Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Stalemate as season draws to close

The Russian Premier Liga 2010 is over. Zenit St. Petersburg convincently won the championship while Alania Vladikavkaz will be the unlucky one of joining Sibir Novosibirsk in the Russian First Division next season. Lokomotiv, who had a season full of swings had to content with a creditable fifth place at the end as Loko's draw with Rubin and Spartak's heated derby draw against Dynamo Moscow meant that everything stayed as it was before the match. Although the red-green fans may have amibitioned for a place higher than the one attained, I personally believe that taking everything into account Lokomotiv overall did well and the 5th place was exactly the place which Lokomotiv deserved. Yesterday, with the 4th place still up for the grabs, Lokomotiv tried to snatch a win over outgoing champions Rubin Kazan but at the end had to content for a draw. Although Lokomotiv were better in the second period, the draw was the best result for a match between two teams who failed to hit top gear. Nevertheless, although Lokomotiv failed to find the net, they did well and their good performance was unfortunately marred by a moment of madness from Dmitry Tarasov who was given his marching orders for elbowing an opponent. Unfortunately this ensured that Lokomotiv surpasses the record they set this year of having 10 players sent off in 30 matches. The main contributor to this negative record was the same Dmitry Tarasov, whose last Sunday red card was his third of the season.

For the match against Rubin, Yury Semin fielded the practically the same 11 who took the pitch against Rostov. The only change was Wagner, who came on for the crocked Igor Smolnikov. Moreover for the second time in sucession Rodolfo started in attack while main star Aleksandr Aliev didn't even made it to the bench. Although no questions arosed, this fuelled rumours that Aleksandr Aliev's stay in Moscow was just for a single year. With Yury Semin close to return to Dynamo Kiev, it is probable that the Ukranian ace will follow his mentor and return to the Ukranian capital.

As aforementioned clear-cut chances were hard to come by and actually few were the chances worth of mentioning. Actually, the sizeable cword at the stadium had to wait 25 minutes before witnessing a shot at goal as Sychev's drive was well held by Lithuanian keeper Arlauskis. The next one to threaten was Glushakov whose long range drive was tipped over by the former Unirea Urziceni keeper. From the resultant corner, Basha maybe could have put the hosts ahead but he failed to take advantage from Arlauskis poor judgement and could only head wide. That was all for the first half and with the coaches somewhat pleased with what they were seeing no changes were made the break. If the first half was quite boring the second was even worse as although Lokomotiv enjoyed a better share of possession they find it difficult to find a way past a sturdy Rubin defence. The only chance for Loko fell onto the feet of Glushakov who for once again threatened from this distance. This time round however the ball rattled the crossbar and bounced out. At the other end Martins had the only visitors' chance of goal as after running one-on-one towards Guilherme he failed to get past the brilliant Guilherme, who was on his toes to dive to the ground and snap the ball from the Nigerian's striker feet. Although both Rubin and Loko were resigned for a draw, there was still time for Tarasov to get his marching orders for a inexpicable elbow offence on Sibaya. At the end of the match, the Loko faithful engaged in furious chants against Olga Smorodskaya and as the match ended, Yury Semin made a lap of honour which maybe signalled the end of his tenure at Lokomotiv.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme: 7
Steady as ever. Would not be surprised if Chelsea are truly interested in the Brazilian keeper.
Shishkin: 6.5
I just hope that next year he will be wearing red-green colours
Basha: 6
Steady. Could have scored too.
Durica: 6.5
It's amazing how from practically an outcast he developed into a key defender
Yanbaev: 6
Quite quiet.
Glushakov: 7
Hit the crossbar and was Loko's major threat.
Tarasov: 4.5
Was having a good match but inexplicably and stupidly got himself sent-off.
Loskov: 6
Did well.
Wagner: 5.5
Quite inexistent
Sychev: 6
Not really much he could do.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Tomorrow's match can be Semin's last....

Tomorrow the curtain will fall down on the 2010 season and thus Lokomotiv will play the last match of the season. The encounter, which will be against outgoing champions Rubin Kazan, will be played at Lokomotiv. Although Lokomotiv potentially didn't did well as many may have expected, in a way and another Lokomotiv managed to find its way and clinch an Europa League spot. Comparing what the other four above us spent with our expenditure, I must say that the 5th place or an even better potential 4 place will be a good one in the end.

Given that Lokomotiv to a certain extent have nothing much to play for, the fans were more focused in making their voices heard rather then the match itself. Don't get me wrong, we fans want a win and possibly the 4th place, but we really want is that next year Yury Semin will still be at the helm. Unfortunately, consistent reports that Semin will leave Lokomotiv at the end of the season had been emerging recently and thus the red-green fans prepared so that tomorrow they will make their feeling known that they don't want no else their father, Semin.

