The achieved goal does not look in the teeth – Dragan Stojković Pixi managed to lead the Serbian national team to the European Championship after almost two and a half decades (24 years).
It sounded good in theory when Pixi announced three years ago that he would force football to score more goals and that if he had to lose, “it’s better to be 3:4 than 0:1”. In practice, the people didn’t like it when they saw that the price of such football is that you and Cameroon score three goals.
The fact is that the national team has never played like this, or scored so many goals. We have never seen such interesting matches of the “Eagles” before. For infrastructure, but also interesting.
In three years, Pixie was unable to stabilize the defensive game. He changed, experimented, splashed, muddled… He tried for center back Stefan Mitrović, Miloš Veljković, Uroš Spajić, Nemanja Gudelj… In the end, it all came down to the fact that only the tandem of Nikola Milenković – Strahinja Pavlović is reliable, and that whoever gets in between they simply do not inspire confidence.
The essence probably lies in the fact that the defensive trio never had adequate defensive support from the side players. It’s not Pixi’s fault that Kostić and Živković are wing players who were forced to play offensive backs, since we haven’t had real backs for the “A” selection since Kolarov and Ivanovic.
The impression is that Pixi worked with what he had. Did it work best? Well, it is enough to look at the performance of his predecessors Ljubiša Tumbaković and Mladen Krstajić. The answer will impose itself. Could someone else do it better? We’ll probably find out in the summer, when Pixi says goodbye to after the European Championship Alliance.
An alliance in which the president does not know what kind of contract the coach has
The selector announced even before Bulgaria that his contract formally expires on December 31st and that it will most likely not be extended, and that he will receive job offers from January, and will leave the helm after the European Championship. President of the Football Association of Serbia Dragan Džajić is at the opening of the “Kraljevica” stadium in Zaječar to a question from a Danas journalist about Pixi’s status, he answered: “I really don’t know the situation before me, exactly what kind of contract he has.”
The alliance in which the president does not know, and apparently even after almost a year in office, does not want to know what contract the “A” team selector has, sent a clear message to both Pixie and the public.
And what is Pixi’s biggest reach, not counting criticisms of the amount of the contract, tactics, bad management of the selection at the World Cup in Qatar… The biggest success is that he introduced that only the best play in the “A” team again, not agreeing to managerial combinations, wishes the head of the Alliance, the pressures of the powerful from Zvezda, Partizan…
If he had shown a little managerial flexibility, he might have received a new rich contract before the end of these qualifications. But he decided to take the path of resenting the powerhouses of Serbian football – from Zvezdan Terzić to Branislav Nedimović, and the price is not cheap. There is the price of exclusion from the so-called round two of Serbian football. Success, results, any progress has nothing to do with it. You are either in that circle or you are not. Either you are eligible (which means obedient) or you are not. It can’t be a little there, a little here. There is no compromise there.
The list of players for the World Cup in Qatar was the first in the last three and a half decades that literally no one had an objection to. The entire professional and lay public agreed that these are the best footballers that the selector can choose at that moment. Another story is whether it is the best possible result they achieved (although the sad truth is that it is probably the maximum). Otherwise, the list for each Pixie game has become unquestionable, and we have returned to normality, where there is no doubt that the selector chooses only the best.
It is enough to remember the controversy surrounding Krstajić’s list for the World Cup in Russia (2018). There were fewer, but individual dilemmas, regarding the list of Radomir Antic for the World Cup in South Africa (2010). The chaos that arose during Ilija Petković’s time when he invited his son without having played a match in the qualifiers for the WC in Germany (2006) does not need to be particularly reminded. There was also a dilemma about the selection of Slobodan Santrac for France (1998), and even about Ivica Osimo for Italy (1990), because there were not some players who became European club champions a year later.
Pixie leaves, problems remain
Pixi will leave in the summer, and the main question is who will succeed him and what kind of system will be established. Doubts about the future selection of the Association are fully justified if it is known that it is led by political representative Branislav Nedimović as vice-president, while the president plays a figure who has no idea what kind of contract the selector has with him.
Even before Katar, Pixie had seen what a thin leg looked like inside his own house. In the spring, the newly elected party tried to secretly replace even the General Secretary, Jovan Šurbatović, while he was on a business trip. Better results can’t even be expected in an atmosphere where everyone puts a foot on everyone as soon as they turn their backs for a second.
Going to the EURO after 2:2 with Bulgaria in Leskovac is the right measure. For all that the Alliance has been through since the beginning of the Pixie era, from Kokeza, Bjeković, to Nedimović, it is realistically a “full cap”. In popular terms, whoever it’s from – it’s good.
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