HNK Rijeka were right in the mix for the Croatian title, just six points behind the almost unbeatable Dinamo Zagreb. Their efforts had once again been led by free-scoring striker Zijad Handzic, while the club's owners were reportedly worried by manager Vladimir Latunov walking away at the end of his contract in the summer.
Soviet Surge | Part 18 | Rijeka #3: Big Name Signings
A first season in Croatia ended without a trophy but offered glimpses of promise, including a potential superstar striker smashing goalscoring records. However, the HNK Rijeka board were unhappy with Vladimir Latunov not signing high-reputation players, which he immediately set about addressing in the summer of 2028.
Soviet Surge | Part 17 | Rijeka #2: Lethal Handzic
Life in Croatia had gotten off to a solid start but a worrying dip towards the last month or so of 2027 had Vladimir Latunov slightly concerned about the strength of his new HNK Rijeka side. With that in mind, he used a 50-day winter break to begin spending the £20 million or so transfer kitty available to him.
Soviet Surge | Part 15 | Plzen #2: Czech-Mate
Life in the Czech Republic had gotten off to a flying, goal-filled start for Vladimir Latunov in his first six months with Viktoria Plzen. But he now faced a two-month winter break to explore his new country and assess some of the exciting youngsters his scouts had been busy discovering.