Duruji Kvareli – 2022 Open Thread
Before we go too far, let’s quickly take a look around Europe.
No real surprises here, with business as usual for the most part in the active leagues:
Boring. The established order, that we need to disrupt…in time.
After promoting all 7 players from our youth setup, we have 10 players in the squad. We’ve got work to do.
In an effort to be helpful, our Chairman provides us with his breakdown of the team’s strengths and weaknesses.
Not so helpful, Beka. But it’s the thought that counts.
Our finances are as grim as one would expect. My goal is to promote as soon as humanly possible.
A quick word about league structure. The Georgian leagues run within a single calendar year. 10 teams are in each of the top 4 tiers, known as the Erovnuli Liga, Erovnuli Liga 2, Liga 3 and Liga 4.
The Georgian Regional Leagues (5th tier) are comprised of 49 teams, only 2 of which will promote to Liga 4. The 5th tier structured in two-phases. First, clubs contest an initial phase comprised of 5 groups, playing one-off matches against each opponent. The top 4 teams from each group advance to a promotion phase comprised of 2 groups of 10, who play each other home-and-away, with the top team in each group promoting to the 4th tier. The remaining teams fall into a “lower group stage” comprised of 3 separate groups, who play a home-and-away series to determine final placement. There is no relegation from the 5th tier.
As we build the playing squad and backroom staff essentially from scratch, I thought there’d be some interest in seeing the pieces of the puzzle.
Bottom line, we need to promote. We’re signing players and bringing a few in on loan from the 4th tier, but things are grim.
The only good news is that our opposition isn’t any better off.
Meant to include this earlier, as well — our current facilities:
A solid preseason is in the books. Our only loss was to Telavi, an Erovnuli Liga side that should stomp us. So we’ll take that 2-nil loss. We’ll also take the 3-1 win over Liga 3 side Shevardeni Tbilisi.
As we head into the season, our key players appear to be: Mamuka Lobzhanidze, our libero; Ivane Shilakadze, our shadow striker; Gela Labadze, our roaming playmaker; Giorgi Kvekveskiri, our keeper (a loanee); Sergey Andreev, our right wingback (another loanee); and, Mikheil Bregvadze, our regista.
We’ve also sold a massive 30 season tickets.
Who needs champagne football, anyways. We’re playing chacha football.
The first few months of this save remind me of lower league Sweden — once we have a moderately decent squad and/or a decent tactic, we can steamroll our opposition and move up the leagues. From looking at squads in the leagues above us, I genuinely think this team would be competitive in Liga 2 or 3.
Regardless, our near-perfect start to life in Georgia continues.
That aura of invincibility? Shattered.
We were poor, away to Tskhinvali’s reserves. We were then wasteful in front of goal, against Dominati.
The silver lining? We’re the only team to beat Legioni, who sit atop the table. And we’ve already smashed them twice.
Back to our winning ways in May, 4 wins from 4 (including a friendly to ensure our 1st XI remains fresh). We lead the Eastern A regional group in goals scored (20), with fewest conceded (4). The question is whether we can carry this form forward into the promotion stage.
June 2022 – European Review.
Let’s step back for one moment to consider results on the continent…
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool claimed the Champions League title with a 3-2 win over Quique Setien’s Barcelona.
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal claimed the Europa League with a 2-nil win over Senol Gunes’ Chelsea.
In the Europa Conference League, Marcelino’s AC Milan beat Marcelo Bielsa’s Tottenham, 3-nil.
In the active leagues, Setien’s Barcelona won La Liga. Carlo Ancelotti’s Manchester City won the Premier League. Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus won the Serie A. Lucien Favre’s Dortmund won the Bundesliga. And, finally, Thomas Tuchel’s PS-****ing-G won Ligue 1.
Let’s start with our youth intake preview, which is promising. There’s no question that we could use an influx of players.
On the pitch, we finished the initial league phase strong, claiming 3rd place — 2 points behind Tskhinvali’s reserves, having scored a record 30 goals, with only 5 conceded. We also start the promotion phase on the right foot, a 1-nil win giving much credit to the visiting Meshakhte.