Many talked about chants against the president, banners or even t-shirts, and even calls to Yakunin to sack the same Smorodskaya. Sadly and regretfully, it is believed these actions will be useless as it was reported that Semin's fate was already decided....and yeah it's away from Moscow. The media also reported that Krasnozhan was approached by Lokomotiv and the move is all but official. Although we Lokomotiv fans are still abstaining from believing such "rumours", I think that tomorrow will be Semin's last. This is because Oleg Luzhny, current Dynamo Kiev manager stated that today's match versus Sevastopol was his last as manager and eventually this fueled reports that the next Dynamo Kiev manager is going to be no one else Semin. To make matters worse for us fans, it is understood that Aliev won't even play tomorrow because should Semin leave, Aliev would be in Kiev before our Yury even lands in the Ukranian capital.

Tomorrow will our's last match of the season...and maybe even Yury Semin's last. To say the truth I am resigned to such departure and so I just hope that our bloody and damn management release the news to our fans. The reason is that we fans who REALLY LOVE OUR CLUB will have the opportunity to give a deserved farewell to the man WHO BUILT LOKOMOTIV. Thanks Yury. Hope that someday we welcome you back!!


PS Fuck you Olga!! Just leave, please!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lokomotiv looking to Florescu and Šćepović

According to various reports emanating from Romania, Lokomotiv Moscow are closing on the signature of Gheorghe Florescu. The media reported that the talks with the midfielder are at an advanced stage and it is likely that in 2011, the diminutive Romanian international could be wearing the red-green Puma shirt of Lokomotiv. Although this rumour was confirmed by the former Torpedo Moscow man himself, he stated that the deal is far from done and actually Lokomotiv Moscow aren't the only "big club" that are following his signature. He made use of such term because currently he plies his trade for Alania Vladikavkaz and he already made it known that he is eager to move on to a bigger club.

Throughout his career, the 26-year old Cluj-Napoca born turned out for Universitatea Cluj, Sheriff Tiraspol, Torpedo Moscow, Midtjylland and finally Alania Vladikazkaz. He made his debut for Romania last March and to date he made 7 appearances and scored a goal.

~~~~ Šćepović moving to Moscow? ~~~~

In addition to the Romanian, Lokomotiv Moscow are also looking to Marko Šćepović, a 19 year old striker who currently plays for Partizan Belgrade. The striker, who made waves in the Serbian football community with his fantastic start this season is interesting Lokomotiv because his attributes match those required by Lokomotiv. This is because the striker, with his 1.89m enjoys impressive aerial ability and often drops deeper to start an attack. Moreover the Belgrade born youngster also possesses a keen positional sense and an extremly powerful shot. It is believed that the striker will command a fee of around 600k euros.

Moreover, apart of his impressive performances for the men in black, the striker managed to find the net 5 times in 6 outings for the Serbian U-19 national team. Certainly a one for the future!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lokomotiv win and book their place in the Europa League

Following Lokomotiv's last week slow down against Sibir Novosibirsk, yesterday a win was imperative in order to continue to challenge for an Europa League slot. Thankfully, Lokomotiv delivered and with Spartak Nalchik's result against Amkar going into our way, it meant that Nalchik's loss was Loko's gain as it guaranteed Thursday European football next season. Moreover, while the fifth place is guaranteed, Lokomotiv may even surpass Spartak Moscow to the fourth place if Spartak fail to win and Lokomotiv manage to win at home versus Rubin Kazan. Apart of the fact that it would be pleasant to overcome our rivals and finish the season in the same position we finished last year, such 4th place would mean that Lokomotiv will skip the 2011-2012 UEFA Europa League third qualifying round and goes directly into the Play-off round! Nevertheless, should Lokomotiv fail to surpass Spartak, for sure the guys should be proud of what they have done in the last 2 months. This because of the disastrous August few were betting on Lokomotiv that coming the end of the season they will be in an Europe qualifying position. Lokomotiv, by showing tremendous character replied to the critics and by making a considerable improvement in their performances, they managed to move up the ladder and give their fans European football nights. Recall that last August Lokomotiv were languishing in the 9th place.

For the match in Rostov-na-donu, Yury Semin welcomed Jan Durica back from suspension and together with Marko Basha, the two were re-installed at the back. This meant that while Asatiani was relegated to the bench, Rodolfo retained his place in the initial line-up and as happened in the second period of the match versus Sibir, the big Brazilian defender played as a striker. Dmitry Sychev assisted him while Igor Smolnikov kept his place on the right. Loskov captained the side while Denis Glushakov and Dmitry Tarasov ran the midfield for Lokomotiv. Obviously, Guilherme started in goal and such appearance ensured him that next week he can make the 50th league appearance for Lokomotiv Moscow.

