Vadim Furmanov –
After a rare period of managerial stability, Dynamo Kyiv have been forced to make a change. Serhiy Rebrov, who spent three successful seasons at the club, had barely announced his resignation when the Belarusian manager Alyaksandr Khatskevich, himself a former Dynamo legend, was officially appointed the successor. Khatskevich had a glittering career as a midfielder at Dynamo Kyiv from 1996 through 2004 and is a seven-time league champion.
The appointment of Khatskevich, however, has not been met with enthusiasm. Despite his success as a player, his managerial career has been decidedly underwhelming.
After brief spells in charge of the Belarus U-18 side and FC Vitebsk, he in 2010 he joined the coaching staff of Myron Markevych, then managing the Ukraine national team. Khatskevich stayed on as an assistant to Yuriy Kalitvintsev after Markevych quit his position due to a conflict with the federation. However, once Kalitvintsev was sacked and replaced by Oleh Blokhin, Khatskevich found himself unemployed.
Surkis Likes to Keep the Job in the Family
Dynamo president Ihor Surkis, known for his admiration of his club’s former stars, then hired Khatskevich to take over Dynamo’s youth side, which had finished a miserable 14th place in the youth championship before his arrival. Under Khatskevich results improved significantly, and the team finished 8th and 2nd during his two seasons in charge, narrowly losing out to Zorya in the 2012-13 Ukrainian Premier League for reserves and under-19 teams.
Khatskevich then took the helm of Dynamo-2 and led them to a disappointing 14th place finish in the 2013-14 Ukrainian First League. Halfway through the following season, when his side shows visible signs of improvement, he was hired to manage the national team of his native Belarus.
During his two years as the manager of Belarus, his side compiled a record of six victories, six draws, and six defeats. In the most recent world cup qualifying campaign, under Khatskevich Belarus drew against France and Luxembourg and were beaten by the Netherlands and Bulgaria, leaving them with virtually zero chance of qualification. At that point in December of 2016 Khatskevich was given the boot, and he returned to management six months later following the departure of Rebrov from Dynamo.
With little success to speak of, it is unsurprising that the Dynamo supporters have been critical of the appointment, and many have already resigned themselves to another season under the shadow of their powerful rivals Shakhtar Donetsk. Other than his “Dynamo heart”, Khatskevich lacks in solid credentials or accomplishments to lead a club of the stature of Dynamo.
Khatskevich Will Have to Fulfil Some Ambitious Goals
Nevertheless, Surkis has laid out lofty objectives for Khatskevich and his team:
“The goals that now stand before the squad are, above all, qualifying for the group stage of the Champions League, winning the gold medal of the league and cup, primarily to fight for all the trophies that belong in the Dynamo museum. And [Khatskevich] agrees with these goals.”
It ‘s hard to imagine that Surkis himself believes that these objectives are realistic. He told the media that he did not hire a foreign manager because they would want to strengthen the squad with well-known, experienced players. Surkis then stated:
“But today the situation is not one that, from a financial point of view, such steps can be taken… today the primary task is to preserve the team and fighting spirit that were on display during the two championship seasons, so integrate the talented youth players.”
The implications are clear. Khatskevich should not expect much support in the way of transfers and needs to learn to work with what he’s been given. This is a new period of austerity for Dynamo, one to which the club are still adjusting, and Khatskevich has been given the unenviable task of overseeing the transition.
At no point will Surkis or any other Dynamo official admit that second place would be satisfactory, but the superiority of Shakhtar was on full display last season, and few can argue that Dynamo’s squad can compete on equal terms.
Sunday’s Super Cup against Shakhtar will be Khatskevich’s first challenge. While the match itself is little more than a glorified friendly, a victory can set a positive tone for the initial stages of what is sure to be a long and challenging season.
Vadim Furmanov is a recent graduate of the University of Chicago with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Originally from Ukraine, Vadim has resided in Chicago since 1994 and is a passionate supporter of both Dynamo Kyiv and the Ukrainian national team. He is also a Chicago Fire season ticket holder and a member of the Fire’s Section 8 supporters group. He writes primarily about Ukrainian football, as well as the intersection between football, politics, and history. You can follow Vadim on Twitter @vfurmanov.