Former Russian coach defends European football calendar

The former coach of the Russian national football team, Valery Gazzaev, believes the decision to switch the Premier League to the European football calendar was a positive one.

­Spring just doesn’t want to arrive in most of Russia this year. Snow is still plentiful in many places, while a month ago, Rubin were forced to play a Europa League match in temperatures approaching minus 20.

The domestic season kicked off a couple of weeks ago, and the playing conditions haven’t been great.

“Those clubs in Russia’s northern regions have suffered greatly due to a late spring,”
said Gazzaev, now president of Alania Vladikavkaz. “My club, Alania Vladikavkaz, was supposed to be playing a match in Vladimir, but due to the poor state of the pitch, had to be moved to Moscow. However, I think this is just a one-off problem.”

However, the pitches that Rubin and Zenit had to play on in the opening rounds of the championships were hardly match ready.

The situation with Lokomotiv’s pitch, meanwhile, was so bad that they had to move their game to Luzhniki Stadium, while has artificial turf.

This brings into question the Russian Football Union’s decision to move the country’s playing calendar to start in the autumn and finish in the spring.

This means no football will be played in the summer, when the pitches are at their best, and the fans don’t have to endure subzero temperatures in the stands.

“The decision to move the calendar, to start the season in the autumn and finish in spring, is a positive one, as it will move our championship in line with clubs from around Europe, and make it easier for our clubs to compete in the later rounds of the Champions League and the Europa League. It would also make sense to increase the number of clubs in the Russian Premier League from 16 to 18,”
he said.

Gazzaev became president of Alania Vladikavkaz, which plays in Russia’s first division, after being sacked as manager of Dynamo Kiev last year.

The 56 year old was one of the Russian Football Union’s harshest critics when they decided to appoint Guus Hiddink as the national team head coach. However, he is a lot more supportive of his successor, Dick Advocaat – who Gazzaev says is being unfairly criticized.

“A lot of people have criticized the Russian national side recently, and I think this is unfair. We need to be supporting the side, not criticizing them. They have played a number of matches away from home, and I am sure they will make it to the Euro 2012 finals. Yes, Russia didn’t play well against Armenia, but Advocaat’s side are still in with a great chance of qualifying,” Gazzaev explained.

Despite taking time out from coaching, Gazzaev is still seen as one of the most influential voices in Russian football.

And his immediate aim will be to try and get his beloved Alania back into the Premier League.

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