Vladimir Poluyakhtov
FC Orenburg
Today they extract gas, and oil, they sew well-known feather shawls and play football in Orenburg, capital of Orenburg region. Of course, we are interested in the latter option. The team, which was renamed from "Gazovik" to "Orenburg", was an underdog of the Russian Football Premier League by no means. Yes, they did have some success last year (12 points from play-off's games, only 20 conceded goals in 38 matches), but nobody believed, that the team which consisted of some veteran-players (Oyewole, Andreev, Shogenov, Blago Georgiev, Koronov and Vorobjev) and several rented inexperienced youth prospects (Batov, Grigorjev, Efremov), would have a chance to get these comfortable 30 points to avoid relegation. Nevertheless, every team, no matter how bad or mispicked it is, there is always a hero there. A hero, who is responsible for half of a stadium attendance, a player, who is spoken about, and even casters know something about his past. Moreover, in Orenburg Vladimir Poluyakhtov is considered to be this hero according to key sports media in Russia. More and more fans, agents and sports journalists think that some big football club, which has other tasks than avoiding the relegation, will buy him.

Date of birth
Nationality Club
Position
Height
Weight
Shirt number
Transfermarkt cost
11.07.1989
Russia FC Orenburg
Left fullback
180 cm
78 kilos
2
800 th. €
However, basically, what is fullback? Gianluca Vialli thought that "…right defender is the worst player of the team. Strong ones are moved to center, skilled players work in the midfield and left-legged footballers are too rare not to appreciate them". In addition, Simon Cooper, the author of contradictory «Footballnomics» believes, that no one is paying attention to the left defenders.

Vladimir Poluyakhtov being right-legged plays left fullback, and proved to them that he is better than they think, showing off great stats of 3,8 tackles and 2,2 interceptions per game. He is a leader of the league in tackles outracing Andrey Eshchenko (Spartak Moscow, 3 tackles), Mario Fernandes (CSKA, 2,9) and Domenico Criscito (Zenit, 2,8). So we do have an important question: why Vladimir is not in a top-club right now, organizing its defense.

Poluyakhtov began his career as a player of Saturn Ramenskoe, a little town of Moscow region, in 2005, but he played his first official match of RFPL only on 30 June 2016, this season, at the age of 27 years. He gave his best last year, being one of the most decisive players of Orenburg in their champion's run throughout Football National League (Tier-2 league in Russia). However, to my mind, Orenburg was not ready for such progress, despite coaching genius of Orenburg's GM Robert Evdokimov.

Vladimir can play in defense. He can tackle with both legs, battles for each rebound, fouls when he needs to and when situation dictates. He forces wingers to make mistakes, in spite of their technical abilities. His own skills are undisputed, but his desire…

The first Poluyakhtov problem lies in his insufficient motivation to WORK on the pitch. In his last match against critically renewed Anzhi Makhachkala he lost several duels and then he stolidly watched how the game went on, would they score a goal, or Orenburg stayed lucky?

At that particular time, Maxim Grigorjev, who was sent to rent from FC Rostov, who suffered from a knee injury first half of the season, tackled 8 times during the game, ran in defense every time possession was lost, tried to minimize space created by Anzhi. Maxim played against Bayern Munich, and Vladimir watched football right on the pitch. That is totally unacceptable. Nevertheless, the truth is - it is not just a single case. It happened against Amkar, CSKA and Ufa. Regardless the opposition, you should persuade Poluyakhtov to make several steps, perform additional actions, run in transition faster after unsuccessful set pieces. However, exactly workload differ a classy player from mediocre one on elite athletes level.

Poluyakhtov's second problem lies in his narrow focus as just defense player. He does not want to cross the center of the pitch; he supports team's attacking actions only periodically, but not systematically. He does not try to shift to the center of the pitch, create numerical advantage, overload, as right-legged left fullbacks and left-legged right fullback respectively do. His job on the pitch consists of cyclical repeated actions: a tackle, an attempt to find closest player with a pass, a clearance (48 total in the season). He can get the ball from the opposition, but his passing is less good. His average pass success rate is around 67% with 33 total passes per game. He is bad at his main job (to get the possession and to save it) as a defender in one third of his occasions. During the age of total football, counter-pressing, 6 seconds rule, defenders how cannot play with the ball are not decent.

