With an AMAZING debacle in the second half, Hajduk lost to Lokomotiva 3: 2 last night in the 30th round of the HNL and seriously endangered the chances for second place, which was marked as a priority at the beginning of the season.
It was sad to see Hajduk, one of the two biggest Croatian clubs, play bunker against Lokomotiva in Kranjčevićeva all half and desperately defend the 2: 1 lead. We do not want to diminish the great job that Goran Tomić is doing in Lokomotiva, but the club of Hajduk’s reputation or what is left of it simply must not allow it.
If it was at least an honest bunker, one wouldn’t say anything because the goal justifies the means, and the goal is, as Tudor announced before the game, “playing for the score”. But Hajduk’s bunker was falling apart from minute to minute and it is a real miracle that Lokomotiva did not turn the score around before, given the number of opportunities it created.
Tudor’s experimental defense struggled with Kastrati, Tolic and others, and Hajduk’s coach was in a desperate attempt to save what to save by making two tactical substitutions in the 95th minute of the game before the Lokomotiva corner.
With this move, he probably wanted to steal a few more seconds and thus save what he could save, although no coach of Hajduk should ever allow himself to steal time with tactical changes at 2: 2 in the HNL. As it usually happens, Lokomotiva scored from that corner for a more than deserved victory.
“We should have solved everything in the first half and led 4-0,” Tudor said after the game.
True. It is not his fault that Jairo missed two dead chances in the lead of Hajduk 2: 0 and that the accidental center forward Marin Jakoliš shot five meters over the goal in a clean sheet. But he is guilty that his team disappeared from the field in the second half, and Tudor already has or should have enough experience to know that the game is not played one, but two halves.
Hajduk looked great in the first half and, indeed, should have led by a bigger margin. Lokomotiva failed to develop its recognizable game because it attacked Hajduk’s flanks with too few players, but in the second half Tomić proved to be a great tactician.
Aware of the fact that he will not be able to do much with a game like this, although he reduced it to 1: 2, he did an awful lot at halftime with just one change.
He threw in Gluhaković and forced him and Kastrati to the left side of Hajduk’s defense and his team lost. On the other hand, although laymen like the author of the text saw that Hajduk would sooner or later concede a second goal if they continued to play like that, Tudor stubbornly stuck to his lineup and did not try to change the course of events on the field.
As soon as he came to Hajduk, he announced at the first press conference that his team would play with three players in the back line. His vision initially worked and he won three of the four games, but as soon as stronger opponents came, it was clear that Hajduk was in serious trouble.
It was only a matter of time before Tudor’s Hajduk would “run up” to someone
After three criminal plays against Osijek, Dinamo and Rijeka before the crown, Hajduk won Inter and Istria in the continuation of the championship with a lot of luck. It was only a matter of time before someone would “run”, and Tudor’s stubbornness came to fruition against Varaždin and last night against Lokomotiva.
The wise Samir Toplak destroyed his slow, inert and protracted defense on Poljud, and Goran Tomić defeated him in the same way yesterday. It seems that Tudor did not learn anything from the three games against Osijek, Dinamo and Rijeka before the coronavirus crisis. His defense with three in the back line conceded four goals in those three games, and the attack scored none.
Tudor could have used the crisis to change the system because all these players from Oreščanin and Burić had already played with four in the back line, but Hajduk’s coach still insisted on his idea, for which there are simply no players.
In the meantime, he failed to raise the team even on the psychological level, which was indirectly emphasized by Mijo Caktaš, who said after the defeat by Lokomotiva that the team regularly sinks after receiving a goal. Against Varaždin, they received three, and in Kranjčevićeva three more, a total of seven in the last three games.
Hajduk’s coach did not take responsibility for either of those two defeats, but captain Mijo Caktaš had to do it, otherwise the only constant in Hajduk this season. In the meantime, Tudor has thickened his authority on Eduok, which, on the eve of a very important match and in a situation where there is one (and a half) strikers in the team without a Nigerian, he decided to leave in Split because he was late for breakfast.
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Then it happens to you that Jairo gets injured and Jakoliš has to enter the game, a striker who has received more yellow cards (23) in 123 career games than he has scored (11).
And while Tudor can and must be criticized for stubbornness and enslavement to a system that clearly doesn’t work, at least not with these players, something has to be asked of sports directors and presidents, who took turns at Poljud almost like coaches.
Lokomotiva, Osijek, Rijeka and Gorica have a better vision than Hajduk
Only this season, Hajduk has changed two sports directors, two presidents and three coaches, so it is completely clear that there is no clear sports policy for years.
The theory that Hajduk does not have money for better players does not hold water, for two reasons. The first is that Hajduk entered this season with the second largest budget in the league (110 million kuna), and the second is that Samuel Eduok with 600,000 and Mijo Caktaš with 500,000 euros annual salary are among the highest paid players in the league.
And while all other clubs, not to mention Dinamo, have progressed in every way in recent seasons, Hajduk is in place at best. Lokomotiva turned to the Albanian market, for which it hired a special scout, and filled the team with good, young and promising players for a few hundred thousand euros. Gorica brought Mindaugas Nikoličius to the club, who brings scouts from all over Europe with cheap scouts for the HNL and more than solid players, and both Rijeka and Osijek are a step up in that respect.
During that time, Hajduk was the culprit of managerial games and various other interests in which promising coaches such as Željko Kopić and especially Siniša Oreščanin were executed. Under Oreščanin, Hajduk played likeable football and the Zagreb man was very well organized by the same or similar staff.
He had that embarrassing defeat by Gzire United, after which he probably had to be sacked, but the club with him might have had to take a longer risk. Because Europe would not be played anyway, and Oreščanin would probably catch one of the places leading to Europe with the game that Hajduk showed in all matches except the unfortunate one with Gziro, since Dinamo provided HNL with five European places.
Apart from such a dominant Dinamo, second place is until further notice the only way for Hajduk to smell the elite, even in the form of one or two preliminary rounds of the Champions League.
Hajduk’s second place could remain an unfulfilled dream
But with a series of at least debatable decisions of sports directors, presidents, and especially coaches, Hajduk is going through another difficult and turbulent season, in which at the end of the story it will be a great success if this team is dragged to the mentioned second place.
That may happen in the end, since Hajduk is still only two points away from the second place six rounds before the end, and nothing else, it seems, has been lost. But if we take into account the form of the competitors and the terribly difficult schedule of Hajduk until the end of the season, the second place could only remain a dream.
No matter how the season ends, the fans will again look for answers, and some will have to be given by Marin Brbić and Mario Stanić, who are also responsible for the situation in Hajduk. In a few months, as long as they are there, not much can be done, but the fans can be shown at least some direction. He is currently absent from Hajduk.
The season will end quickly, there will not be too much time to prepare for the new one and the question is how much Hajduk’s team will be able to progress in those conditions. Another change of coach, the fourth in a year, would certainly be wrong, but it is time for the people in Hajduk to start taking responsibility, and not for Mijo Caktaš, the best club scorer of the last two seasons, to be the only one to do so.