Duruji Kvareli – 2023 Open Thread
December 2022 / January 2023 – Odds & Ends.
We will continue to hemorrhage money until we promote, which means we have to rely on free transfers for signings. Fortunately, other Georgian clubs are in similarly-dire straits…which means there is an all-out feeding frenzy for talent.
We missed all of our initial targets — experienced players who accepted contracts from clubs higher up the pyramid.
Nevertheless, we’ve managed to sign 4 talented young players, all on a free after their prior contracts expired for one reason or another: Vazha Chelidze, who will step into the XI as our right-sided centerback; Zurab Tabatadze, who will compete for the right wingback position with Bachana Beruchasvili; Giorgi Gvazava, who will start at left wing-back; and, Gia Zhishkariani, who will start as our advanced playmaker.
All told, I’m pleased with our business. I always prefer signing youth players when possible –this group should improve our XI, while retaining potential for growth.
For some reason, rumors are circulating widely about my imminent arrival at Spaeri, who ply their trade in the rarified air of Liga 3. Although the football journalists in Tbilisi need to put in some more effort in their click-bait headlines. Show some creatively, perhaps. Goose Ready To Fly To New Pond is just…sad. Spaeri Look To Pry Goose Loose From ‘Hoose’ is confusing on multiple levels. I Feel The Need For Speed is at least on-brand, even if poorly-sourced given my vehement denial of the rumors.
My favorite though, was the reaction from the Kursha Road Brigade Twitter account, which simply read “HONK HONK MOTHER******S” with a giant photo of a shirtless Luka urinating on a Spaeri home kit.
Of course, I had to like that Tweet. It served the dual purpose of telling Spaeri to **** off, while also ingratiating myself with a drunken gang of shirtless, aspiring football hooligans.
Once again, we face a winner-take-all promotion scenario in the league. I do not expect us to be in that fight, although the media are tipping us to finish 4th and the Board expect a top-half finish.
The favorites are the reserve sides for Torpedo Kutaisi and WIT-Georgia, the latter of which won promotion from the Eastern Zone Group A last year. PK Gori are tipped for a second-successive relegation, after falling out of Liga 3 at the end of 2022.
The campaign will kick off with the Davit Kipiani Cup, in which we’ve drawn…Spaeri, at home. Because of course we did. It’s like Christmas on social media, if Christmas involved hairy, shirtless men threatening extreme violence and a gaggle of geese who’ve been trained to defend the Tsentraluri.
The stage is set. The social media skirmishing is done.
Luka and the boys scared off some teenagers who were spotted near the fortress. No one is sure that they were Spaeri supporters, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
Our pre-season form has been solid, even if we’ve been missing Luka Chikobava and Beka Buriashvili for weeks. Which could explain our leaky defense…even against lower league opponents. They’ve returned for our final friendly, and are reasonably fit.
Of course, Spaeri is a Liga 3 side, who our supporters have been heckling for months…
I’m just glad that local law enforcement stepped in last night when Luka and the Kursha Road Brigade were spotted with shovels and a hose. We don’t need a moat, fellas. Aesthetically, I like the idea. I really do. But the permits alone would be a hellscape of paperwork.
That being said, the “HONK HONK MOTHER******S” tifo is in a class of its own, I must say. As was launching fireworks at the Spaeri keeper during warmups…sure, we’ll likely get fined and I can’t officially “condone” these antics, but I’ll take any advantage we can get.
Yet, despite all the pre-match fireworks — literal and metaphorical — the match is a damp squib. Spaeri have three goals called off for offsides in the second half…and while I do not doubt the linesman’s call, there’s no question that I wonder if Luka and his boys have managed to put their fingers on the scale.
We force extra time. A moral victory, no doubt. But I want the real thing.
Vianney smashes one home in the 106th, leading to another barrage of fireworks. Extra time in our first match of the campaign is a big ask, and Spaeri’s talent shone through in that one, single moment.
We cannot find a way through. Chaos ensues as the final whistle blows. Luka and the lads managed to source their geese after all, and they set out across the field, chasing the Spaeri players to the bus, which is promptly surrounded by the Kursha Road Brigade, who intend to “escort” them out of town.
It is not the result we wanted. But pushing a Liga 3 side to the limit is a statement of intent.
We’re ready for the new campaign, lads. Let’s have at it.
Our first steps in Liga 4 are positive, albeit tentative. As expected, we have the ability to compete at this level. We simply need to be more ruthless. If we can find our stride, we will be in the mix.
Our naivete is exposed in the first match of the month, against Torpedo’s reserves — the favorites for promotion. We outplay them. Control the match. But concede two silly goals over a five-minute period to gift them all three points.
The reality is that we are not that far off the pace. The Torpedo match confirms my suspicions– the same suspicions that I dare not voice aloud. If we sharpen up, we can win this division…
And after we rattle off 4 straight wins, I’m not the only one thinking it. Torpedo’s reserves have only claimed 2 points from their last 3 matches. We sit 4 points clear.