One of my colleagues points out, that Poluyakhtov's defensive focus problem is due to experiments of Orenburg's GM Robert Evdokimov. During last 2 years, Vladimir played 12 times as a central defender and was taught to play as if he was center-back. Of course, that was only an experiment, but his center-backish is here, and he still does not support the attacks.
Due to the hype around Vladimir Poluyakhtov my colleagues and me visualized his statistics as a football player, and compared him to the other left fullbacks in the league: Vitaly Denisov (Lokomotiv), Milad Mohammadi(Terek) and Magomed Musalov (Anzhi).

We studied 11 different groups of figures, which show his workload. We can divide these figures into three different groups: his attacking stats, defending stats and his ball handling skills. We examined his tackles per 90 minutes, tackles success percentage, interceptions per 90 minutes, fouls per 90 minutes, mistakes he does(when possession is lost), passing figures and their percentage, dribbles, crosses, long balls and his own average possession with the ball.

Therefore, you can see a spider graph of comparison Vladimir Poluyakhtov with the players highlighted above.

Name
Date of birth
Nationality Club
Minutes played this season
Height
Shirt number
Transfermarkt cost
Poluyakhtov Vladimir
11.07.1989
Russia FC Orenburg
1778
180
2
800 Th. €
Denisov Vitaly
23.02.1987
Uzbekistan FC Lokomotiv
1797
178
29
3 Mil. €
Name
Date of birth
Nationality Club
Minutes played this season
Height
Shirt number
Transfermarkt cost
Poluyakhtov Vladimir
11.07.1989
Russia FC Orenburg
1778
180
2
800 Th. €
Mohammadi Milad
29.09.1993
Iran FC Terek
1656
178
13
1 Mil. €
Name
Date of birth
Nationality Club
Minutes played this season
Height
Shirt number
Transfermarkt cost
Poluyakhtov Vladimir
11.07.1989
Russia FC Orenburg
1778
180
2
800 Th. €
Musalov Magomed
09.02.1994
Russia FC Terek
1828
180
57
800 Th. €
A we see from visual analysis, Vladimir can tackle a lot even having top leagues in mind (3,8 pg), but success percentage is not that good(80%). Let's take Milad Mohammadi, national Iran team player, his percent is 93! Yes, Poluyakhtov does not make many mistakes, but instead of Milad, he does not support attacking actions, he does not overlap. Magomed Musalov from rebuilding Anzhi looks like Vladimir according to this data. So thinks Transfermarkt as well, as we see from his cost. However, Musalov is younger, and he also has Russian passport and that is a big plus in our league rules (a team should have five Russian players on the pitch), and he even played in first 11 when Pavel Vrba was a coach. In addition, of course, Denisov is one of the strongest left fullbacks in post-soviet countries right now, despite playing wing back after winter break.

All in all, we have a decent player with a salary not exceeding 1 million rubles per month (17,5 Th. $), who can tackle, body check, block passes and shots. He is trained to shift and to play in line and create offside traps. He can withstand pressure and can press players of the opposing team on his own. He had his moment of glory in the match against mighty FC Krasnodar, which constantly plays in Europe League, scoring two goals. If football were NBA, he would have become a model role player, a bruiser, who can be used right now, in typical defensive periods during a quarter, and then substituted out, when the storm is weathered. However, football is not NBA, where you can put a player on the court, make him do the task, make him defend as hard as he can and then put him to the bench once again.

Vladimir Poluyakhtov will not be your asset in a buildup play, you won't win enough possessions, and you will have problems with teaching him being an inverted wing/fullback. He is satisfied with his being a player of an underdog team somewhere in Russia. Do not trust the media. Better, buy a feather shawl, if you ever come to Orenburg.


#Poluyakhtov #RFPL #Orenburg #Denisov #Mohammadi #Musalov #leftback
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