Ronaldo No Dynamo for Kiev Boss
- By Rostislav Khotin
- Jan. 15 1998 00:00
KIEV -- Not many coaches would say no to Ronaldo on a free transfer. Valery Lobanovsky, the man behind this season's dramatic resurgence of Dynamo Kiev, is one.
Successive 3-0 and 4-0 wins in the Champions' League over the Brazilian's former club Barcelona made a name for his fellow 21-year-old striker, Dynamo's Andriy Shevchenko. And Lobanovsky would not swap him for the Inter Milan striker.
"Stars block development in soccer. They cost a lot but lack a motivation. They've got everything and need nothing," he said in a rare interview.
For Lobanovsky, an unsmiling taskmaster in the pre-glasnost Soviet mold, hard work and discipline are all about building a "star team," not a team of stars.
"Look at Ronaldo. He's not developing. I watched him once. In the first half he simply stood and waited. Five minutes before the break he scored a goal. But if he hadn't scored, what then? What's the point in having such a star, who doesn't put in any work?" he said of the world player of the year.
Newcastle United coach Kenny Dalglish may have regretted injury kept Alan Shearer out of the team that faced Dynamo Kiev in the Champions' League. But Lobanovsky reckons that he would not have played the England striker anyway.
"What is Shearer? I'm not sure I'd have him in the Dynamo squad," the 58-year-old former Soviet national coach said.
"We made a video of him playing. He touched the ball 10 times, nine of them standing with his back to goal. He didn't get a shot in. He was hopeless," he said. "But he is a star."
Star is a dirty word for Lobanovsky, something that Shevchenko, who has already attracted big money interest from the likes of Manchester United, must bear in mind when he faces Juventus in the European Cup quarterfinals this March.
Fortunately for Shevchenko's place in the team, Lobanovsky sees him as the sort of all-rounder he likes.
"Even if Shevchenko doesn't score, he's a useful team player anyway. That is the future of soccer," he said.
Whether a home-grown side from depressed former Soviet Ukraine can oust the mighty Juventus and show they are the future of European soccer will be seen in March.
But whatever happens, Lobanovsky can look back on a remarkable year,
Dynamo Kiev goes into 1998 as a side few are willing to write off against the Italian champion. Yet just a year ago, the Ukrainians were a forgotten force, whose moments of European glory seemed as firmly fixed in the past as their Cold War heyday.
The difference, is clear. It is Valery Lobanovsky.
The portly tactician, who played up front for Dynamo when it became the first club from outside Moscow to take the Soviet title in 1961 and coached to a first Cup Winners' Cup in 1975, can allow himself a satisfied smile.
There is no record that Lobanovsky has smiled, however, since he returned last year from five years coaching Kuwait's and the United Arab Emirates' national sides.
A reputation for tight discipline was the mark of Lobanovsky the player and has always been the mark of the teams he has run, including the Dynamos of 10 and 20 years ago and the Soviet Union side he led to the 1990 World Cup finals.
It is a discipline and hard work behind the scenes that nonetheless can produce moments of exquisite movement on the pitch. His trademark as a player was the inswinging "banana shot," and he scored direct from dozens of corners but it was a flair honed by hundreds of hours alone on the training ground.
Lobanovsky's public persona is the essentially dour.
"Not a great match," was his immediate verdict on the 4-0 crushing of Barcelona at the Nou Camp.
His latest catchphrase is to warn players, directors and the Ukrainian public to avoid becoming "dizzy with success" -- a pointed borrowing from Soviet leader Josef Stalin, who coined the phrase after millions of Ukrainian peasants died in his land collectivization campaign.
He sees his role as instilling in those players the will to win and drilling them with a passion -- the passion for hard work he developed as a player himself.
"You've got to have motivation. Motivation is the will of the players and coaches to get onto the next, higher level and not stay in the same place," Lobanovsky said. "In modern soccer you've got to work. Success is 90 percent work and just 10 percent talent."
Those who voted Ronaldo the world player of the year might beg to differ. But it is a formula that has brought Lobanovsky such success that opinion polls suggest he could win enough votes in Ukraine to become its next president.
Along with the rest of the Dynamo squad, Lobanovsky recently joined the centrist Social Democratic Party but insists he has no political ambitions. As long as he has a football team to build.