Although Rostov had nothing to play for, they came out looking to impress and give their fans something to cheer about in the last home match of the season. Eventually Semin saw this and in the opening minutes Lokomotiv were happy to let Rostov take the iniative and try to hit them on the counter. Eventually the hosts were the first to threaten as Dragan's Blatnyak long range freekick bounced onto the crossbar. Thankfully Roman Shishkin was agile enough to clear into a corner as two Rostov's strikers were ready to pounce onto the lose ball. Rostov threatened once again with a close header and moments later on-loan midfielder Aleksandr Pavlenko went for the spectalur with a personal initiative. However Guilherme was on his toes to dive to his left and gather the ball. On the half-hour mark, finally Lokomotiv registered a shot at goal as Yanbaev tried to surprise Radic from distance. Moments later Rodolfo was the next one to threaten as his curling goal-bound shot brought out a finger-tip save from Radic. From the resultant corner and subsequent action, Lokomotiv were awarded a penalty for an adjudged hands from Zivanovic. Rostov players protested furiously but replays showed that the ref was quite right to whistle for a penalty as the hands was more intentional than not. In the absence of Aliev, Loskov stepped up for the penalty, but incredibly Loskov's effort was brilliantly saved from Radic, albeit with the help of the crossbar. The ball fell onto the path of Loskov again who tried to redeem himself with a diving header but amazingly the keeper was already on his feet to tip the ball away. Incredible double save from Loskov! That was all in the first half as Lokomotiv had the endure tough luck for the second week in the running. Nevertheless prior to the break Yury Semin was forced to make the first substitution as Smolnikov had to go off due to an injury. Gatagov came on for the injured right-winger, who according to recent reports won't be available for the next match. Get well soon Igor!

Despite the penalty setback, Lokomotiv came out for the second full of iniative and within 7 minutes they went broke the deadlock with the once famous Loskov-Sychev combination. Loskov picked the ball at the middle of the park and with Sychev on the verge of the offside line, Loskov hit Rostov on the counter by playing a pinpoint ball to Sychev, who after running a bit to centre shot through the legs of Radic and onto the net. Sychev was ecstatic. Unfortunately, within five minutes Rostov were level as the hosts gave the visitors a doze of their own medicine. Former red-green Lebedenko was fouled by Shishkin and up stepped Blatnajk, who following his near miss in the opening 10 minutes , this time went closer and pulled off an Aliev. 1-1 and game on. However, barely 2 minutes passed and Lokomotiv were ahead once again. Denis Glushakov passed a perfect ball to Rodolfo, who after turning around the box, striked a pin point shot which gave Radic no chance. Perfect finish! Lokomotiv could have closed the match minutes later but after running one-on-one towards Radic, his effort went well wide. Fortunately this time round Lokomotiv weren't castigated for this miss as Lokomotiv saw out the remaining minutes and managed to hold on for an important victory which guaranteed Lokomotiv European football next season. Obviously Lokomotiv risked something during the last minutes but Guilherme stood on two particular occasions and was equal to the task. Well done Lokomotiv!! But also thanks must to to Amkar Perm because their win ensured that Lokomotiv will be playing European football next season.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 7
Did extremly well. Need to improve his goalkicks though
Shishkin - 6.5
Did well. Defensively sound and strong going forward
Basha - 6.5
Good match from the Montenegrin defender
Durica - 6.5
Much like his college
Yanbaev - 5.5
We Loko fans are accustomed to better. Did nothing wrong thou.
Tarasov - 8
A giant at the middle of the park. Personally the man of the match. Won countless balls and ran the midfield for Lokomotiv.
Glushakov - 7
Strong showing from the no. 8. Assisted Rodolfo for the winner.
Loskov - 6.5
Missed a penalty but redeemed himself by assisting Sychev for the opener.
Smolnikov - N/A
Went-off early due to injury.
Sychev - 7
Scored the opener. Backtracked well to help his colleges
Rodolfo - 7.5
When a defender plays as a striker and scores a goal, well, he did more than well. Brought the ball down well for his teammates very well too.
Gatagov - 5.5
Missed a chance. Never got going.
Wagner - N/A
Should have scored with a close ranged header.
Asatiani - N/A
Introduced to waste time and to assist in defence.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Asatiani and Shishkin could leave, Rodolfo may follow

According to sovsport.ru, three players, all defenders, could leave the club at the end of the season. The three in question are long serving Malkhaz Asatiani, recently arrived Roman Shishkin and vice-captain Rodolfo.

The leading Russian sporting website reported that Lokomotiv intends to put Rodolfo Dantas Bispo on the transfer list as it is believed that the red-green are not counting on the former Dynamo Kiev man for the upcoming season. Although there was no transfer fee mentioned nor any potential suitors, it is believed that Lokomotiv may look out for good a fee as apart of his undisputed talent, the Brazilian centre back has still 3 years left on his contract. This season Rodolfo made just 14 appearances and scored 1 goal in the process.

