back from Bordeaux and then again to Poltava. The win won’t be overtly convincing but Vorskla will get it over the line. 2-0
Max’s prediction: Max foresees Mariupol picking up a point on the road after their European exit in midweek. 1-1
RESULT: 2-1: Kulach (29′), Polohenko OG (88′) / Fomin PEN (21′)
MATCHDAY 5 – H2H WINNER: MAX
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Total scores after week 5
Todos v Guests