It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
Friends in high places.
Two phrases that serve to sum up recent developments in Anji Makhachkala’s pursuit of their new coach – after Gadzhi Gadzhiev found himself out of the job in late September. Name after name after name have been linked to the job which could arguably be one of the most intriguing in European football. Sven Goran Eriksson, Guus Hiddink and Carlo Ancelotti have all found themselves at the forefront of media speculation – with recent reports going as far as suggesting that Hiddink had verbally agreed to take the reigns in the New Year. However such esteemed, high profile coaches are not the direction in which the club is turning towards.Read More
The growth of football as a major money making tool – in which the obscenely wealthy increasingly place their vast sums of capital within a particular club – has served to change the face of the sport in its upper echelons. It seems that owners are, like never before, becoming the personalities through which their club is perceived by the wider world. It’s a fascinating development that one could suggest overshadows what the club has managed to achieve in a previous age.
However despite the growth of public interest in the owners of football clubs there are often middlemen who work behind the scenes to ensure that various aspirations are attained. Anji Makhachkala, for example, are a club who have increasingly found themselves beneath European football’s unflinching spotlight. The vast sums of money that have served to entice a variety of previously out of reach talent has sparked both jealousy, derision and rejoicing, depending on where your allegiances lie.
Suleyman Kerimov – the man whose vast fortune is lining Anji’s coffers – may be the leading man when one thinks of the club’s meteoric rise however other figures may ultimately prove to be key to future successes.
Anji’s decision to appoint Alan Soziev as Sporting Director – or Director of Football in its English guise – is a move that expresses the continued sense of seriousness with which the club are taking forward. Soziev’s position within the club will see him take the reigns of a transfer policy that has resembled something of a scatter gun approach over the past twelve months. It will fall upon the shoulders of Soziev to learn from the experiences of his predecessor – the newly appointed Vice President Herman Chistyakov – by adding a sense of focus and concentration within the club.
It would be all too easy to fall into the traps of continuing to offer vast sums of money to players who have turned the wrong side of 30 and who are merely on the prowl for one final pay cheque before their inevitable retirement. The signings of both Balázs Dzsudzsák and Mbark Boussoufa have been expressions of the club punching above their weight when it comes to more realistic transfers however the suspicion remains that the winter may well serve to bring in more experienced, and expensive, talents.
The Chelsea duo of Florent Malouda and Didier Drogba are prime examples of players who Anji will be willing to break to bank for in order to entice to them the North Caucasus. The prestige that comes with signing players who have experienced such illustrious careers is obviously an issue that cannot be ignored by Anji however such lack of foresight will harm the club in the longer term.
UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations are an issue that will sit in the back of the minds of each and every major European club for the foreseeable future. The prospect of being banished from the continent’s major club competitions is not one that any club wishes to embrace. However for Russian clubs with major continental aspirations – of which Anji join the likes of Zenit St Petersburg and CSKA Moscow – it will become increasingly difficult to compete on a level footing with clubs from the major European leagues due to the measly financial gains clubs can make in the Russian game.
Minimal financial benefits from the likes of domestic television rights and matchday income – due to relatively poor attendance figures – will make it difficult for Russian clubs to develop in the manner, and at the rate, that they so desire. Anji – more so than both Zenit and CSKA – will find that FFP will be a difficult obstacle to overcome thanks to the fact that their reputation and infrastructure is far less developed than their more illustrious rivals.
But this is the crux of the issue. Anji need players of the reputation of Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto’o or Malouda and Drogba due to the fact such signings place the club firmly on the map. However the obscene wages and financial losses that are incurred through such signings make it increasingly difficult for the club to meet UEFA’s financial scheme. Thus, Soziev finds himself in a particularly difficult situation.
The need to balance the significant, heavyweight transfers with minor, long term investments is more pertinent than ever as Anji look to build a squad capable of success on as many fronts as physically possible. The likes of Dzsudzsák and Boussoufa are – while still costly – players who the club should be focusing on bring into the Russian game in spite of the fact that they may not create a significant stir within the Western press. Such signings add depth and quality in a manner that provides an increased sense of stability particularly in the face of the signings of Roberto Carlos and Eto’o.
However with Soziev admitting that the club’s search for a new coach will be concluded in the New Year – with Guus Hiddink reportedly verbally agreeing to take charge – the club’s transfer policy may yet remain somewhat unresolved. What is for certain though is that while Anji continue to attempt to snap up European football’s expensive, aging talents then the club will continue to be taken lightly. Anji need to adopt a transfer policy, in the future, that can secure the club’s long term position within European competition while gradually building a side capable of pushing for titles. This is obviously easier said than done however Soziev’s approach over the next month will serve to dictate which direction the club is intent upon taking.Read More
Roman Abramovich was the original Russian speculator who initiated the expansion of the Rouble in Western European football. His billions helped to rapidly transform Chelsea from the echelons of mediocrity to the heady heights of league titles and European Cup finals. His seemingly bottomless wallet has seen spectacular talents head to Stamford Bridge in the face of interest from the established powers of Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool. However the fact that he placed his backing behind a club some 1,500 miles from Moscow continues to sit uneasily on the shoulders of Russian football.Read More
The football season is one of those continual cycles that remains an ever necessary consistent within a fan’s life. While, with time, things change in every other facet of being those thirty-odd matches each and every year provide some much needed relief from the monotony of 9-5 living.Read More
There are few coaches in European football who look quite as uncomfortable as Leonid Slutsky when he takes his place in the dugout. His persistent rocking back and forth accompanied by nervously volatile – if there can be such a thing – gesticulations scream of a man not entirely at ease in his current surroundings.Read More