FC Zenit St. Petersburg
Zenit have signed Serbian forward Mateja Kezman on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, – for free with a purchase option in the future. Kezman (born in 1979) moved from Partizan to PSV Eindhoven for €10.5 million in 2000. He scored 105 goals in 122 games over four seasons at PSV; and was a part of multi-million wholesale purchase by Abramovich in 2004, – Chelsea signed him for £5.3 million at the same time with Drogba, Cech, Robben, Carvalho and P.Ferreira. However, Kezman failed to make an impact with Chelsea, and left for Atletico Madrid after just one season. Then he was transferred to Fenerbahce (and won the Turkish League in the club’s centennial year); then in August, 2008 joined French side PSG.
Kezman managed 17 goals in 49 caps for Serbia and Montenegro, but never played for independent Serbia.
The problem is in the Russian league’s limit on foreign players: only 6 foreigners are allowed on the pitch at the same time. Considering that in starting line-up we have 3 foreign defenders (Lombaerts, Meira, Kim Donjin), and all our 3 forwards are foreigners, it would be a hard competition for the playing time between: strikers Tekke (Turkey), Kezman (Serbia), Kornilenko (Belorussia); midfielders Rosina (Italy), Huszti (Hungary), Sirl (Chezh) and long-term injured Danni (Portugal); defenders Krizanac (Croatia), Gubocan (Slovakia); keeper Contofalski (Slovakia).
But enough about all that. There is another, much more interesting topic at the moment: few days ago Zenit have also signed attacking midfielder Bystrov from Spartak. He is Russian national team right winger, he is from St. Petersburg and he played for Zenit from 2002 till 2005. Everyone in St.Pete remembers that wonderful team coached by Yuri Morozov (and then by Vlastimil Petrzela), with Kerjakov, Arshavin, Radimov, Spivak, Gorshkov, Kobelev.. and Bystrov too.
However, in summer 2005 Bystrov joined archrival side Spartak Moscow, – and since that moment he has been the most abominable, hated, detested football player in Petersburg. Immediately after joining Spartak he started to make declarations of love to this disgusting red-white side, started scoring goals and his usual diving for fouls and cards in games against Zenit, kissing his spartak tshirt after all that stuff, and so on.
Spartak are called ‘pigs’ in Russia, so Bystrov’s nickname in Petersburg is Bystrov-piggy (I’m not sure about English, but in Russian language it sounds pretty rude when you are called a ‘pig’).
And now FC Zenit management makes this inexplicable, incomprehensible decision to ‘return him home’. The intention to buy Bystrov (for unbelivable €15 millions) was announced just before the game against Nacional in Europa league. And see the immediate response of Zenit fans:
it says ‘No place for pigs here’, with first letter as a logo of Spartak Moscow
‘Bystrov, f*** off’
‘Signing Bystrov is spitting into our souls’
‘It’s not a pigsty here’
‘moscow pig, stay back at your spartak’
I do not understand this management’s decision too, and I hardly can accept it. To weaken Spartak side? – OK, but paying for that 15 million euro? Ridiculous.
And then there was yesterday’s game at Khimki – and Bystrov in starting line-up. And he played well, he is rather classy player – of course I admit it. And he even scored the second, and assisted in the fourth own-goal (we won 4:0). But all his touches of the ball were accompanied by booing and whistling of thousands of Zenit fans (there were more than 3000 of them in Khimki yesterday).
I have never heard about the situation when the player of your beloved team scores a goal, but you personally watching tv at home, and thousands of fans at the stadium, are feeling loathing and disgust. And I wish you’ll never feel the same in your life – it’s a terrible emotion.
Of course, there are bunch of people in the city who welcomed this transfer, but the majority of Zenit fans will have to live with this now. I love my club, I am fan of the club, and it must be nothing about my attitude to certain players, of course. But this particular situation is just another one thing which demostrates the attitude of the current Zenit’s management to the supporters.
I love my club, but I don’t like the current management – absolutely unprofessional and having no idea about what is it – to love and to support Zenit. They are just managers (pretty incompetent in football) hired by Gazprom. They would better sell gas, oil or whatever they sell; but they shouldn’t manage such club as Zenit St. Petersburg.
As for results, we played 1:1 against Portugal side Nacional (missing around a dozen of 90% chances and receiving a set-piece goal in the last minute, as it always happens), and now we are out of 2009-2010 European season. And I’m not sure yet about the next, 2010-11 season – we are 6th in Russian league now, with 10 games to play:
1. Rubin (Kazan) 43
2. Spartak (Moscow) 39
3. Moskva (Moscow) 34
4. CSKA (Moscow) 33
5. Lokomotiv (Moscow) 32
6. Zenit 31.
Thousands of Zenit fans gave touching send-off to Dick Advocaat at the St.Petersburg airport yesterday. There were songs, flowers, and.. tears in the end.
