Was Chelsea owner Abramovich inspired by the sackings in Russia?

Russia's RT sports anchor Kate Partridge discusses the sudden rash of sackings in the Russian Premier League. 
kate_bg

Russia's RT sports anchor Kate Partridge discusses the sudden rash of sackings in the Russian Premier League.

 

Could Roman Abramovich have been influenced by events at home when he chose to show Roberto di Matteo the door at Chelsea last week?

Y'see, barely a week before Di Matteo's dismissal at Chelsea - and QPR's axing of Mark Hughes - we had two very high-profile sackings of our own in the Russian Premier League, including a father dumping his son!

Alania hosted Volga in a crunch Week 14 basement battle in Vladikavkaz at the beginning of this month. The match was goalless until the 69th minute, when two strikes in six minutes from Aleksei Sapogov and Igor Maksimov handed improving Volga a second win in three games – leaving the home side remained winless in ten, and down to second bottom with half the season gone.

This was the final straw for the League’s youngest coach, Vladimir Gazzaev.

"I want to apologise to our fans for this game, and this defeat,” the 32-year-old said afterwards. “This season, our team has produced some very poor results, for which I fully take the blame. Tomorrow, I’ll definitely come to the club and talk to the president, and I’ll ask him to accept my resignation.”

The president in question is Soviet football legend Valery Gazzaev, and the head coach’s own father, who had already said he would say no.

“Today, we don’t have any other candidates to be head coach and, while there aren’t any, Vladimir Gazzaev will continue to work in this capacity,” said Gazzaev senior.

The following Saturday, Alania lost 2-0 at Dynamo Moscow and president Gazzaev finally allowed his son to stand down, and took up the reins himself.

The 58-year-old is regarded as one of the country’s best coaches. In four years at CSKA, he won the league championship, Russian Cup and Super Cup three times each, as well as leading the first Russian side to a European trophy with UEFA Cup glory in 2005. Gazzaev also steered Alania to their first and so far only championship in 1995.

Such achievements, along with his personal connections, have helped attract big investment into the Vladikavkaz outfit. Gazzaev senior’s return to the bench, while retaining the role of president, is hoped to not only halt the slide towards relegation but also ensure the club’s sponsors continue their financial support.

Despite having a good relationship with Fabio Capello, Guus Hiddink and Dick Advocaat, it’s well known that Gazzaev also thinks a Russian should be in charge of the Russian national team, and is a strong proponent of bringing through young Russian coaches.

To this end, Gazzaev junior has stayed at Alania but moved to a scouting job, with his father believing more experience in the game will make him a better coach.

And while all that was happening at Alania, another high-profile casualty occurred at Krylya Sovetov.

Andrei Kobelev joined Krylya Sovetov in June 2011 and helped the side avoid relegation last season. But the results from this campaign are pretty much the same, and the former midfielder handed in his notice when the team lost their fourth league game in a row, 2-0 at Rubin, to lie 12th in a league of 16.

Kobelev said the first thing he will do now is “relax”, as six months of a tough campaign and last season’s efforts to avoid relegation have left him “tired”. Meanwhile, former Krylya defensive midfielder, Aleksandr Tsygankov, has taken temporary charge of the team.

I do think the massive travel involved in the Russian Premier League can take foreign coaches by surprise.

Aerophobics like Dennis Bergkamp wouldn’t be able to play regularly or coach at all in Russia due to the necessity of flying the large distances between cities in the world’s largest country.

Moscow sides such as Unai Emery’s Spartak and Slaven Bilic’s Lokomotiv are more fortunate because, with four capital sides in the top flight, they have to travel less. However, Anzhi have the opposite issue, as they have to fly the 1,600km (1,000 miles) from their Moscow base to Makhachkala in Dagestan for their home games.

With half the season gone, the cumulative effects of travel fatigue don’t appear to have affected the teams so far. Luciano Spalletti’s Zenit are the only side in St. Petersburg and have to fly for all their away games, and had lost none on the road this season, until last Thursday.

The champions’ run came to an end when they were handed a 3-0 technical defeat by the Russian Football Union, following the abandoned match at the Khimki Arena.

The referee stopped the game after 37 minutes, with Dynamo leading 1-0, after the Moscow side’s goalkeeper Anton Shunin was hit by a flare, which was smuggled into the ground by a female Zenit fan – inside her own body.

 
West Brom mad, Kate Partridge is the sports anchor at Russia's RT and writes a weekly blog on the Premier League for rt.com. Click here for more. Also follow Kate: @KatePartridgeRT.

Have your say