Daniil was still in his flat in Khabarovsk further enhancing his football knowledge through reading and watching the sport. Continuously keeping tabs on the results across Russia to keep himself informed on club situations, Daniil was starting to miss being away from the dugout and feeling the raw passion from the crowds. He was feeling lonely.

He had an idea of the next city he wanted to manage within, but it was a waiting game at this moment in time. The current manager had only been employed mere weeks before Daniil’s resignation, so unless things went drastically wrong at the start of the new season, he was going to be waiting for a while. 

Days waiting became weeks waiting, and then turned into months waiting. October had crept up on Daniil out of nowhere, and he was still living out the unemployed life. Another weekend of games had passed, more managers received their marching orders but yet Daniil was still waiting on an opportunity with the club he had his eyes on. Not that Daniil was wishing the sack on anyone, it is a terrible time of anyone’s career, but he was watching on with bated breath thinking “I could do better currently”. 

Suddenly, his phone rang. Daniil panicked thinking he had missed some news on this potential club. He nervously answered the call. “Hi is this Mr Murayvoy?” Daniil confirmed it was indeed himself. “Thanks Mr Murayvoy, apologies for the late call but this is Leonid Fedun calling from Spartak Moscow.” Daniil was taken aback and had to take a seat to compose himself. Spartak Moscow were wanting to discuss a job with him? So early on in his career? Daniil refused to believe it, but was determined to remain professional; this was not in his life plan at this stage, but was he ready to begin coaching bigger egos when he struggled in the Premier Division?

“Mr Murayvoy, we would like to fly you into Moscow for a chat concerning the managerial vacancy at the club. I cannot promise you here and now that you are the only candidate that we want to speak to, but we feel your philosophies are a good match for the club. In particular, your commitment of signing first-team players no older than the age of 23.” 

Daniil’s head was spinning at this point, a dream move that would set him for life. But he would be massively out of his depth being in charge of such a prestigious club in Russia at this stage. Daniil felt as though he had to revert back to basics and earn his stripes once more. He was determined to do so and prove to himself that he has what it takes. That success with both Vladivostok and Khabarovsk was not a miracle.

“Thank you for the offer Mr Fedun, however, I don’t feel like this is the correct move for me. I hope you understand that this is nothing personal, I just don’t feel ready for this managerial opportunity as of yet”

“Mr Murayvoy, I completely understand your position, and as much as I would like to reassure you of any reservations, it is not my place to do so. I respect your decision and wish you all the best in the immediate future.”

Daniil was shell-shocked and starting to over-think the situation at hand. Did he do the right thing in rejecting Spartak? It felt right in his gut to do so, but his heart did feel heavy. All Daniil could do now was hope and pray that it would not be an opportunity missed.

Just a couple of days after the Spartak call, Daniil saw news of his Khabarovsk successor, Mikhail Semenov, being relieved of his duties; only to be replaced by his Vladivostok successor a week later. He too had led Vladivostok to glory by winning the Final Stage group. Daniil had a wry smile on his face seeing that news. Could there be competition coming from Vladivostok? All Daniil knew was that he would be looking out for their results that bit more often now.

Finally, there was hope for Daniil in getting back into the game. The club he was keeping an eye on had just sacked their manager who had taken them to the Loser Stage in the FNL-2 Group 2. A bit of a drop for Daniil, but it was back to his roots and more familiar territory. He could lay a marker down here and begin to stabilise the club. He just had to nail this interview stage.

Daniil attended the interview and was offered the job within 24 hours after concluding the meeting. He was delighted to be back in management, albeit much lower down than what he was previously managing in. The board at the interview questioned the motives originally as well, but Daniil persuaded them that his reasons are his own and his record speaks volumes for their potential benefit. 

However, there was a sizeable task at hand here to ensure progress can be made for both parties. The club was £161,839 into their overdraft, with a £500,000 bank loan to be paid back plus interest of £135,000. The club committed to spending just £5,250 a month on the loan meaning it will not be paid off until 2035 – Daniil wanted to ensure he helped out in any way he could.

Because of the financial situation of the club, Daniil had no money to spend on new players and also no money to spend on wages. The board had set aside £5,926 and every penny possible was being used on this. Daniil would have to resort to free loans, but there was no senior affiliate in place – upon requesting it was shot down before Daniil could finish his sentence. 

The playing squad did have room for six more players before reaching the registration ceiling, but with no money to sign players, Danill would only be able to register any players promoted from the youth ranks. In terms of the squad, Daniil did have a good selection of players throughout:

Daniil returned for one final time to his flat in Khabarovsk to pack his things and make the day’s trip back to Chita to set up base. All he could think about on the train was what the future held for him here at Chita, and he began to compare the teams in the Loser Stage alongside him. Chertanovo Moscow was probably the most recognisable name in the group, but Daniil would treat them all with the same respect. At the end of the day, they all appeared to be at a similar stage right now.

There was a job to be done, and with it being the winter break, Daniil was organising Zoom calls with the current coaching staff to plan training for when the players came back. “The hard yards need to be put in from day one” Daniil reiterated. “This club should not be in amongst this group, let’s set a marker now for next season”

Daniil was optimistic. The board were too. Perhaps this was a match made in heaven…

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