Thank you very much again, Mr. Advocaat, and good luck on your next job in Belgium. This is football, – sometimes coaches and teams have to say goodbye to each other and move forward.
Zenit plays in Perm on Sunday, with Anatoly Davidov as a head coach until the end of the season. (He was the coach of Zenit youth team previously.)
Thank you very much, Mr Advocaat, for your excellent work during last 3 years. Thank you for all fantastic days of complete happiness in St. Petersburg. We will never forget you.
I really feel a responsibility to try to describe the current situation in Zenit as it is. (I am really in lack of time now – working on few different life-tasks, sort of, you know. But I have found these few minutes to type what is happening, see the seriousness of situation:)
Well, after that 31-July Advocaat’s emotional statement (see post below) we saw the game in Ramenskoe – the place where the League Title was won in golden 2007. In very nervous situation (I should say that we still haven’t heard any feedback-statements done by the club management, there was just one phrase in few preconceived medias – Igor Korneev: ”I also do have many things to say, but I don’t want to say them in this exact moment.” – something like that, you know this yellow ‘news-coverage’ style.)
So yes, nervous situation, the only striker in squad – is signed few days ago from Tomsk Belorussian Kornilenko (who was actually considered as a free-transfer signing, – due to financial crisis in Tomsk the forward had huge financial questions to his club and used the right to claim a release on free.. – but then in good Russian old-school style of Helping-Each-Other principle the Few big people from rich companies granted the bankrupted club with a few-millions help. And probably only in gesture towards this helping deal Zenit have paid to Tomsk 2 millions euro: Thanks for the free-transfer striker, guys.
I am afraid nobody bothered to explain to Dick Advocaat what happened exactly in details (may be I am wrong though). And of course that fact, in addition to Rosina’s transfer story, seemed also strange and weird to him. I mean, the coach’s emotions can be understood, and it is actually the task of Zenit management – to do everything to overcome, to smooth any misunderstanding actions and words inside the club, and if Rosina was signed according to agreement with the new coach (whoever will be – may be even Spalletti), this can be easily explained to Mr Advocaat in polite manner.
We were the UEFA Cup holder club until March, and we won the first – and surely not the last in coming years – league title in 2007; we have great coach who has just achieved the biggest results in his quite respectable career, who works with his good professional assistants – first Cornelius Pot, now Bert Van Lingen. And the most important, we have excellent team – Anukov, Ziryanov, Semshov, Shirokov are contributors to Euro-08 success (playing in semis was a tremendous success for Russia, we all get real; and thanks again to another great Dutch, Mr Hiddink).
The defence (see the image from left to right) – are national players of Korea, Portugal, Croatia, Russia; Huszti plays for Hungary, Denisov didn’t play on Euro but he is the key Russia midfielder now; well, we lost striker Pogrebnyak just one day before Sunday’s game (signed for Stutgart) – and it was debut for Kornilenko, remember that Help-Each-Other story.
I am typing enormous text, above was just a preview of Sunday game – imagine how I am involved in what’s going on:)
OK, 15 min: stupid mistake by Krizanac (who played very good match in remaining 85 minutes), and penalty: 0:1
Zenit immediately starts to attack in aggressive style – teamwork, fast movement and creative spirit – we could see everything, and then – corner on 25 min, and it’s debutant Kornilenko, with the help of central defender Meira making a ‘block-shot’, scores the equalizer:
I know few chaps who placed large bets on Zenit’s victory on Betfair in the break – it would pay 25/10 profit – well, I was impressed too and also had strong opinion about our victory. And don’t miss Zenit’s goal in the beginning of the second half: it’s captain right defender Anukov who creates the moment and then assists to Shirokov:
Then Huszti shoots amazing free-kick – hit the post, ground, and then out to the field (i can’t find a video right now, sorry don’t have time to search), then Denisov makes stunning interception in 30 meters from goals and immediately strikes – it’s 3:1! – but referee denies the goal (due to foul during interception – there was no foul at all obviously).
With few minutes left Saturn got a red card, and no doubts in Zenit fully-deserved victory at all, and then, on 85 min – that stupid equalizer, keeper’s rare mistake which could happen with everybody (well, Malafeev doesn’t play for Russian national team anymore, and we all know he shouldn’t).
