A month before the resumption of the Russian championship, the leadership of the Moscow Lokomotiv decided to put all the dots on the “i” and explain the reasons for parting with the head coach Yuri Semin. The Director General of the railway workers Vasily Kiknadze not only clarified the situation around the non-renewal of the contract with the specialist, but also told what changes the team would expect in the near future.

Initially, many fans and experts associated the departure of the head coach from Lokomotiv with the internal conflict in the club. The strained relationship between Semin and Kiknadze has been discussed over the past year, and an unsuccessful winter transfer campaign has become another confirmation. In connection with the transfer of Fyodor Smolov to Celta on loan, as well as the injury of Luke Dzhordzhevich, in the clip of the red-greens there was one pronounced striker in the face of Eder. The specialist himself admitted that he turned to the management with a request to purchase a striker, but for various reasons this was not done. At that moment, many suggested that in this way the bosses intentionally put sticks in the wheels of Yuri Pavlovich.

However, as Kiknadze explained, Semin’s departure was not dictated by disagreements between the management and the mentor, but by plans for the club’s development.

“We are entering a new four-year cycle for which a certain strategy and vision has been developed. In this regard, the board of directors decided that it makes sense to have a conversation with the new head coach ... We understood what we needed from the sports component, and we know our requirements. From the point of view of working with youth, Yuri Pavlovich is very difficult to redo. This also applies to the football we want to play in order to promote players to the market, ”Kiknadze said on the Russia 24 television channel.

According to the Director General, in the near future, the railway workers intend to fundamentally change the development strategy, focusing on young football players and their subsequent sale abroad. This is confirmed by an earlier statement by Anatoly Meshcheryakov. Recently, the head of the Lokomotiv board of directors said that in the summer eight players will leave the team at once and that in general the club will be forced to “tighten their belts”.

At the moment, Kiknadze has not confirmed that the main sponsor of Lokomotiv - Russian Railways - intends to reduce funding for the club next season, but did not refute this information. At the same time, he noted that red-green are unlikely to be able to count on the acquisition of expensive age-old legionnaires.

“We understand that we need to look for additional sources of financing. Accordingly, you need to start serious work to promote youth ... You need to learn how to develop your own players, attract young people from other European and Russian teams, and arrange an exit transfer at the age of 24. From this point of view, it is fundamentally important for us to work with the academy, youth team and Kazanka. Nikolic has a clause in the contract on increased attention to this area. In the year and a half that I have been working in the club, I have never managed to get Yuri Pavlovich to the youth games, ”Kiknadze noted.

So, the General Director allowed himself to note that under the leadership of Semin, not enough young Russian football players appeared in the red-green team. And this despite the fact that over the past four years, Rifat Zhemeletdinov has firmly entrenched in the basis of railway workers, Mikhail Lysov, Stanislav Magkeev and Roman Tugarev repeatedly fell into the composition, and the brothers Alexey and Anton Miranchuk with Dmitry Barinov not only became RPL stars and attracted the attention of European clubs , but also staked out places in the Russian team.

Nevertheless, Kiknadze called these successes insufficient and expressed the opinion that Semin could work more fruitfully in terms of the development of young players. In particular, he said that, according to Stanislav Cherchesov, Barinov could start performing at such a high level two years earlier. 

Apparently, the dissatisfaction on the part of the leadership towards Semin was not only in conservatism and the issue of composition formation. As Kiknadze noted, the claims did not concern the brightest game, sharpened for defense, as well as the results of Lokomotiv. And this despite the fact that over the previous three seasons, red-green won the RPL gold and silver medals, and also won the Cup twice and once - the Super Bowl of the country.

“I apologize, but let's not look at the place we are currently occupying. Let's remember where we were at the end of the first part of the championship. We had a crisis. 11 people received muscle non-contact injuries. Some of them repeatedly. This is evidence of stress. And the coach acknowledges this. We have developed a whole program on how to avoid this situation in the future. I think that these are questions for the mentor, ”Kiknadze said.

In addition, the CEO made it clear that in the future Lokomotiv intends to bet on bright, attacking football and will invite coaches that are in line with the club’s concept. According to Kiknadze, it is the style of the game, along with the ability to work with youth, that tipped the scales to the side of Nikolic. Initially, the shortlist featured 18 experts, and some of them are better known to the general public than the 40-year-old Serb, Kiknadze noted.

Interestingly, during his career Nikolic really worked with a number of football players, whose cost is estimated at tens of millions of euros according to Transfermarkt. Of course, Lazio midfielder Sergei Milinkovich-Savich, with whom the mentor worked at Vojvodina, stands out among them. Over the past years, the Serb has been considered one of the most talented midfielders on the planet, and its acquisition will cost the future employer no less than € 64 million. We can also mention Fiorentina partners - defender Nikol Milenkovich (€ 22 million) and striker Dushan Vlahovic ( € 16 million). At the same time, Marco worked with each of them for about a year, and therefore is not fully responsible for their progress.

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Publication from Lokomotiv Football Club (@fclokomotiv) May 14, 2020 at 6:51 PDT

However, Kiknadze’s statement that Lokomotiv intends to focus on the fight not only for getting into the group stage of the Champions League, but also for a successful performance in the tournament itself, looks very optimistic. Provided that next year the team may lose a number of star players and not get them an adequate replacement, the task may not be feasible.

“In the Champions League, you must definitely fight. Why are we adopting a four year strategy? 20% of the budget is Eurocups. But their format will change by 2024: there will be a serious shift towards rich clubs. Either we jump onto the platform of the outgoing train and cling to the European budget, or we are destined to dance our whole life in the Europa League or in the new Confederations League, which plans to start next year, ”said Kiknadze.

It is no secret that over the past week the Lokomotiv CEO has become one of the most criticized leaders in Russian football, and the red-green fans have held several actions in support of Semin. Nevertheless, Kiknadze himself chose not to respond to the actions of the fans and said that they would be judged by the results of the team.

It is noteworthy that the famous sports journalist Vasily Utkin was dissatisfied with the behavior of the fans. According to a former commentator, now a blogger, fans are currently destroying the team they support.

"You say," Wrong parted. " How can you part with a person who does not want to leave? There will come a time when you will need to bring it under your arms. You remember Ferguson. He subordinated himself to the interests of the club, and Semin subordinates the club to his interests. This is quite obvious, and so it is. You just think it’s right, ”Utkin said on his YouTube channel.