On the other hand, Asatiani and Shishkin could leave the club because their contract expires at the end of the season and the people at the top are reluctant to offer the duo a contract. While to a certain extent I understand Loko's reluctancy to offer the ageing Asatiani an extention, I find it literally absurd that Lokomotiv may let Shishkin leave. This is because Shishkin, who joined Lokomotiv just 3 months ago, made the right back position his own and developed into a first team player. Moreover, I believe that in recent months he was one of the best performers and one of the few who mantained a level of consistenty. Actually, in light of all this I am amazed how our hierarchy failed to notice this as personally, in the last 3 months and so he was one of the best rightbacks of the Russian Premier League. However, this doesn't mean that his performances didn't went unnoticed as Dick Advocaat, the Russian National Manager, rewarded his recent exploits by calling him up for the encounter against Belgium...if only our mad women/men at the top follow his example and reward him a deserving contract!! I just hope so as I believe that apart of the fact it's difficult to find a right back of Shishkin's level, any player won't come cheap and that could be a potential stumbling block as recently our spending power has unfortunately shrinked by lot.

I just hope that coming next year the number 4 and 49 will be worn by Rodolfo and Shishkin respectively! I really hope so!! We want the club to move forward and not backwards!! Please wake up before it will be all too late!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Lokomotiv Moscow held at bay

Today, with just 2 rounds remaining the stage was set for an epic encounter between two teams who are in dire need of points as while the hosts are pushing for an Europa League place, the visitors knew that only a victory would have kept their chances of saving themselves from the agony of relegation open. Unfortunately neither team was able to win and both had to content with a draw which pleased no one. This is because while Lokomotiv lost the chance to leapfrog Spartak Nalchik by two points, Sibir Novosibirsk's failure to win the game meant that next season they will be playing First Division football. A pity. This is because despite all their limitations, Sibir played one of the most exciting football in the Premier League and for sure deserved anything better than relegation. Anyways that's football and while for sure Sibir fans are very disappointed, our set of supporters aren't for sure better. This is because although Lokomotiv dominated from start to finish and created a clear cut chance after another, they couldn't turn such dominance into goals. Obviously Sibir had their share of luck but for sure blame should also be put onto our forwards who in certain circumstances should have done better. At first view this phrase may refer to Gatagov who done the impossible and missed an opel goal from 2 metres but in truth it isn't. This is because although it's obvious that Gatagov should have done a lot better, there were other player or two who failed to perform and were visibly complacent. Unfortunately, Lokomotiv were made to pay a high price for such complacency as with minutes remaining and against the run of play, Sibir scored a goal in almost an identical manner of the one Sibir scored last August against us.

Inexplicably, Yury Semin opted to give Malkhaz Asatiani a rare start while Rodolfo replaced the suspended Jan Durica as left centreback. Guilherme started in goal while Shishkin and Yanbaev started on the flanks. Denis Glushakov, who recently cemented his place in the starting eleven mantained his place while Dmitry Tarasov was dropped in favour of Igor Smolnikov, who started on the right. Loskov and Aliev supported Sychev while Torbinsky started on the left.

Lokomotiv, with the intent of opening the score and ease some pressure came out aggresively and within 3 minutes Glushakov severily troubled Solosin with a long range drive. Minutes later Torbinsky provided an inviting cross to Smolnikov who from a good position could only hit poorly. Despite the high intensity start, the hosts couldn't keep up with the momentum and although they enjoyed the lion share of possesion, the low tempo meant that Solosin rarely called was onto action. By then the match became quite boring and the fact that up to the 35th minute the referee just whistled 6 fouls in all signified this. And eventually, apart of a half-a-chance apiece there was no final drama as the referee, who was the only enjoying the game (due to the low work involved) whistled for the break.

Yury Semin, knowing that something has to change but having no striker at his disposal opted for a decision which mystified not one but many. Tarasov came in for Torbinsky but instead of positioning himself at the middle of the park, he slotted in at the back to partner Asatiani. Those present at the stadium or watching the match were left bewildered by such decision and for some moments were left wondering what Semin had in mind. Nevertheless as both sides settled down and the formation started to take shape, everything became clear. What happened was that given that Semin had no strikers, he moved Rodolfo into attack together with Sychev and put Tarasov at the back. What's even more surprising was the fact that on the bench there were two centrebacks in the form of Burlak and Marko Basa. Anyways, although such change raised an eyebrow or two, Semin proved the doubters wrong as from the initial minute Lokomotiv were visibly a much better and organized unit. Nevertheless, despite such improvement Lokomotiv still failed to test Solosin and actually had to wait till the hour stroke in order to create something of note and heep some pressure on the visitors. The first one to try his luck was Dmtriy Loskov, who from a decent position could only send the ball into the orbit. Seconds later, in a subsequent fashion, both Aliev and Rodolfo tried to surprise Solosin from