''It’s difficult to speak about any logic in Russian football — decisions are made like in anecdotes''
Aleksey Safonov over the national team of Russia and naturalisation
In his column of Realnoe Vremya, famous football agent Aleksey Safonov tells about the preparation of the national team of Russia for the 2018 WC, its head coach and naturalisation of football players.
We play with either outsiders or leaders of world football
The national team of Russia is to have friendlies with Argentina, Spain in the short run and later with Brazil. As far as I've heard, also, there are negotiations about test matches with Italy and France. There is a feeling that we go to the opposite extreme – we play with either outsiders or leaders of world football. From my point of view, we should have diversified the matches a bit because defeats by the above-mentioned ''monsters'' can psychologically hit our team before the WC at home.
It is difficult to see any logic in making decisions in Russian football. Let's imagine that the major match of the whole championship – CSKA vs Spartak – is scheduled for 10 December. It is a real staple of the season. And we're said now: if it's cold, the match will be postponed until 20 February. What are we talking about? As if it was warmer in late winter than at the beginning. Decisions are made like in anecdotes.
On the other hand, Lionel Messi's arrival to Moscow will become an event for Russian fans and good for the very national teams – they will have to play in Russia this summer. Their services are already looking for bases for them, examine the transport system, etc.
Cherchesov has chosen 70% of the squad
Meanwhile, different experts advise Stanislav Cherchesov to stop experiments with the squad: like, the WC at home is about to kick off. It is also obvious that the coach has already chosen 70% of the squad for the tournament. It's clear that remarks need to be done in case of injuries and so on, but still.
For instance, I think Golovin looks like one of the best players in our team. But he was injured, so we can't help but have this forced change. There must be not only a Plan A plan but also B and C. The invitation of Anton Shvets and Anton Zabolotny raises questions. But if we're talking about the necessity to rejuvenate the team, some guys need to be invited as perspective, so that they will be on the team.
However long Akinfeyev's series of missed balls lasts in the Champions League, Russia doesn't have a stronger goalkeeper, unfortunately. Now Cherchesov sees Gabulov and Lunev as subs. Even if same Selikhov from Spartak is playing a great season. But we have the least number of problems with goalkeepers. Goalkeepers in many teams look well.
Naturalisation yields fruits but…
There's been room for Fernandes, Rausch, Neustädter in the squad. It seems that the naturalisation of players yields fruits, but not everything is so clear. For instance, Neustädter doesn't impress me a lot. Rausch seems to have a good game, but he already is an old player. It's like a hint that we can't prepare football players on our own. One thing is that players play here and go abroad, that's to say, like it used to be when we had Yuran, Kolyvanov, later Smertin, Izmaylov, Arshavin, Pavlyuchenko. It all also refers to the third naturalised player – Mario Fernandes from CSKA. But here the story is a bit different, he's been playing in Russia for a very long time. He became a top defender in Russia. He has the least number of questions at the moment, in this position, he is the strongest.
A reasonable question arises due it all: why do we need the limit on the number of foreign players if they are actively naturalised? President Putin complained once why we had many foreign players. And football officials immediately took the salute. Though they were who told we did not have any limit. Slogans change, but the same people rule. It seems that the Russian Football Union doesn't have the willpower to defend some decisions in supreme agencies.
Back to the national team of Russia. In Kazan, many people are surprised at the invitation of Fyodor Kudryashov from Rubin. It is said that same Vladimir Granat looks more reliable. But it's probably the case when personal relations affect. Stanislav Cherchesov made Granat sit on the bench at Dynamo. In general, speaking about the current game of Rubin in defence, any defender of the Kazan team can be asked questions.