Domm NorrisComment

ANZHI MAKHACHKALA: TRYING TO BREAK THE MOULD

Domm NorrisComment

Anzhi Makhachkala need a new manager - will they go for an established name or does the answer lie within?

In the world of football with new found wealth comes new found expectation that few can truly manage to come to terms with. The modern game, in particular, is littered with examples of clubs and individuals who have crippled beneath the burden of this heightened pressure. It often takes a certain mentality to achieve success and more often than not such folk are difficult to come by. For Anzhi Makhachkala, the need for a leader who can handle the rigours of expectation are more profound than ever.

The club’s sacking of Gadzhi Gadzhiev was always an occurrence that was merely going to happen sooner rather than later. With Anzhi looking to establish themselves as one of the elite clubs in Europe – let alone Russia – there was an overwhelming sense that the club required a renowned coach – as opposed to a man who has never won a piece of silverware in his career. It is quite understandable why this perception has manifested itself as the ever expanding egos of Anzhi’s new signings would, rightly or wrongly, barely respect the opinion of a coach that they had never before heard of.

Anzhi’s results under Gadzhiev showed several signs of promise over the past few months with the club even threatening to firmly enter the title race over the summer months. However recent draws against Rostov and Terek Grozny as well as a defeat to Kuban Krasnodar served to tip the balance against Gadzhiev, who was always a dead man walking after Suleyman Kerimov’s takeover.

It is a shame that Gadzhiev has been forced out of the club however with football being an industry entirely lacking in sympathy this will hardly remain an issue. Although what should continue to remain in Kerimov’s continuing thought processes is the recent history of famous, big money coaches who tried their hand in the Russian game.

Many of Russia’s established powers have used their financial muscle to woo coaches with significant reputations on the continent. Spartak Moscow have seen the likes of Nevio Scala and Michael Laudrup fail to live up to their previous hype while CSKA Moscow appointed Juande Ramos for merely six weeks and Brazilian legend – turned somewhat questionable coach – Zico lasted only a year. Each signing was seen as a major coup however ultimately each and every coach failed to live up to the expectations that their significant salaries demanded.

While the likes of Dick Advocaat, Guus Hiddink and Luciano Spalletti remain examples of positive foreign appointments they are not the norm. However there remains a real dearth of quality coaches – within the ex Soviet states – who can realistically command a group of obscenely paid stars and lead them to the glory that the outlay placed upon them expects. CSKA coach Leonid Slutsky is an obvious example of a Russian coach who has developed a significant pedigree at a top club however other examples remain few and far between. It seems that the next Valery Gazzaev is not yet waiting in the wings to offer Anzhi the most desirable option – a native coach who understands the rigours of the Russian game.

Fabio Capello and Guus Hiddink have all found their names linked with the vacant post at Anzhi – with the latter being a hugely intriguing option – and would ultimately provide the club with the big name that they crave. Should a coach of such a significant stature be enticed to the money spinning ‘project’ in Makhachkala then it would add further weight to potential moves in the following transfer windows. The prospect of working under Hiddink would be a far more attractive proposition than having to Wikipedia the name of Gadzhi Gadzhiev. It’s a harsh reality but the wider financial outlay of the club will, in theory, reap rewards n the future.

What has been most interesting about Gadzhiev’s dismissal has been the rise of Roberto Carlos within the ranks of the club. It would seem that the Brazilian is in fact becoming a rather close associate of Kerimov – who bought him a Bugatti Veyron for his birthday – and he has thus been instated as coach while Anzhi look for a permanent appointment. It’s quite an incredible decision although Carlos’ team mate Diego Tardelli seems smitten with proceedings and took to Twitter praising his compatriot to high heaven.

Carlos is reported to be holding regular meetings with Kerimov to discuss just where Anzhi should turn in regards to a new coach – as well as future on field acquisitions. If the Daily Mail’s quotes are to be believed then the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Robert Pires are all on the club’s radar and winter moves could potentially be on the horizon. It’s debatable that the aforementioned players, with the exception of Pires, would even contemplate a move to Dagestan however such names are an expression of Anzhi’s unfaltering ambition. Anzhi’s rise may remain a little disingenuous and obscene however there is an overwhelming level of intrigue about just how far they can go – and how quickly.

The coming weeks – and possibly months – will be littered with rumours of who Anzhi’s new coach will be. Recent form may make Champions League qualification look slightly too ambitious however the length of the Russian season this term – in which another transfer is yet to come – means that such an event cannot be written off. Should Roberto Carlos manage to steer the ship in the right direction then there may well be calls for him to take the job full time – and perhaps Suleyman Kerimov wouldn’t be too against this idea either.

Domm is a regular at IBWM Towers & can be found on Twitter here

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