distance, but as all their predecessors they couldn't break the dreadlock. Nevertheless Lokomotiv, pushed by the home crowd continued to pressure the relegation battlers and finally they managed to open the score. Dmitry Sychev who after battling well between three opponents for the ball managed to break free and after dumming Vychodil, he powerfully struck onto the right bottom corner thus giving the keeper no chance at all. Lokomotiv Stadium erupted. Lokomotiv immediately gained confidence and actually within 3 minutes they could have put the match to bet. This however wasn't to be as Gatagov unbelievally spurned a chance that for sure he will remember for ever. What happened was that after Solosin failed to handle Aliev long range freekick and subsequently Sychev's and Loskov's effort, the ball stopped some metre and a half away from the goaline and with practically an open goal and few pressure, the prospective left winger instead of crushing the ball towards the goal went for the spectacular and tried to angle his effort. Unfortunately and to the amazement of the hosts, Gatagov miserably failed his effort and Sibir players together with those in red couldn't believe just what happened. The whole stadium felt cold while Gatagov was close to burst into tears!! Poor guy!! Nevertheless, this only showed things to come! Seconds later the bar came to the rescue for Sibir from a pinpoint Rodolfo header and just seconds later Rodolfo brought out the very best from Solosin with another immaculative header. Sibir tried to reply and in a rare attack they nearly shocked the home crowd but thankfully Guilherme was alert to parry the ball away. With ten minutes to go the crossbar once again came rescued Sibir as Sychev was denied a deserved beauty. Semin, keeping in mind that Sibir are the kings of very late late goals withdrew Aliev for the youngster Burlak. Although I was still weary that we could drop points at the death end, for a reason or another I felt more comfortable and confident when I saw a defender coming on...but hell, I was wrong. Sibir were awarded a freekick and with the home players concentrated on heading out any potential cross, they literally forgot Molosh unmarked at the middle of the park. In poor words they allowed him to do what he is best at, that is hammering goals from impossible ranges. The Belarussian left-back took advantage and to the disbelief of the crowd, Sibir drew the match. Loko players were left shell shocked while Sibir were visibly motivated and had the believe that they could snatch a memorable winner. However with the time running out, Sibir couldn't ride their luck and eventually had to settle for a draw which condemned them to relegation. On the other hand Lokomotiv were left rueing two dropped points which coming the end of the season may prove costly. Anyways while I wish the best of luck to our players for the remaining two matches, I wish Sibir a speedy return back to the Premier League. On the other I would like to congratulate Zenit St. Petersburg who yesterday were crowned post-Soviet Russian Champions for the second time in their history. Congratulations!

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 6.5
Did one great stop on Grzelak. Nothing much to do with Molosh thunderbolt.
Shishkin - 8
I just hope that the Loko hierarchy were watching the match. This is because I just can't understand how they are mulling over offering him a contract extension or not. Unbelievable!! Please wake up before we lose a player which may not even decently replace!
Asatiani - 6
Steady but unspectacular
Rodolfo - 8
Strong at the back, irresistable in attack. If only he had 1% luck of Inzaghi's...
Yanbaev - 6
His final ball was often lacking
Glushakov - 7.5
Another great showing from the Lokomotiv midfielder. Never stopped running and troubled Solosin on several times too.
Smolnikov - 5.5
Tried to take the initiative but the lack of match practice was evident. Moreover often let down by the final ball
Loskov - 6
Tried to inspire. Could have done better with that chance.
Aliev - 6
His corners were great but his freekicks left much to be desired.
Torbinsky - 5
Poor. Replaced at half time.
Sychev - 8
Scored a great goal and denied an even greater one.

Tarasov - 6
Played out of position. Cannot be blamed
Gatagov - N/A
Better not to award a rating. I just hope that he is mentally strong enough to overcome such disappointment. Looking back won't help. Pluck up some courage man!
Burlak - N/A
Came on to shore the defence but failed. Not to blame thou

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lokomotiv squashes Milanovic reports

Yesterday, the Italian media (in particular spotmediaset.it and skysports 24) reported that Juventus pulled off a coup by signing Lokomotiv's prospective defender Milan Milanovic for a paltry sum of 400k euros. The website portal even stated that the reason for such a small fee is due to the fact that Milan Milanovic's contract expires next March.

However hours later Lokomotiv Moscow correspondent Andrey Bubnov squashed such rumours and stated that there was no formal contact between Juventus and Lokomotiv. He continued by outlining the fact that to date, the only formal approach was made by AC Milan. Moreover, unlike what appeared in the Italian media, Milan Milanovic's contract expires in 2013 and not next year. And unlike what appeared on the Italian media, this is a fact. If you log on onto Lokomotiv's website and view Milanovic's profile, you can read the following sentence "Milan Milanovic joined Lokomotiv in March 2008 and signed a five year contract". This means that the contract will expire in 2013.

Although for long time Milan Milanovic have been deemed as one of the best defenders at his age, Milan has yet to make his debut for Lokomotiv. Obviously it's a pity to have a reputed defender who fail to make it to the first eleven but I never saw him play and I can't say what he's capable of. All what I can say is that even his reputation is worth more than 400k, let alone his believed talent.

