Yuri Semin as head coach of the Moscow Lokomotiv may be replaced by Serbian specialist Marko Nikolic. The former mentor of “Partizan” and “Fehervara” is the main candidate for a 72-year-old Russian in the club are not going to extend the expiring contract, according to media reports.
The Serbian press reported on the interest of the “railwaymen” to Nikolic in March, but at the end of last week new information appeared about his arrival in the Moscow club. According to Hotsport, the 40-year-old specialist has already signed a two-year contract with the Russian club, which will begin on July 1. Together with Nikolic, the team’s coaching staff will be replenished by his permanent assistants Radoe Smilyanich and Goran Basara.
Later, information on the planned coaching reshuffle was published by Sport-Express, citing its own sources. The publication reported that Nikolic had already been to Moscow at Lokomotiv matches several times and continued to closely monitor the team and players. It is alleged that the specialist, if appointed, intends to invite the striker Alexander Kokorin, whose possible return to the club that raised him was reported a month ago.
Nikolic started his coaching career at age 21 at his native Rada, after which he worked at Vojvodina and one of Serbia’s two top clubs, Partizan. In January 2016, the specialist ended up in the Slovenian Olimpia, but did not work for a long time because of a racist scandal - in one of the matches, Nikolic reportedly called the black player Blessing Eleke “a black idiot” for running to celebrate a goal when the match went on and the score was a draw. The coach was disqualified for seven matches and fired from the club.
After that, Nikolic returned to Partizan. Under him, the Belgrade gave out a win-win series of 37 matches, which brought victory in the championship and Serbia Cup. After the two-year contract, the specialist moved to the Hungarian Fehervar, with whom he also won the main national trophies, and in the season 2018/19 he took third place in his group in the Europa League, once having a draw with Chelsea. However, in November last year, Nikolic was fired, according to media reports, due to unsatisfactory results of the team, and since then has remained unemployed. Now Lokomotiv may become the largest club in the track record of a Serbian specialist.
Semin, if the information on the appointment of Nikolic is confirmed, in this case he will be forced to leave the team, which in different years he led to three victories in the Russian championship. His agreement with Lokomotiv was calculated until May 31 and, according to Sport24, will not be extended even until the summer, when the resumption of the Russian championship is expected to be interrupted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Thus, the mentor with a high degree of probability will no longer play a single match at the head of the “railroad”. In this case, the team will play the season in the Russian Premier League, if it continues, with another coach, who may be Nikolic.
According to unconfirmed reports, the general sponsor of the Russian Railways team is going to discuss on May 4 the departure of Semin and an invitation to replace Nikolic in his place.
Syomin’s likely departure from Lokomotiv may be related to the conflict between him and the club’s director general Vasily Kiknadze. They could not agree on the issues of staffing the team and its further development. Because of this, the media have been reporting for several months that next year the 72-year-old trainer will leave the red-green camp.
Semin himself and the leadership of Lokomotiv refused to comment on information about the coaching reshuffle. The chairman of the club’s board of directors, Anatoly Meshcheryakov, called such reports “rumors”.
Now Lokomotiv takes the second place in the Russian football championship with a lag of nine points from the leading Zenit. The wards of Semin have a high chance of breaking into the group stage of the Champions League for the third time in a row, however, Krasnodar, Rostov and CSKA also claim the silver of the current tournament draw. Until the end of the season there are eight more rounds.
Famous football agent Dmitry Selyuk stood up to protect Semin. He is sure that Lokomotiv will do the wrong thing if it changes its current coach to a specialist from Serbia that is little known to the fans.
“Kiknadze spent a year and a half in the status of CEO in constant scandals. Among other things, he could not agree with the salary reduction team. The players expressed their distrust, after which Meshcheryakov took up the matter. And recently, a tragic situation has occurred with Samokhvalov ... And this person wants to remove from Lokomotiv the great coach, the legend of the coaching workshop. And he wants to exchange him for a man sitting without work, expelled from clubs in Hungary and Slovenia, ”Seljuk said.
Agreed with the agent and a former member of the Executive Committee of the RFU, State Duma deputy Igor Lebedev. He is sure that Lokomotiv will be able to perform at a high level only together with Semin. Lebedev advised the club management to still leave the coach.
“In the entire history of Lokomotiv, no one has given such a result as Semin. Yes, in our century there have been separate outbreaks when Anatoly Byshovets and Igor Cherevchenko took the Russian Cup once. Yes, it was, but these are separate bursts. Lokomotiv almost always shared the sixth or ninth position in the Russian Championship without Semin, there were no prerequisites to get into the Champions League zone. Returning back, Semin again made Lokomotiv the champion of the country. Therefore, if I were the president of the club or Russian Railways, I would have worn Yuri Palych in my arms - God grant him good health. Only he gives the result and only with him the club rises to the highest step of Russian football, ”Lebedev recalled.