Andrey Kobelev Bielsa

Russia's Candidates: An In-Depth Analysis

12:36 PMAleks Vee

As promised, the official site of the Russian Football Union revealed the list of potential candidates for the manager of the National Team. (Note that Roberto Mancini is not on the list despite fervent claims that his contract with the Russia NT has been discovered in a safe. Mancini has officially renewed his contract with Manchester City until 2017):

*indicates former Russia NT manager

Rafael Benitez
Anatoliy Byshovets*
Marcelo Bielsa
Valery Gazzaev*
Josep Guardiola
Fabio Capello
Andrey Kobelev
Yuri Krasnozhan
Marcello Lippi
Valery Nepomniachi
Nikolai Pisarev
Harry Redknapp
Yuri Semin*

Stats:
The list includes 6 active managers and 5 managers who have previously worked with a Russia NT.
3 of the managers previously coached the main Russia NT.
4 of the managers have never coached a National Team.
7 of the 13 managers listed are or have been managers at the RPL.
Anatoliy Byshovets has managed the most teams (13).
Marcello Lippi and Valery Nepomniachi both managed 12 teams in their careers.
Marcello Lippi is the manager with the most years of coaching experience (30 years), and Nikolai Pisarev with the least (2 years coaching Association Football).
Marcelo Bielsa coached a National Team for the most number of years (6 years at Argentina).
The oldest manager is Valery Nepomniachi (68 years old) and the youngest Josep Guardiola (41 years old).


Rafael Benitez
Current position: N/A.
Best record at: Liverpool FC

Proof of Benitez's special powers.
Many may remember that Rafa Benitez was previously rumored to become the head coach of Chelsea before Di Matteo took over. Known for getting sky-high results, Benitez got in Liverpool's book of records when he led the team to win two major tournaments, the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Super Cup, during his first two seasons with the club. Prior to his stay at the EPL, Benitez got two La Liga championships with Valencia. Under his management, Inter won the Italian Supercoppa and FIFA Club World Cup the same year. Benitez has been out of work since 2010, so there's no doubt the managerial post will be of interest to him.

Likelihood: 8/10


Anatoliy Byshovets
Current position: N/A.


Despite leading the USSR Olympic team to winning gold and managing three national teams (including Russia), Byshovets's management has been short-lived, producing at most a 2-year spell at any team. He had disappointing results at Lokomotiv Moscow in the RPL, leading the team to 7th place in the league.
Byshovets had a go at managing the Russia NT in 1998. He was sacked after poor results in the qualifying games for the UEFA Euro 2000, where Russia lost out to Ukraine, France, and Iceland in their group. Though the manager who took over led Russia to more wins, the team made third place and therefore failed to qualify for the Euro.


Likelihood: 3/10


Marcelo Bielsa
Current position: Manager at Athletic Bilbao (La Liga)
Best record at: Athletic Bilbao, Argentina NT


Under the management of the Argentine specialist, Athletic Bilbao, who previously occupied sixth place in La Liga, were runners-up in both the Copa del Rey and UEFA Europa League 2011-12. Before training Bilbao, Bielsa managed Argentina's and Chile's National Teams. He was a great success at Argentina in the early 2000's, leading them to the final of the 2004 Copa America and Olympic games. The Argentine team became the first Latin American Olympic gold medalists since 1928. If you were watching the 2010 FIFA World Cup, you probably saw Bielsa's talented Chilean team shine on the pitch. The team, which failed to qualify for the last two World Cups, made it out of a group with the likes of Spain, Switzerland, and Honduras. The Chileans lost 3-0 to Brazil in the Round of 16. Nevertheless, Bielsa's team won against two very formidable teams. Honduras went on to excel in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup, reaching third place with Panama, while Switzerland was the team that beat Spain before Del Bosque's team took home the 2010 World Cup trophy.


Likelihood: 7/10



Valery Gazzaev
Current position: Club President at Alania Vladikavkaz (RPL)
Best record at: FC Dynamo Moscow, CSKA Moscow 


A former Russia NT manager, Gazzaev has worked with clubs like Dynamo Moscow, CSKA Moscow, and Dynamo Kiev. Most of his success has been with Dynamo and CSKA Moscow. He led Dynamo to four major trophy wins in the course of eight years during the Soviet era. Three seems to be his lucky number - he had success both at the League and international levels with CSKA, leading them to three RPL championships, three Russian Cups, and three Russian Super Cups. The club also won the '04-05 UEFA Europa League. Gazzaev has previously managed Russia (2002-2003), but his stay was rather short.