Finally, an advise to Milos Krasic...please stop pretending to be a scout and recommend players from CSKA's Moscow rivals. If there is a player whose good as, or even better than Milanovic, that is Uros Cosic and currently he plays for his former side CSKA Moscow. Moreover like Milan, he is Serbian too. Milos Krasic should concentrate on playing fairly rather than diving and scouting and try to lure a good player away from us for a pittance. As vice-president Yury Belous said later, Lokomotiv may let the player leave if we receive a good offer. So dear Juve if you want the man, show us the money.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall tops Tippeligaen scoring charts

Do you remember Baye Djiby Fall? The striker who joined Lokomotiv in January 2009 and went on to make 11 appearances without scoring a single goal? Well that striker, who after failing to adapt to the Russian game was loaned to Molde FK, showed everyone what he is capable of and justified that maybe he has a future at a higher level. This because although he turned out for a side who could only only finish in the bottom half of the Tippeligaen (Norway's top division), the Senegalese striker managed to top the scoring charts by hitting in 16 goals from 28 appearances. Moreover he managed to score 2 goals in 4 Europa League ties and a goal in 2 Norwegian Cup encounters.

Although based on such form the player can surely have a future at Lokomotiv, Norwegian portals are reporting that the player is still unaware where his future lies. They stated that the reason behind all this is all because recently there were some changes in the leadership and tge new hierarchy still haven't figured out the future of the Senegalese striker. The same Norwegian portal continuted by reporting that the striker, whose contract expire at the end of next yearm could yet move on again as Loko may be looking either to cash in or loan him out again. Obviously those rumours have been only emanating from Norway as to date in Russia nothing had appeared in the media.

Although I admit that last year he disappointed, I believe that the striker should be given another chance as although the Norwegian division is no English Premier or Italian Serie A, it's still requires some talent to top the scoring charts and thus this shows that Fall has enough talent to make it at Lokomotiv. However given all the uncertainty surrounding the club, all we can do is wait for developments and wish him loads of luck in the case he stays for us!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Lokomotiv Semin-less?

According to Lokomotiv club President Olga Smorodskaya and sport director Yury Belous, Lokomotiv Moscow are already planning for the next season. Sadly for us Loko fans, there is a huge possibility that our beloved Yury Semin won't be part of such plans. Actually in recent days rumours have intensified and as many names have been linked with the Lokomotiv post, many have been stating that the future of Yury Semin is already sealed. Unfortunately such future lies away from Moscow. Circumstances haven't helped either as the recent sack of Valery Gazzev from Dynamo Kiev fueled rumours that Semin will be leaving Moscow for Kiev rather sooner than later. Many believe that the person behind Semin's departure is Olga Smorodskaya. Actually from what we've seen and had been said, it's easy to conclude that the two never enjoyed a good relationship. Although Lokomotiv were aiming higher than the fifth place they are currently at, it must be said that Semin is the least one to blame and so no one can declare that Semin will be sacked due to poor performance. Signing a striker and a winger in the form of Pavlyuchenko or Milevskiy and Izmailov respectively were his priority but for a reason and another the Lokomotiv hierarchy failed to satisfy his demands and thus Semin had to work with a sub-standard Dramane Traore and an unmotivated Peter Odemwingie. A pity. For sure you can't compare the squads of Zenit, CSKA, Spartak, Rubin Kazan and even Dynamo Moscow with that of us. While the 5 aforementiond spent heavily in the summer, in particular Zenit, Spartak and Rubin, we only brought in Shishkin for 0.5mln euros and Loskov. Don't get me wrong, they were both good buys but what Lokomotiv really needed was a striker and unfortunately no one came.

Anyways, although everyone in the circus is rebuffing all rumours, it is no surprise that the Dynamo Kiev president Ihor Surkis would welcome back Semin with open arms and with all the names circulating around, I believe that for sure there's is something going on. Sadly I believe that next year our beloved Yury Semin won't be there. Anyways, as everything in life, should the rumours come to fruition, Lokomotiv will have to move on and make sure to bring in a manager who is competent for a post of a big club like ours. As aforementioned many names have been circulating around and thus in the next paragraphs I will be listing some potential names who could take over Lokomotiv if Semin does leave.

1. The most favourite by the media to replace Yury Semin is Spartak Nalchik's Yury Krasnozhan. Yury, whose playing career includes spells at the same Nalchik and Avtozapchast Baksan was installed as Spartak Nalchik's manager back in 2004. Despite lack of finanacial backing and far from a decent infrastructure, he managed to lead Spartak first to the Premier Division and then subsequently helping them to beat drops in succession. Nowadays, 6 years on, his club challenging our team for a place in the Europa League. Although the squad at his disposal (with all due respect to Nalchik) isn't half good as Loko's on paper, he managed to create a strong unit enough to lead the Russian Premier League for six weeks in succession. Not bad at all!! However, although what he did at Nalchik is truly admiring, I truly fear that Krasnozhan could be another Rashid Rakhimov - that is someone who do well with an average side but fail to get going with a big side like ours.

