On October 24, 2022, the Sochi football club suffered the biggest defeat in its history, losing to Zenit with a score of 0: 7. This defeat unleashed the already high-profile rumors about the dismissal of head coach Vadim Garanin. However, I will try to explain why he does not deserve it.
Why can they get fired?
The loss to Zenit was not the only reason for the rumors, but the story starts from afar, almost from the very beginning of the season. The team got off to a great start on it, winning three games in the opening four rounds, but then came a series of unpleasant results, including a loss to Spartak (0: 3), a draw with Rostov (2: 2), and a loss to Ural ( 0:2) with Krasnodar (1:2).
At the moment, Sochi has won only two victories in the last seven rounds of the RPL and played one draw with four defeats. The result is not the worst, but not for the silver medalist of last season. Even if we compare the schedule of the previous season, Sochi did not get seven points, which is a lot if the team wants to fight for the highest places.
Why did the results get worse?
Sochi was built for 2.5 years under the requirements of Vladimir Fedotov, so even with this in mind, it would be foolish to expect an instant result from the new head coach, who just took over the team. In addition, several key players left with the former coach: Rodrigao, Mateo Cassier (both Zenit), Ivelin Popov (Levski), Danila Prokhin (Rostov), Mateo Barach (Wings of the Soviets). All of them played a crucial role in the previous season, so the loss of five players in the starting XI cannot be ignored.
Garanin got newcomers instead, but with all due respect to them, they still fall short of the departed players. For example, Vladislav Sarveli was not bad at Krylya Sovetov, but he still cannot fully close the loss of Cassiera, who scored 14 goals last year.
An important role in the extinction of Sochi was played by the injury of Victorien Angban, who tore his cruciate ligaments in the match against Rostov. Since then, Garanin has not been able to find another player in the line-up who would be able to balance the center of the field, which became a big problem for the tactics of the new coach.
Why can’t Garanin be fired?
Sochi, despite the instability, gives out bright segments that resemble the game of a truly top club. According to Fedotov’s notes, the team continues to play with the 3-4-3 scheme, in which the players try to combine and bring the batter to a 100% position from the penalty area, but the defensive game spoils all the developments.
xG stats show that Sochi creates chances better than Dynamo, Rostov, Krasnodar and many other teams, placing them in sixth place in this indicator. But on the other hand, as I said, the defense allows the opponents too much, which is why Sochi is only in 12th place in terms of allowed chances. And yet, the southern club has earned 20 expected points (xPTS), which is slightly less than Dynamo.
Garanin builds heavy attacking football, which cannot be brought to the ideal in half a season. Moreover, the new coach is trying to implement classic total football, in which the players regularly change positions during the match. For example, this can be perfectly tracked by the movement of Georgy Melkadze, who can be a center forward, a winger and even a central midfielder in one match.
The disadvantage of such a complex puzzle can be called a transition to the defense, or rather, rebuilding during counterattacks of opponents, for which Sochi players are often not ready. This problem was especially clearly exposed by Zenit in that very defeat of the match. Vadim Garanin knows the problem, but consciously goes for it, without deviating from his principles, which sooner or later will bring results. Perhaps the team would have scored much more points, but they are often unlucky: three own goals, a mistake by Dzhanaev against Dynamo, a penalty in the last seconds against Rostov, and so on.
Boris Rotenberg should not fire Garanin. This season can be called intermediate after the unrealistic success of last year, which even Fedotov could not repeat if he had remained in the team. Several transfers and winter camps can change Sochi for the better, and in the spring no one will remember the team’s failures. At the moment, he is squeezing the most out of the rest of the team and those players who were acquired at the last moment in the summer, but not to strengthen, but rather to plug positions. It’s too early to talk about resignation.