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Uhrin steps into Vrba's shoes at Plzeň

Dušan Uhrin Jr has been given the daunting task of replacing Pavel Vrba, the coach who transformed FC Viktoria Plzeň, and has made tightening the defence a priority.

Dušan Uhrin Jr has begun his tenure at Plzeň
Dušan Uhrin Jr has begun his tenure at Plzeň ©Vlastimil Vacek

"We all know that his starting position is tough as he has replaced a very successful coach. But we are all ready to help him to keep our performances on the same level."

That was how Czech international left-back David Limberský summed up the situation after FC Viktoria Plzeň's first week of winter training under Dušan Uhrin Jr, the successor to local hero Pavel Vrba. Uhrin, 46, took charge after Vrba accepted the Czech Republic national team job, departing in fairy-tale style as a dramatic UEFA Champions League group stage winner against PFC CSKA Moskva snatched a UEFA Europa League knockout berth from the visitors' grasp.

Vrba received a standing ovation from grateful fans, having ended his five-year tenure with the club's first two Czech titles, the Czech Cup and two participations in the UEFA Champions League group stage. Uhrin, who led FC Dinamo Tbilisi to the 2012/13 Georgian double, takes over a Plzeň side five points behind AC Sparta Praha in their bid for a third championship in four years.

Following that opening week, Limberský said: "Every coach has different methods, so our warm-ups and training drills have changed. As regards our tactics I think we will be as attack-minded team as in the past, though there will be more emphasis on defence."

Uhrin, who has coaching experience in Romania and Cyprus as well as Georgia and his native Czech Republic, confirmed following their opening 6-2 friendly defeat of third division FC Chomutov: "We want to work on our defence where Viktoria had certain troubles in high-profile games. After the break we made substitutions and conceded two quick goals. We need to avoid such mistakes, though we are only at the start I believe we're on the right path."

He brings real coaching pedigree to the job, his namesake father having led the Czech Republic to the EURO '96 final and won two Czechoslovakian titles with Sparta, the very side now blocking his son's path to immediate glory. Uhrin Jr said: "He is a big Sparta supporter and I do not want to talk for him, but I think he will cross fingers for Plzeň now."

It is continental rather than domestic challenges up first for Uhrin Jr, as their next competitive match is the opening leg of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie with FC Shakhtar Donetsk. "The start will be very hard," he said. "But if we want to move forward, we have to manage the first step well."