Vladislav Viric’s arrival at Dreams FC as the club’s head coach, about a week into 2021, was received with no little surprise.

A cross-section of fans and the commentariat made its skepticism known, loud and clear, save the few who were willing to give the new man the benefit of doubt. Even in a country where many a Serbian tactician has been warmly embraced, observers — supporters and neutrals alike — wondered what it was on this 41-year-old’s résumé that had landed him in Dawu.

Weren’t other alternatives, local or foreign, worthier of consideration?

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It’s a question nobody is asking now, of course, seeing how Viric has brought a fresh outlook to a side that appeared fragile and sterile at the start of the season. Under his watch, players have improved both technically and tactically, with solid defensive principles creating the ideal platform for midfielders and attackers to excel.

Viric is a coach in the purest form. His methods have injected style, as well as confidence, into a team that looked bereft of inspiration. His Dreams set-up is thrilling to watch, virile, brave and attacking-oriented with emphasis on quick passing and pressing high up the pitch.

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Even more remarkable is the reformative influence Viric has had on the training ground. Viric wasn’t too impressed with the squad he inherited, and has repeatedly discussed areas that require strengthening in the mid-season window — a concern borne out by the results, and the performances, he was charged to better.

Players like Agyenim Boateng, Emmanuel Ocran and Joseph Esso have since been transformed, but Viric’s obsessive attention to detail has also involved meticulously preparing his men for their individual opponents.

In doing so, Viric’s particular tactical preferences have ensured he’s only needed to make minor tweaks to the playing staff, rather than the complete overhaul many had predicted.

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All that work has reflected favorably on Dreams’ recent Ghana Premier League fortunes. The seven games before Viric arrived saw Dreams win just once, a run that had them 16th on the table with a meagre six points; in the seven games that have followed, Dreams’ lot has improved considerably — five wins and two draws (the league’s best run in that period) have lifted the team to second, two points off the top.

Rough times would come, almost inevitably, and Viric would have to build the tough skin required to withstand those. For now, though, everyone is happy, the applause is loud, and Viric can drink it all in with satisfaction.

Godfred Budu Yeboah — Ink & Kicks

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