Likelihood: 6/10


Josep Guardiola
Current position: N/A.
Best record at: FC Barcelona

Undoubtedly one of the most interesting candidates, Pep has been nothing but legendary at Barca. With an astonishing win percentage of 72%, Guardiola used his four years at Barca wisely. The club went from lackluster seasons devoid of trophies and losing both the Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup to becoming the first club ever to win six major consecutive tournaments (Barcelona defeated Champions League winners Manchester United, who they lost the final to under manager Frank Rijkaard). Interestingly enough, most of Barcelona's former managers did very well with the team. It was the Champions League title that was so coveted by the club's management, and Guardiola made sure he got two of the three trophies (the team was eliminated in the semi-finals of the '09-10 tournament by Italian club Inter). In just four seasons at Barca, Guardiola managed to win 14 trophies. That's more than most managers win in 14 seasons. Though it is unlikely that the RFU will have enough funds for both his salary and the acquisition of new players, any team should be honored to have such a specialist on board.

Likelihood: 5/10    


Fabio Capello
Current position: N/A.

Best record at: AC Milan

Although largely unsuccessful as a NT coach, Capello has had a respectable amount of success at AC Milan and Real Madrid. Milan had an unbeaten streak of 58 games in the early 90's. The team even defeated Cruyff's Barcelona 4-0 in the 1994 Champions League final (back when Pep Guardiola was a Barca player himself!). Under Capello, Milan were 4-time Serie A champions, had 3 consecutive Supercoppa wins, won the Spring Italian Cup, and had won two international tournaments. Capello had two spells each at Milan and Madrid. Unlike his stay at Milan, Capello's Madrid became La Liga champions during both of his spells. It is difficult, however, to overlook his recent setbacks with England at the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Likelihood: 5/10


Andrey Kobelev 
Current position: Manager at Krylia Sovetov (RPL)

A manager unadorned with stellar results in his 8-year career, Kobelev's longest tenure was at FC Dynamo Moscow. His best result with the team, however, was a 3rd place spot in the Premiership. Considering the fact that his one-season stay at Krylia Sovetov hasn't been long enough to truly paint a picture his coaching skills, this manager remains an unsolved puzzle.

Likelihood: 3/10




Yuri Krasnozhan
Current position: Manager at Russia-2 NT

Best record at: PFC Spartak Nalchik

Having been unfairly accused of participating in match-fixing while at Lokomotiv and unable to play a single game as Anzhi manager due to the management's acquisition of Hiddink, Krasnozhan is another manager who has yet to fulfill his true potential. His success at his native club, Spartak Nalchik, was in promoting the team to the Premier League. He also got the financially-challenged club to 6th place in the League, coming close to Europa League dreams. Had he not resigned to head Lokomotiv, who knows what wonders Krasnozhan might have created. He is clearly a victim of his circumstances. If not selected for the post, he'll continue to manage the Russia-2 NT, whose next game is on August 15th, an international friendly cup against Belgium.

Likelihood: 7/10


Marcello Lippi
Current position: Manager at Guangzhou Evergrande F.C. (CSL)

Best records at: Juventus, Italy NT in 2006

Though largely successful at the club level, Lippi is not a very stable NT manager. Italy won the 2006 FIFA World Cup final in a penalty shootout against France, but didn't make it to the knockout stage of the 2010 tournament. Nevertheless, it should be noted that he won various coaching awards, including the IIHF award for World's Best NT Coach and World's Best Club Coach (you can guess what year he won the NT one). He is also a 3-time Serie A Coach of the Year winner, and rightfully so. Lippi led Juventus to victory in seven different tournaments, including five Serie A championships, four Supercoppa wins, a Europa League win, and the 1996 Champions League (Juventus went on to be runners-up three times after winning the latter). It's likely that his conservative outlook on the game simply works better at the club level, where veteran players are a valuable asset, something that can't always be said for a National Team.