With 20 matches to play, anything can happen. We know that. We must remain focused. We must not let the passions of the moment distract us from the task at hand.
While we start the month on a high, the Board are looking at the continued red ink. We’re well-within the wage budget, but still losing money at a rapid clip. That unused portion of the wage budgt? Gone.
There’s only one thing to do. Win. And, well…promote. So, two things. But really, it’s one thing. See, the other follows from…nevermind. I trust you get the point.
Just in case I hadn’t heard the message, the Board reminds me one week later of our dire financial situation. Fortunately, they haven’t thought to cut off my ability to extend contracts, so I’m working to tie down key players for another year.
In the aftermath of the Board’s warning about imminent administration, the wheels come off. Chelidze was sent off, and we crash to a 2-nil loss away to WIT-Georgia’s reserves.
Shortly before kickoff away to Torpedo’s reserves, word filters through — the Board has secured a loan to keep us afloat, and it sounds like they’ve already started celebrating.
We claim a 2-1 win, to ensure that the celebrations can continue. And celebrate we did, upon returning to Kvareli that night.
We conclude the month with another win, meaning we’re still atop the table. Another night at Giglo’s, perhaps?
June 2023 – European Review.
While the battle in the Georgian lower divisions is no doubt enthralling, there may be a question or two about is going on elsewhere…
In the Champions League, Thomas Tuchel’s PS-****ing-G beat Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid, 3-1 (aet).
Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal beat Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus, 1-nil (aet), in the Europa League.
In the Europa Conference League, Marco Rose’s Gladbach beat Thierry’ Henry’s Monaco, 1-nil.
In the active leagues: Marcelo Bielsa’s Barcelona won their 2nd straight La Liga title; Klippity-Klopp’s Liverpool won their 4th straight Premier League title; Tuchel’s PS-****ing-G won their 6th straight Ligue 1 title; Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan claimed the Serie A title; and Hansi Flick’s Bayern claimed their 11th straight Bundesliga title.
Just when we start to get a little bit…optimistic about our chances, Tbilisi-2016 comes along and disabuses us of any such notion. It was the most one-sided 2-1 loss I’ve experienced since that night I met those blond Aussie twins at the Hofbräuhaus in Munich.
And then, Lokomotivi show up and offer me an interview out of the blue. Thanks, guys. I needed a good laugh.
Alexsandre is — per usual — rather pleased with himself. And — per usual — we need to take everything he says with a grain of salt. But I can’t help but think we might have a keeper, wingback and attacking midfielder in the pipeline.
We end the month with a late collapse against Iberia, meaning we fall 4 points back with 12 matches to play. Since we will play each of our rivals twice, we have ample opportunity to recover. However, dropping points to a team in the relegation zone is not a recipe for promotion.
We’ve hit that portion of the Liga 4 calendar where, until the end of the campaign, we’re only playing every-other-weekend. To maintain our fitness, the lads will play with the U21s or U19s on the “off” weekends.
My assistant has spent the downtime “working on his blog,” on which he explores the “philosophical questions” posed by the Twilight series. At least, that’s how he explained it. At his urging, I went to take a look. That’s 37 seconds of my life that I’ll never get back. Ever. Although it does explain why he described an opposition player as “the Georgian Robert Pattinson” the other week. (I still don’t understand why he rolled his eyes and muttered “that’s so Jacob” the other day, though, when I suggested he study up on Tbilisi-2016’s tactics.)
I can’t wait to be able to hire proper backroom staff.
The table is a lying liar who lies.
While we played 3 matches this month, our promotion rivals only played 1. That 2-point gap at the top is illusory, at best. By the time we face Tbilisi in two weeks’ time, they’ll have made up their two matches in hand. We need a big showing from the lads.
In the week leading up to our showdown with Tbilisi, our promotion rivals managed to beat WIT-Georgia’s reserves, but lost to Torpedo’s reserves. Meaning that we can seize an advantage with a win…and may walk into the match with an advantage due to their tired legs.
It takes some time, and we have a moment of frustration when they score against the run of play right before the half. But our dominance eventually turns into the goals we deserve. And we run away with the match in the dying minutes. 4-1. A comprehensive win.
Followed two weeks later by a stonking 5-1 win away to PK Gori, while Tbilisi stumbles to a draw at Magharoeli. That leaves us 4 points clear with 7 matches to play.
Dare we begin to dream?
They say idle hands are the devil’s playthings. These hands? During our downtime, they’ve been reading Twilight.
It’s dope. I even recorded a v-blog for my assistant’s blog, analyzing the Jacob-Bella-Edward dynamic — which is a subtle, wry take on the “purity” and “too good for this sinful Earth” tropes exemplified in Victorian fiction. It’s hard to explain. Just watch — you’ll see what I mean.
Maybe I should have been more focused on the match against Algeti, and less on Twilight. We concede late, dropping points, allowing Tbilisi to make up ground.