The biggest match of the month, however, was the Davit Kipiani Cup 4th Round tie away to Liga 2 Spaeri (Sergey Andreev’s parent club). We lost 3-nil, a scoreline that was kind to our hosts. The bigger news, however, was losing sixteen year-old Zurab Takashvili — our starting right mezzala, who leads the team with 10 assists — for 6-7 weeks. Aleko Tkebuchava will step into the 1st XI, in his place.
Alright, I have to admit, this cracked me up. Our ticket prices: $3 per match, with 30 season ticket holders at $9.01 per season ticket.
The good news is that, it appears we can expand our seating capacity. Since we’re capped at 750 right now (a number we’re nowhere near), we won’t be doing that any time soon. But it is good to know.
A solid run of matches in July puts us at the top of the promotion table, after a 2-nil win at Kvareli Fortress over Tskhinvali’s reserves. Much-needed revenge. Only one team goes up, lads.
We’re flying. Halfway through the promotion phase, we’ve secured 9 wins from 9 matches. 23 goals for, 3 against.
We sit 8 points clear. Our goal is in sight.
We’ve managed to extend the contracts of everyone important through the end of next year, including Giorgi Kvekveskiri‘s loan contract, with Grigol Pochkhua and Sergey Andreev joining on free transfers upon expiration of their contracts.
A big month, as we march onward towards what is looking more and more like promotion to Liga 4. 5 matches to play, 11 points clear. We can clinch in October.
The locals are taking notice, as a record 243 people attend the September 10th match against Alazani Gurjaani. Time to jump on the bandwagon, folks.
Our winning streak comes to an end with a scoreless draw against Didube. We then traveled to Tskinvali’s reserves, who sit in 2nd, 12 points off the pace with 5 to play…a chance to secure promotion for us. A must win for our hosts. We smash them, 3-1. Promotion secured, with 4 matches to play.
The other big news of the month was the arrival of our youth intake.
Keeping in mind that the current/potential ability stars are lying liars who shameless lie to our faces, the best players (in my estimation) seem to be Gela Jishkariani (who will train as a shadow striker), Mirian Modebadze (a pure centerback), Rati Liluashvili (a pure finisher, at this level), Alexsandre Iakobishvili (a keeper), and Nikoloz Modebaze (another centerback).
I went from looking at these players to immediately ask the Board to improve our junior coaching. They laughed. They always laugh when I ask them for things. Perhaps its because we’re still bleeding money, week after week.
I’d like to think that promotion will ease the financial worries…but I suspect that clubs in the Liga 4 are not drowning in cash.
Before our final 2 matches, the Board lets us know that we will, in fact, be rolling in the cash next year, such that we’ll have a $6.25k/week wage budget. (I’m relatively certain that’s lower than urCristiano’s weekly budget for essential oils and avocado toast, but Portuguese law enforcement have been nothing if not extremely clear — his Oiliness’ personal finances are none of my damn business.)
We finish strong, 2 wins from 2. Promotion in the bag. A big year ahead.
2022 Season Review.
Frankly, this was a dream start to the save. Once the first few competitive matches were under our belt, the only real question in my mind was how close things would be in the promotional phase.
We took care of business and, in the process, got a glimpse of life in the leagues above us. I see no reason why this squad cannot compete for promotion next year — Liga 4 is comprised of 10 teams, with everyone playing each other 3 times. Of course, I told the squad that was my expectation, and now they’re all mad at me.
Goals for 2023: Keep the Promotion Train chugging along, and push for a top-2 finish in Liga 4. Get our finances under control, to the extent possible.
Qatar 2022; World Cup Review.
The World Cup was rather…meh. Dieter Hecking and ze Germans beat Renato Gaucho’s 10-man Brazil, 1-nil, in the final:
Roberto Martinez’s Belgium and Jose Mourinho’s Portugal reached the semifinals, but couldn’t make it over the final hump. Beyond that, the exit of Herve Renard’s France during the Group Stage was the only real shock.
God leaned over to the Devil, drew him close and declared, “those who will drink three glasses of chacha may be on my side. After that, they are yours.”
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused, the basic concept behind the Fourth Glass save is explained here. Just need to catch up? Each installment in Giorgi Amirani’s attempt to take over the football world, starting from the Georgian Regional Leagues, can be accessed through the Fourth Glass Archive.