In a surprising move, Shakhtar Donetsk has officially parted ways with their coach Igor Jovicevic after just one season. Jovicevic led the team to success, winning the league title and having a good run in the European Cup. Despite facing challenges, such as rebuilding the team without many legionnaires and dealing with criticism from the Dnepr-1 club, Jovicevic proved himself as a capable coach. He also played a significant role in the development of players like Mudrik, who earned a lucrative transfer to Chelsea. Jovicevic’s departure leaves big shoes to fill for Shakhtar, but his impact on the team will not be forgotten.
At first it was hard to believe, but they talked about it for a long time and continuously, and now it’s official – Shakhtar said goodbye to Igor Jovicevich after a year of work.
The reason is hard to understand now. After all, the Croatian led a team that few people believed in – without legionnaires, with Ukrainians, who did not always play in previous versions of Shakhtar. But he made it a champion and had a good European Cup season.
TV commentator Kirill Krutorogov in an article on FanDay.net recalls the highlights of Igor Jovičević’s only season at the helm of the Pitmen.
It was difficult to part with Dnepr-1, insults and accusations of treason
The fact that De Zerbi will leave Shakhtar with the outbreak of a full-scale war is not news. It was difficult to present the Pitmen with the Ukrainian coach before, and nothing has changed until now. Jovićević seems to be a golden value – a foreigner, a graduate of Real Madrid, working in the structure of Dynamo (Zagreb) and also with the first team, but at the same time integrated into Ukrainian football as much as possible.
At the same time, Igor always showed himself as a Ukrainian patriot, so it was the Croatian who became the first Ukrainian-speaking coach in the history of Shakhtar.
On February 24, Jovicevich worked with Dnepr-1 for almost a year and a half. But at his invitation, Pitmen did not have to pay compensation – they took advantage of FIFA rules, which allow foreign players and coaches to suspend contracts. The Donetsk club itself suffered greatly as a result of this innovation, losing most of its legionnaires without pay.
The emotions of the leadership of Dnepr-1 in this matter were overwhelmed. The club’s honorary president left a comment under Shakhtar’s Facebook post about Jovićević’s appointment: “P####r”. Then comment on this more broadly: “Why did he do that? I do not know. He didn’t tell me anything, he didn’t call me.
Maybe the factor is Darijo Srna. I can confidently say that Jovićević is a traitor, and Shakhtar and its management are the definition of what I called Jovićević on Facebook.”
Shakhtar met the demands of Jovićević’s staff, but the start was not easy
The Croatian player at Shakhtar had to rebuild the team, without many legionnaires gathered in Castro and De Zerbi. Only Lassina Traore agreed to remain in the foreign team.
On the other hand, we can say that Pitmen signed several players under the patronage of the Croat himself: he really wanted to see Totovitsky in Dnipro-1, he worked with Jurasek and Taylor in this team, and with Shved in the Carpathians.
It is interesting that for some reason Totovitsky, by the decision of the coach, almost did not play, the Swede was treated a lot, Djurasek frankly lost the competition and he was already released as a free agent (although a year ago they paid 800 thousand euros), and with Taylor it turned out to be an interesting story.
He did not play for the entire second part of the season, but some conditions of the agreement with PAOK were fulfilled, which is why Shakhtar had to buy the player’s contract, which the club and the team did not need.
The beginning of Jovićević’s work with Shakhtar turned out to be difficult – a defeat against Ajax, a defeat against Roma in a charity match, a very unconvincing game against the most statusless opponent in the training camp, and the maximum fear of the fans before the start of the championship season and, especially, the Champions League- Champion.
A goalless draw in the opening round of the UPL with Metalist 1925 and minimal stretch wins over Kryvbas and Rukh only reinforced this impression…
A great evening in Germany and a reassessment of the possibilities
… And then there was the start in the Champions League with Leipzig and a great 3-1 victory over the strong representatives of the Bundesliga. A beautiful win on the counter attack, where the team looked organized and the players knew what was required of them.
Moreover, already after the first match, a contrast was formed – De Zerbi, with a tough legionnaire, did not care to get a single victory in the group of the main European championship and ended up in last place with two points. The draw with Celtic (1:1) strengthened Jovićević’s faith as much as possible. And, apparently, every successful decision improves the climate in the team significantly.
Moreover, every time Yovi put on a great performance, strengthening the unity, and at the same time, the fans’ love for him, shouting various chants, singing Shakhtar songs. Moreover, all this is in Ukrainian!
A deserved defeat from Real Madrid (1:2) and a draw with Madrid (1:1), and then a victory over Dynamo (3:1) made it possible to dream of leaving the Champions League group, where everyone expected the outsider normal a devastating defeat from the team, and the Premier League championship.
Yes, it was important to beat Celtic on the road, but failed (1:1), and Leipzig avoided being underestimated in the final round and “buried” Pitmen (0:4), but third place and a ticket to the Europa League are also visible like a worthy result that deserves respect.
As well as a beautiful route in the difficult Rennes penalty shootout in LE. Although there was a deviation from Feyenoord (1:7), which allowed the haters to cheer: “Well, finally, what we have been waiting for since the beginning has happened!”.
Influence on Mudrik’s career and income from his sales, as well as excellent personnel baggage
It can be remembered that De Dzerbi began to actively trust Mudrik, but even from the friendly matches in the summer training camp it was clear that Jovicevich planned to build the whole team’s game through him.
Due to his speed and technique, Shakhtar improves the situation in the opponent’s goal and opens up a massive defense, which is also a real weapon for Pitmen against opponents who prefer a more open game model, in particular, in the Champions League.
For half of the championship season, Mudrik provided 7 goals and 6 assists in 12 UPL matches and 3 + 2 in 6 Champions League matches. It seems that if it were not for the excellent performance by Misha, including statistics, there would not have been a transfer to Chelsea for the insane amount of 70+30 million euros.
He is an unmitigated talent and the magnates will certainly try to buy him, but obviously not for a hundred million now.
In addition, Jovićević left Shakhtar, leaving behind an excellent personnel background. Sudakov and Bondarenko grew up and moved to another level, becoming team leaders, leading the game to the end. Kryskiv performed well at the Pitmen level.
Hemp and Cooper added significantly. Zubkov and Shved looked bright at times, but injuries interfered. They, like most of the invited players – Mikhailichenko, Gochoileshvili and Kelsey – quickly integrated and did not get lost.
Jovićević raised the stakes
Despite the fact that Shakhtar went to the winter break in second place, losing to Dnipro-1, it is now the Pitmen who look like the undisputed favorite in the championship race. What ended up happening – Jovicic led the team to Premier League “gold”, winning his first trophy in his coaching career.
- Read also: Yarmolenko is not the last: Konoplyanka, Kharatin, Kovalenko and our other legionnaires who can return to Ukraine from abroad
Whoever is leading the team now, the expectations will not be the same when the Croat comes, because it is now clear that even with such a potential staff, one can win the championship and fight at least for the European spring.
Judging by the reaction of the Pitmen players to the news of his departure from the Croatian coach, the team’s fans, and even his opponents, Jovi deserves to be thanked and respected in just one season at the helm of Shakhtar.