There’s only one thing to do. Carrot versus stick. Reward. Punishment.
I will deny myself the privilege — nay, the honor — of reading Breaking Dawn, until the day we are crowned champions of Liga 4. If there’s anything Stephanie Meyer has taught me, it is that self-sacrifice is a virtue.
More to the point, Twilight is for winners.
I see it all so clearly now. The draw against Algeti was punishment for my hubris — for assuming that I could just blithely read the series, without care or consequence.
My temperance and self-restraint are rewarded with a 4-2 win away to Iberia. 2 points, with 5 matches to play.
October 2023 – Youth Intake.
Alexsandre is quite proud of himself. I’m not so sure that he should be.
If you haven’t read Twilight, you wouldn’t understand.
We put 4 past WIT-Georgia’s reserves in the first match of October, claiming a Liga 4 record for goals scored in the process (the record in the White Group is 56). Tbilisi lose the following day to Iberia, meaning our lead is extended to 5 points, with 4 matches to play.
That modest cushion could prove decisive, given that we still have to face Torpedo’s reserves and Tbilisi.
Another milestone in the middle of the month, as Giorgi Gvazava (our left wingback, signed on a free from Dinamo Zugdidi) is our first player to earn an international youth call-up. Not only that, he bags a goal against San Marino in his debut.
We hold our nerve against Torpedo’s reserves, surviving a challenging month unscathed. We’re three matches away from glory, and could secure the title at home to Tbilisi on Matchday 27.
I’m so close to reading Breaking Dawn, I can almost taste it. Don’t even get me started on the movies…
Magharoeli prove to be an exciting match, but we prevail 5-3. Meaning that we will host Tbilisi with the title on the line.
Luka’s geese are back. Sadly, his shirt is nowhere to be seen, as he and the lads “welcome” our opposition to Kvareli with a barrage of fireworks. Win or draw, we win Liga 4 Red.
And I’ve got a date with a pristine, first edition hardcover of Breaking Dawn. What?! Sometimes you’ve got to treat yourself.
Vazha Ivanishvili breaks the deadlock in the 29th, rising at the near post to meet Shanidze’s well-taken corner. While Luka and the lads “field test” their flare guns at halftime, I recite Jessica’s graduation speech from Twilight, with a few choice edits to make it my own. I don’t think anyone noticed.
[Narrator: They did notice.]
Although the match remained largely one-sided, it took until the 77th minute for us to finally put the visitors to bed, as Ivanishvili tapped home a loose ball following a mad scramble in the goal mouth, after Shanidze whipped in another corner. 2-nil.
As the party moves to Giglo’s, I raise a glass to the players, the Board, my staff, Luka and his Kursha Road Brigade.
We’ve done it. Champions. Promoted for the second consecutive year, to Liga 3.
And I’ve got the best present of all waiting at home. Bella. Sweet, innocent Bella.
December 2023 – Season Review.
Let’s get one thing straight. I do not want to talk about Breaking Dawn. I mean, what a sellout. A cash grab. Plot holes bigger than the sun. And the more you think about it, the worse they are. If Edward’s skin is marble-like and harder than granite, how did they kiss?! If Edward’s bodily fluids are all venomous poison of the most poisonous kind, how did he impregnate Bella?! I just can’t even. ****ing idiot vampire nonsense. I’ve wasted 4 months of my life.
I guess the good thing is that I haven’t embarrassed myself too much. I’m quite certain that my handwritten, letters to Kristen, Robert and Taylor won’t ever see the light of day. (I’m just glad I didn’t spray them with my cologne. That would have been truly embarrassing.)
The final match of the campaign is eminently forgettable. A 2-1 loss away at Algeti.
Looking forward, we have a big task in front of us. Liga 3 is another step up the ladder, albeit one we should be able to make. We pushed those Spaeri ****s to the limit at the start of this campaign, and they finished 3rd in Liga 3, barely missing out on promotion via the playoffs.
Our signings were key. Gia Zhishkariani, in particular, was everything we could have hoped for as a deep-lying targetman in our system — he not only dropped deep in the build-up, allowing players to push past him into space, he led the team in goals scored.
Luka Chikobava once again proved immense at libero, although he isn’t much to look at. I question whether he can hack it at the Liga 3 level…but I had my doubts at the start of this campaign, too. I had no plans to extend his contract, but his performance this year merits consideration. He also does not have an immediate replacement.
In terms of off-season targets, I hope that our improved stature in the game will turn a few heads. We will take improvement wherever we can find it, although our finances ensure that any signings will need to be on a free. Absent finding a player who will immediately step into our 1st XI, my plan is to simply promote youth players to backfill departing senior players.
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 Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave is explained here. Just need to catch up? Each installment in Levan “Goose” Akhobadze’s attempt to take over the football world, starting from the Georgian Regional Leagues, can be accessed through the Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave Archive.