Anzhi Makhachkala: The Russians Are Coming

AP0015_Alan Pardew_Newcastle_United_NUFCWho Are They?

Anzhi are from a part of Russia called Dagestan, a ‘federal republic’ in the South between Naboo and Tattooine. The club itself is just over 20 years old and began a second spell in the Russian Premier League in 2010, shortly before being given as a gift to local billionaire Suleyman Kerimov in return for a substantial investment in the team and club infrastructure. It sounds too good to be true but things in the ‘federal republic’ are never without a dark side.

In May of 2011, Anzhi beat Lokomotiv Moscow 2-1 in a game reported to be rigged, leading to the Lokomotiv boss Yuri Krasnozhan being sacked. The Russian Football Union refused to investigate the case, instead giving Krasnozhan a job as manager of quickly formed national team Russia-2. Within a few months Krasnozhan was the new manager of Anzhi and within another few months Russia-2 had been disbanded. Krasnozhan was Anzhi manager for two months before he was sacked, the team not having played a game under him. Suspicious? Not at all, not if they know where I live.

Who manages them:

At the time of this ‘absolutely no scandal at all’ Guus Hiddink was ruining his reputation as a national team manager who could do no wrong. After successfully managing Holland, South Korea, Australia and Russia, who he guided to a Euro 2008 semi final place, Hiddink had failed to secure the Turkey national side a place in Euro 2012 and was approached to take over at Anzhi. In the last 12 months he has continued their development and they are currently second in the Russian Premier League at the half way point.

Apart from having a comedy Dutch accent only bettered by Shteve McClaren, Guush is best known for being regarded as one of the best coaches in the world though it’s worth pointing out at this stage that despite his brilliant record as a national coach, as a club manager his only successes have come at PSV where he won 6 Dutch titles, 4 Dutch cups and a European cup in two different spells. In-between, he won nowt at Fenerbahce, Valencia, Real Madrid and Real Betis.

We know him in England for winning the FA Cup at Chelsea in 2009 but that hardly puts him up there with Mourinho and Guardiola, unless Avram Grant and Roberto Di Matteo are up there too. He is a character though, he once piled into the Mestalla crowd while boss of Valencia to take down an offensive racist banner put up by the home fans. If he carries that crusade on in Russia he’ll be so busy in the crowd he’ll never be able to watch a match.

Who have we seen before:

Samuel Eto’o played for Mallorca when we knocked them out of this competition in 2004 but earns about 200K a week more now and Yuri Zhirkov and Lassana Diarra both played here for Chelsea. Diarra said that it was Eto’o who had persuaded him to join Anzhi from Real Madrid and not the size of the wages on offer.  “He’s like a brother to me,” said Lass, “why can’t we succeed together?” That’s also what Anakin Skywalker said about Obi-Wan Kenobi in Revenge of The Sith.

Layout 1A Special mention for: 

Will.i.an. He’s probably not going to play today and that will be a shame for those who wanted to see the former Black Eyed Peas singer after his shock winter transfer.  Never fear though you Black Eyed Peas fans, rumours are that Nile Ranger is taking up Will.i.an’s place in the band after the conclusion of his very own ‘Where Is The Love’ 2012 tour of Newcastle City Centre in his XR3.

Are we going to win:

Whatever happens let’s hope that it is a million times more exciting and a whole lot warmer than the first leg. Hiddink probably fancies his chances of getting the goals he needs at SJP and the Anzhi players obviously didn’t fancy that ice covered artificial pitch in Moscow, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the old Walker Lightfoot Centre 7-a-side pitches were removed.  Sing the lads to victory tonight, they’ll need our help. You never know, if we get through to the quarter finals, we might be able to go to the away leg this time.

The Mag, Issue 289, 5 April 2014, Newcastle United Magazine, NUFC

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