2. Should Semin leave, Lokomotiv fans believe that the vacant post should be given to Vladimir Maminov, Semin's current assistant manager. Apart from the fact that Maminov have been around like no one else, 18 years to be exact, he learned his trade from Yury Semin and thus the Loko fans will be happy to see a bit of "Semin's" in Maminov's approach. Another point which back Maminov is that in the short period he managed Lokomotiv, the red-green did pretty well and this signifies that although he is just 36 years old, the coach will be respected by the players. Moreover during that short stint he showed that he can handle pressure as his 2-1 victory versus arch-rivals Spartak was the highest point of his short tenure which included 3 wins and a draw from 5 matches.

3. Viktor Goncharenko, famous for being the youngest ever manager (31 years) to lead a team in the final group stage of the UEFA Champions League, is another manager being linked with the Lokomotiv post. Viktor Goncharenko, who manages Belarussian powerhouse BATE Borisov is already a proven winner as at just 33 years of age he already achieved a thing or two. The Khoiniki-born manager, whose playing career was cut short due to a horrific injury he suffered when he was just 25 years, took the reigns of BATE Borisov in 2007. During those years, Viktor Goncharenko, who learned his trade from Belarussian specialists Yuri Puntus and Igor Kriushenko, lead the outfit from Borisov to two Belarussian Leagues and one super cup. Morevoer another one is practically on the way as they currently enjoy 6 points gap over 2nd place Shakhtyor Soligorsk with 2 matches to go. In addition, BATE Borisov are doing particulary well in the Europa League as they are topping a group which includes Dynamo Kiev and AZ Alkmaar. Could result to be quite a good coach for Lokomotiv.

4. Another one mentioned was Valery Gazzaev. The former CSKA Moscow tactician, who won 4 Russian Championships, 4 Russian Cups and a UEFA Cup isn't liked by the Lokomotiv fans and thus I believe that it will be a huge foul if Olga Smorodskaya chooses to install Valery as the one to replace Semin.

5. Slavoljub Muslin was an another manager which was put into the mix. The Serbian manager, who managed Lokomotiv back in 2006 is currently without a club and he stated that he will be eager to return to Lokomotiv in order to finish the business. This because in that single year Muslin failed to bring any silverware to Lokomotiv, even if at one point in time he lead Lokomotiv to an 18-match unbeaten streak. Recall that Muslin was sacked because after leading Lokomotiv to the summit of the Russian Premier League for much of 2006, in October Loko's form suffered and recorded some indifferent results which culminated in the elimination in UEFA Cup's first round to Belgian side S.V. Zulte Waregem and the surrender of the league position to CSKA Moscow. Although he is a fan favourite after Semin, I don't think that Muslin will be a good choice due to recent poor peformances with various clubs.

What are your preferences?
Speaking for myself, obviously I would prefer if Yury Semin remains here but should he leave, my first preference is Vladimir Maminov. Otherwise I believe that the job should be given to Viktor Goncharenko.

Stalemate in Vladikavkaz

Playing 3 times away from Moscow in succession was never going to be an easy task and thus 3 wins out of 3 were deemed quite impossible. Unfortunately the task was made even harder because in the last two matches, Lokomotiv were left to play a man down for much of the time. On Sunday, Durica, who was never shown a straight red card throughout his career, was the one to be shown his marching orders for comitting a "last man" offence. Unlike last week, this time round the referee was shown to sent-off our defender as a last man offence is always a penalty or freekick and a red card. To make it worse for us, the offence took place in our box and as a result Alania were awarded a penalty. Fortunately for us, the Caucasians failed to capitalise and thus at the end, I might say that even if he left his teammates in a precarious position, Durica may have did the right thing as surely the onrushing Alania striker would have buried home.

Alas, due to internet problems which have been tormenting me during the last few days, I wasn't able to watch the match and thus truly apart from a small summary, I can't really say anything. From a match footage I've viewed (click here), I deem that even when Lokomotiv went down to 10 men, Alania Vladikavkaz failed to threatened and actually it was only on one occasion which Alania could have broken the deadlock as Arsen Khubulov's long range shot rattled the crossbar. At the other end of the pitch, Lokomotiv had one particular chance which should they have worked it better, Loko could have came out with the whole 3 points from Republican stadium Spartak. Pity, but well at least we managed to hang on for a goalless draw.

With regards to the players, from what I've saw on several Lokomotiv blogs I must say that the two who impressed the most were Guilherme and Glushakov. On the other hand, more was exptected from Aliev and Wagner and some also blamed Durica as they've believed that eleven against eleven Lokomotiv would have fared better. Fair point. Another player who let down the fans was Tarasov because it was his missed header which forced Durica to commit the offence which eventually turned the match in favour of Alania.

Anyways, although we failed to win, we're still occupying the fifth place due to a better head-to-head record but with a match versus Rubin Kazan still looming and Spartak Nalchik down the neck, we should make sure to do our best and win the remaining matches in order to spare unpleasant surprises at the conclusion of the championship. Let's hope for the best!!