2:2, and now already 7 points to the first place Rubin, again dropping points in final minutes… – but see, these are just points, numbers and digits. What we have behind the result is a group of outstanding players, all playing with high-spirit motivation, in powerful and aggressive style, and we see the coaching staff working on the process superbly. And of course Zenit always have the massive support from us, people living in St.Petersburg and loving the club.
But what we don’t have for sure – is a competent, adequate and professional management. (Though we still have such giant club-basis resource as Gazprom.) And it’s a shame, of course, for such team as Zenit and such city as St. Petersburg.
I remember how previous president, Fursenko, said on the frozen Petrovsky stadium in early March, 2007: ‘We are beginning the season aiming the highest targets, and we WILL win the title!’ He shook his hand in the air, and I, together with 22000 of another fans dressed in winter clothes on their bodies, with their hearts and minds warmed with hope and spirits, replied to these words with a bit skeptical, but excited roaring..
Fursenko has gone on the highest note one could imagine (he made a shift from gaz-and-oil to media-business now), but the president and general director appointed by Gazprom after that – are not able to rule the club properly, it’s my strong belief. Mine and I guess, also of majority of fans community.
Well, this was a brief description of the current situation. The ‘central’ Petersburg tv-channel feeds us with terrible and pathetic reports saying how wise is the management and how bad and scandalous-minded is Dick Advocaat. All Moscow mass-media (of course!) got all stories with gloating delight and made everything to start big-scale grinning hype and conflict-provoking campaign, – you know, how it usually happens: all kinds of ’specialists’ and ‘observers’ appear on tv-air and in all newspapers, commenting some out-of-context phrases of some ‘resources from the club’, unknown but reliable, and etc.
But I am repeating myself: at the same time we can see, that despite all that mud and noise the team shows great football – passionate, classy and professional. And they obviously have the power to perform brilliantly in the second half of the season and in Europa league first stage.
The only thing we do not need now is an attempt to create problems on an empty spot, just inside the club due to somebody’s bad and unprofessional work.
And in this period I am even more committed and devoted Zenit’s fan than usual. We have great team and very good coach.
Apologize for my long absence; and very briefly, in two words about the last 4-5 months: after the 1st half of Russian season Zenit is on the 6th place with 23 points (+6=5-4), with last year champion Rubin and 4 Moscow clubs above in the table.
After the winter transfer of Arshavin to Arsenal we then lost Danni (Portugese playmaker is out for the season due to injury), Timoschuk (the captain left for Bayern Munich), Pogrebnyak (has just signed for Stutgart).
Dick Advocaat has already reached an agreement with Belgium federation and is leaving Zenit after the end of this season. Sports director Sarsania also left Zenit in winter (now he is a coach of last place club Khimki), and one week ago Igor Korneev was appointed as a new sports director, – Korneev at the same time is Hiddink’s assistant in Russian national team.
And during the yesterday briefing Advocaat has surprisingly made very tough and critical statement, see the video:
If you don’t want to watch all 20 minutes, briefly the main points:
‘I am very angry and disappointed, and don’t know exactly what I have to do with this situation. It’s the first time in my life when the club has bought me players without my permission. There’s nothing about the players, of course, it’s all about Korneev.’
‘When I saw Rosina on the video (Zenit completed the signing of Alessandro Rosina from Torino few days ago) I said no, we don’t take him, we need strikers. I was interested in Pandev, in Guerrero. But I have the feeling that the club is listening to the other people, not to me. I think we have proved in the past that we only do the best for this club, so I cannot live with the situation when the new person, who has just arrived to Zenit 1 week ago, can decide – together with the club – about the player whom I don’t want. So I don’t want to work with Korneev anymore.
May be, the club wants this sports director to be the coach later, don’t know. But for me it’s unbelievable and strange situation what the club has done.’
‘We have lost three top players, so we need other top players, not average.’
What do I think personally? I am on Advocaat’s side, and absolutely don’t like the way how the club management is doing the business.
Whatever will happen next, I am sure every Zenit’s supporter will always be grateful to Mr Advocaat for his work during all last years. And it would be quite disgusting if the current club management, current president would say goodbye to this great specialist in this way, making everything for Advocaat to leave Zenit in bad mood, angry and disappointed.
As for the tomorrow game vs. Saturn, of course we all know that the team, the coaching staff are professionals, and will do everything for achieving a good result – despite all these events, statements, states of mind and states of grace.
UEFA Cup holders Zenit St. Petersburg continue their 2008/09 campaign with a game at Udinese tonight. The team arrived to Udine on Tuesday and was accommodated in Astoria hotel (interesting fact that the same hotel was booked by Stutgart after the first leg of the previous round – which was pretty prematurely from the Germans, especially after 1:2 defeat).