Likelihood: 6/10  


Valery Nepomniachi
Current position: Technical Consultant at CSKA Moscow (RPL) 

Best records at: Cameroon NT, Jeju United FC



The oldest candidate for the managerial post, 68-year-old Nepomniachi has a very interesting managerial record. His first major coaching experience was with the Cameroon National Team. One of the only two NT's he has ever managed, Cameroon qualified for the 1990 World Cup and made the quarter-finals, where they lost to England due to a Gary Lineker penalty in extra time. The other NT he managed was Uzbekistan, who were less successful, losing out in the qualifying stage of the 2006 World Cup. From then on, he coached an astounding variety of Asian teams, earning him several awards for both his coaching and contributions to football. His most successful spell was at South Korean Jeju United, a club that won the K-League Cup and became a first-time Korea FA Cup semi-finalist under his management. There is no doubt he'd do a good job with the Russian team, provided he'd be given the opportunity to assist in obtaining a few new players. If he does take the post, he will be close to matching, though not surpassing, the record for Oldest Coach at a FIFA World Cup (Greece's manager in 2010, Otto Rehhagel, was 71 years old during the tournament).



Likelihood: 6/10




Nikolai Pisarev 
Current position: Manager at Russia U-21 NT

Best record at: Russia National Beach Soccer Team



Aside from coaching Russia's National Beach Soccer Team and leading them to 6 titles and five years of award-winning play, Pisarev is relatively new to the scene. He worked as an assistant at Krylia Sovetov in the RPL, and recently led Russia's U-21 NT to the qualifying round of the 2013 UEFA U-21 European Championship. The team has two more games to play to ensure they qualify, so until early September, we won't really know how well Pisarev has managed to translate his beach football knowledge to the pitch. Unless the RFU decides to take the plunge and hire him pronto!



Likelihood: 3/10



Harry Redknapp
Current position: N/A.

Best records at: Portsmouth, Tottenham



All criticism aside for now, Harry Redknapp has done pretty well at two of the clubs that he's managed, one of which currently plays in the English Premier League. Portsmouth was fairly successful during both of his spells, becoming First Division champions and winning the '07-08 FA Cup. More recently, Redknapp was the fifth most successful manager at Tottenham, winning nearly 49.5% percent of the time with a total record of 98-50-50. The Spurs were Football Leage Cup finalists in '09 and finished in 4th place last season.

Despite Mr. Redknapp's stable results with Tottenham, he would be the worst choice for NT manager. His poor decisions were evident from his stay at West Ham United, where he was sacked in 2001. Though he had had disputes over how transfer money was being spent and apparently left the club “by mutual consent”, he mentioned in a 2007 interview that there was more to the story. Apparently, the Hammers' chairman was about to renew his contract, but Redknapp had spoken with an online fanzine in an unprofessional manner, and the job at West Ham was no longer his for the taking. If you look really closely at Mr. Redknapp's record, you'll see that he was usually sacked not for a club's results, but for negative interpersonal relations with the staff. He is a decent though average manager, but a bad negotiator, and cannot spot talent that's right in front of him, what with his constant benching of Roman Pavlyuchenko during his Spurs spell. There is probably no worse candidate for this position than Redknapp. There is no way the NT would even get to the Round of 16 at the next World Cup under his supervision.

Likelihood: 4/10 (Hopefully that's zero!)


Yuri Semin
Current position: Manager at Dynamo Kiev (UPL)

Best records at: Lokomotiv Moscow, Dynamo Kiev

Semin has worked with the Russia NT before, though very briefly. When the team failed to qualify for the '06 World Cup, Semin left for Dynamo Moscow, where he had little success. He had three spells at Lokomotiv, totaling 18 years. Under his management, Loko won two Premier League championships and were always at the head of the leader board. The average club became five-time Russian Cup champs and two-time Russian Super Cup winners. His success at both clubs went beyond the Premier League and into the realms of international tourneys. Loko were two-time Cup Winners' Cup semi-finalists. His other club, Dynamo Kiev, were Premier League champions as well as UEFA Cup semi-finalists, losing out to longtime rivals and eventual winners Shakhtar Donetsk. Though Kiev would be reluctant to let him go, there's no denying Semin would love to prove himself at the National Team level.

Likelihood: 8/10


According to my in-depth analysis, the top 4 candidates are Rafa Benitez, Yuri Semin, Yuri Krasnozhan, and Marcelo Bielsa. It'll be quite the surprise if the Union picks someone who is not on this list.

Let's see who the RFU chooses!

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