It is often said that being a top line coach is like getting into a game of Russian Roulette, and so it was that the week’s major news in Russian football was the announcement by Lokomotiv Moscow that head coach Rashid Rakhimov was told by his employer to pack up his things and leave the premises quietly.
Perhaps the stimulus for the sacking came after losing to 14th placed Kuban Krasnodar during match day 6; couple that with the railway men only achieving one win from six games played so far, and the writing was on the wall for Rakhimov.
With caretaker coaches being in vogue at the moment, Vladimir Maminov, former midfielder for Lokomotiv, has been named boss for the next two months as they look for a replacement.
There was speculation in the Russian media this week with the Tvoi Den tabloid suggesting that the struggling English Premier League side Newcastle United have made enquiries into the possibility of signing Dynamo Moscow defender Denis Kolodin.
The paper said Dynamo had told Newcastle they would be willing to let the 27-year-old Russian international go for around $9 million, half the player's asking price for Russian clubs.
With Russian football on a roll thanks to former Zenit St Petersburg attacker Andrey Arshavin tearing up the English Premier League, the Russian national team success at Euro 2008 and the moonlighting Russian manager Guus Hiddink reviving Chelsea’s season, the speculation on Russian players moving to the EPL will only grow as the Russian Premier League season continues.
The other Russian star in the EPL is Tottenham striker Roman Pavlyuchenko, who has been having a tough time cementing a first team place recently and faces stiff competition from Robbie Keane, Jermain Defoe and Darren Bent.
Pavlyuchenko joined Tottenham from Spartak Moscow last summer, and has scored 14 goals in his debut season.
Oleg Romantsev, the former manager of Spartak Moscow from 1989 to 2001, during which time the club developed a technical short-passing game that won them eight Russian titles and one Soviet championship, had some choice words to say about the striker’s decision to go to Tottenham, as reported by RIA Novosti this week.
Romantsev was quoted as saying “Pavlyuchenko would find it difficult to cement a first-team place at Tottenham Hotspur due to the club's kick-and-run tactics.”
“It will be tough for Roman at Tottenham, as the club is not for him. They play a physical style of football with lots of battling," the 55-year-old trainer, who has recently returned to Spartak as trainer-consultant, told the Trud newspaper.
"That kind of football also has a right to exist - at an amateur level," Romantsev added.
"Pavlyuchenko is used to more technical football," Romanstev, who left Spartak before the striker joined the club, also told the paper. "[Andrei] Arshavin was luckier.
"He joined Arsenal, a club that plays in the Spartak style - technical, with lots of short passes and running and unorthodox moves."
With Arshavin grabbing all the headlines recently with his sublime four goals against Liverpool; Pavlyuchenko has struggled with an injury and has managed less than 45 minutes of football in Tottenham's last seven games.
The games to watch out for on match day 7 are:
The old city derby on Saturday between a rejuvenated Spartak Moscow and out of form Dynamo Moscow, and on Sunday, current surprise leaders of the RPL, Kryliya Sovetov take on fifth placed CSKA Moscow.
Fixtures Matchday 7 (all kick off times GMT)
Saturday, May 2 2009
8:30 Tom Tomsk - Terek Grozny
11:00 Spartak Moscow – Dinamo Moscow
13:30 Amkar Perm – FC Moscow
16:00 Saturn Moscow – Rubin Kazan
Sunday, May 3, 2009
10:00 Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) – CSKA Moscow
12:15 Rostov –Na-Donu – Zenit St Petersburg
14:30 Lokomotiv Moscow – Spartak Nalchik
16:45 FC Khimki – Kuban Krasnodar
Tom Tomsk - Terek Grozny
The first game of the round kicks off with 10th placed Tom Tomsk who are celebrating their 100th year birthday this season taking on 9th placed Terek Grozny from Chechnya.
Last week Tom Tomsk, who is based in Siberia, were beaten by FC Moscow twice; once in the league and the other time in the Russian Cup.
Terek Grozny has not won in their past three games, and they could only manage a point against the Aliens of Saturn Moscow last week.
Tom Tomsk - LWLDWL
Points: 4 Position: 10th
Terek Grozny - WDWLLD
Points: 8 Position: 9th
Spartak Moscow – Dynamo Moscow
The biggest game of the round sees the big Moscow derby take place between Spartak and Dynamo Moscow.