Dick Advocaat said during press-conference: “Udinese probably deserve higher place in the table; they have about 20 players of the same very good level and their coach knows how to use his players in 4-3-3 formation. We also prefer 4-3-3, though I don’t like to do rotation”.
Zenit is still without injured Lombaerts and Hubocan, but Timoshchuk and Sirl return from suspension. Both games vs. Stutgart showed that Zenit is in very good form, though Russian league season starts only on Saturday. Team movement was fast as usual, new signings – Semshov and Huszti – fitted in easily. There were some mistakes and slight misunderstanding in defence, – but this is explainable and normal for the first games after winter break.
I saw Udinese only once – when they defeated Spartak Moscow on group stage, so can’t say anything on their current form. But it seems to me the Italians don’t thoroughly understand what a fast and aggressive opponent they have got now. Of course, statistics is not in Zenit’s favour: Russian clubs won only 1 game from 18 in Italy, and Zenit lost both games to Juventus last autumn.. – but I have a feeling that we are able to go through this tie confidently. Even a draw would be an OK result: Zenit’s chances in the game in St. Petersburg will be much higher, – it will be the first, season opening home game, so the atmosphere will be tremendous. Last spring home results were: Villareal 1:0, Marseille 2:0, Bayern 4:0, and I can’t see any reason why not to repeat the same impressive run.
Zenit at Friuli stadium, Udine (c) FC-Zenit.ru
And transfer news: Zenit has signed Portuguese international defender Fernando Meira from Galatasaray. This is the 3rd (and the last) newcomer during winter break, he signed 3-years contract and got #3 shirt – which belonged to current Liverpool’s Martin Skrtel in the golden 2007 season. Meira (1978) started his career at Vitoria Guimaraes, then was bought in 2000 by Benfica (the first buying of Jose Mourinho), where he became a captain very soon. Meira then moved to Stutgart, became a captain there too, and won Bundesliga in 2007. Hope we’ll see him on the pitch very soon; Zenit starts the league season with a clash against Moscow rivals Spartak on Sunday.
As well as everyone else in St Petersburg, I am extremely bored of Arshavin’s transfer saga, and posting this photo specially for the Premier League officials, who are responsible for ratification of yesterday’s Zenit-Arsenal deal.
Guys, please make this little boy’s dream come true:
Zenit has returned from the first training camp in United Arab Emirates. Reportedly, there’s only one missing: Arshavin flew directly to another ‘Emirates’, to wrap up a move to Arsenal. The transfer window in England closes at 1700 GMT on Monday, so this endless story is going to be over very soon. And probably, #10 tshirt will be then given to Igor Semshov, the only new signing (he is Russia national midfielder, has joined from Dynamo Moscow in December).
Besides Semshov, there were two more changes: midfielder Alexey Ionov (19 years old) has been included into the first team, while Argentinian Alejandro Dominguez didn’t come nor to Dubai neither to St. Petersburg. The player’s explanation was brilliant: Dominguez is suffering from a sudden outburst of aerophobia, so unfortunately, is not able to fly at the moment. What a delicate and fragile psychic setup, poor guy.
There were many other transfer talks, but things remain the same: Malafeev, Timoschuk and Pogrebnyak stay in St.Pete, Iaquinta stays on the reserve bench at Juventus. (Earlier in January French defender Puygrenier joined Bolton on loan, and guess that no one regrets of this fact.)
Zenit played three friendlies in Dubai: vs. Uzbekistan national team (0:1), Bulgarian Litex (1:0, Anyukov) and Ukrainian Metallist (3:1, Denisov, Timoschuk pen., Zyrianov).
Oh, and there’s one big change in coaching staff: Dik Advocaat’s assistant Cornelius Pot returned to Netherlands (due to family issues), and the new assistant manager is Bert Van Lingen, one of the most famous Dutch specialists, the author of ‘Coaching Soccer’, ‘the official Coaching Book of the Dutch football association’.
Few photos from the first training camp:
Dik Advocaat and Bert Van Lingen: the official coaching staff of the UEFA Cup and European Supercup holders.
Andrey Arshavin: Fly to ‘Emirates’.
Timoschuk (in the center) didn’t go to Bayern, Pogrebnyak (on the right) didn’t go to Blackburn, youngster Ionov (second right) was added to the first team.
Dik Advocaat loves Igor Denisov. Well, everyone in St.Petersburg does. (My personal feeling is that Denisov, former captain of Russia Under-21, should finally become the real leader and captain of Zenit, may be already by the end of this season. See, I have big expectations on him. Remember his goal in the UEFA Cup final last year? -
St. Petersburg weather in Dubai.
The same photo after 17:00 GMT on Monday.