Care-taker coach Valery Karpin has taken over the training duties and former Russian national coach Oleg Romantsev is on board as a consultant coach; both men have seen Spartak win two consecutive games since the departure of Michael Laudrup.
The 2-0 away win against current champions Rubin Kazan last week, could be a defining moment in their season even at this early stage.
Dynamo have hit the opposite trajectory has they have lost their past two games. Last outing in the RPL was especially unpleasant as they lost at home to Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) and their position in the RPL also suffered as they went from 4th to 7th and the team from Samara went top.
Spartak’s two Brazilian strikers Alex and Wellington have been in good form of late, while Alexander Kerzhakov should be the danger man for Dynamo.
Spartak Moscow – DLWLWW
Points: 10 Position: 6th
Dynamo Moscow – WWLWLL
Points: 9 Position: 7th
Amkar Perm – FC Moscow
Amkar Perm where thrashed by 4-1 away to Spartak Nalchik last week while FC Moscow celebrated their fourth win in a row against Tom Tomsk.
FC Moscow is the form side in Russian football at the moment, and with Argentinean Hector “Braca” Bracamonte leading the attack Amkar Perm who are placed in lowly 12th will be hoping for some mercy.
The question is will FC Moscow be so kind?
Points: 6 Position: 12th
FC Moscow – LDDWWW
Points: 11 Position: 6th
Saturn Moscow – Rubin Kazan
The Aliens are not having such a good time on earth at the moment, with only one win so far and hovering in second last place; perhaps all that travelling to and from Saturn are draining the men from space?
Rubin Kazan lost the right to call themselves undefeated as they were beaten for the first time this season at home to Spartak Moscow.
Rubin also fell to earth as they were pushed into third after that loss.
The Aliens – LLWDLD
Points: 5 Position: 15th
Rubin Kazan -WDDWWL
Points: 11 Position: 3rd
Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) – CSKA Moscow
The team from Samara have had their fans singing “we are top of the league” all week and they will hope that singing will continue against an out of sorts CSKA Moscow.
Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) had an excellent result against Dynamo Moscow and had Czech veteran striker Jan Koller to thank as he scored in last week’s 1-0 win.
The army men of CSKA lost at home to un-fancied Rostov –Na-Donu 2-1in their last outing.
The current leaders have the home advantage in this game and Zico, who is coach of CSKA, will be hoping to atone for his team’s failings last week.
CSKA Moscow – WLDWWL
Points: 10 Position: 5th
Kryliya Sovetov (Samara) - WWLWDW
Points: 13 Position: 1st
Rostov –Na-Donu – Zenit St Petersburg
Rostov –Na-Donu climbed to eighth after match day six.
Zenit St Petersburg beat FC Khmki in a high scoring affair 4-2 last round, former boss of South Korea Dick Advocaat replaced Russian national team player Pavel Pogrebnyak with Turkish star Fatih Tekke for that game.
Both players got on the scoresheet and will look to add to their seasons tally against bottom placed Khimki.
Lokomotiv Moscow – Spartak Nalchik
As mentioned above the owners of the railway men Lokomotiv Moscow, took last week’s loss to Kuban Krasnodar as a signal to send head coach Rashid Rakhimov into the coaches’ departure lounge.
The main question for this game is whether new caretaker coach - Vladimir Maminov - can inspire his team to a win against Spartak Nalchick.
While a new coach can bring new ideas and enthusiasm, a positive result in the game against Spartak Nalchick is not a given as they put four goals past Amkar Perm last week.
Spartak Nalchik – LDLDLW
Points: 5 Position: 14th
Lokomotiv Moscow – DDWLDL
Points: 6 Position: 13th
FC Khimki – Kuban Krasnodar
FC Khimki is dead last; they have conceded 18 goals in six games.
The canaries of Kuban Krasnodar put Lokomotiv Moscow coach out of work after beating them 1-0 during match day six.
The Ghanaian national team midfielder, Haminu Draman, won the game for Kuban as the 23-year-old inflicted a painful moment for the army boys scoring in the final minute of the game.
Khimki may park the bus to stop the goals, while the Kubantsy will be looking to inflict another coaches job loss for the second week in a row.
I suggest coach of Khimki Konstantin Sarsania check the barrel to make sure it’s empty.
FC Khimki - DLLLLL
Points: 1 Position: 16th
FC Kuban Krasnodar - LWLDLW
Points: 7, Position: 11th
Con Stamocostas, Goal.com