Monday, November 1, 2010

10-men Lokomotiv snatch late winner

In a weekend where our main rivals for the last European slot, that is Spartak Nalchik dropped precious points it was imperative for Lokomotiv to win their encounter against Anzhi. Unfortunately playing at Anzhi is never an easy ride and eventually Lokomotiv were made to sweat to bring home the three points. The mission was made even difficult by the referee's blatant decision to send-off Basha for a non-existent second offence at the death of the first half. The match, which was determined by Dmitry Sychev's powerful shot at the 89th minutes, was a match of two tales. In the first half Lokomotiv Moscow were practically dominant while in the second period Anzhi had more of the play and had several occasions where they may had put Lokomotiv to the sword. Fortunately for us, Anzhi weren't composed enough and thus Lokomotiv rode their luck and eventually snatched the unlikely late winner. Apart of Sychev, who throughout all match was inspiring, Guilherme continued to instill confidence in the Loko backline by producing a reassured performance. Durica was another one who performed while Yanbaev made a huge improvement. Aliev & Loskov exchanged their roles very well whil Torbinsky, who started well on the left faded soon as he was switched on the right flank. A pity. Moreover, the red-card earned by Marko Basha ensured that Lokomotiv reach the negative record achieved by Shinnik Yaroslavl in 2008 of having 8 players sent-off in a single season. Sadly, with four matches remaining, there is every possibility that Lokomotiv break Shinnik's record coming the end of the season.

Lokomotiv, whose initial line-up was the same of last weekend, started brightly and within just two minutes the red-green could have been already one-nil up. Shishkin cross from the right found the Sychev who on the run headed to the bottom corner of the net. The ball looked destined for the net but Ilja Abaev had other plans as he dived well to his right and managed to reach the ball. Anzhi replied moments later through Tsoraev and within 15 minutes it was clear that the match was going to be an entertaining one as it was clear that both teams went out looking for the goal. Guilherme was called onto action with 15 minutes on the clock while moments later Aliev exhanged the favour twice. Both counterparts failed to slow down the tempo and although composure and accuracy were clearly lacking, for sure it was a great match for the much-maligned Anzhi supporters. On the half-on-hour mark Abaev was called onto action once again to pick up the ball from the onrushing Sychev. Tarasov and Aliev were the next to two to try their luck from range, but had no success. With 5 minutes remaining, it was all Lokomotiv and the hosts had to withstand a lot of pressure from the visitors. Nontheless Lokomotiv had no luck and things went from bad to worse as in a counter attack, Basha was adjudged to had illegally stopped the Anzhi striker and the referee was not only wrong to award the fall for the hosts but even made the mistake to show Marko the second yellow card followed by the red one. Basha couldn't believe what he was witnessing. His teammates were furious as it was clear that Basha first touch was that of the ball. There was no final drama in the first period as amidst protests the ref sent both set of players to the dressing rooms.

With a man missing at the back, Semin was forced to change something and thus withdrew Torbinsky in order to make way to Malkhaz Asatiani. Despite being in a numerical disadvantage Lokomotiv started very well and twice threatened Abaev. Nevertheless, with every minute passing by, the Loko players began to tire out and Anzhi started to play the ball in a more confident manner, thus winning metres in the process. On the 55th minute Jan Holenda was presented a golden opportunity to open the score but from just 7 metres he failed to trouble Guilherme. Minutes later Ivanov was the next to threaten while on the 65th minute Josan's shot brought out the best from Guilherme. On the 72th minute, Tsoraev should have hit the back of the net as after whizzing past Tarasov, from 3 metres out and with only the keeper to beat he could only hit the crossbar. At the other end, luck spared Abaev a blunder as he failed to connect with a back pass but fortunately for him the ball rolled out just inches away from the left post. The home crowd breath a sigh of relief. With no further action for the next 10 minutes, both were resigned for a draw. However the hosts had other plans on mind as in a last gasp effort the red-green managed to break the dreadlock. Aliev did well down the right and after driving down very well on the right his heavy touch of the ball allowed it to fell onto the path of Sychev who without thinking twice smashed the ball towards the roof of the net. The players and the management looked ecstatic while the crowd, disgusted towards the proceedings started to leave the stadium early. Nevertheless, once again and with the aid of the referee who failed to punish the Anzhi strikers for a clear foul, were presented a clear chance but from 10 metres out the man in white blasted over and high. The hosts were clearly disgusted by the ref and soon rushed towards the man in black to give a him a piece of their mind - and righlty so! The red card to Basha was harsh but this one was even worse! Nevertheless there was no final drama and Lokomotiv were left to celebrate another important step towards an Europa League slot. On the other hand the situation looks to be doom and gloom for Anzhi as should they fail to start winning soon they can start waving goodbye to the Premier League after just one season. Highlights of the match can be viewed by clicking here.

Player Ratings:
Guilherme - 7.5
Solid and confident. King in the air.
Shishkin - 7
Defended very well and was a nuisance for Anzhi whenver Lokomotiv attacked.
Basha - 5
First yellow card was quite dubious but the second one was a complete rip-off. Unlucky.
Durica - 6.5
Did well but visibly missed his Montenegrin partner
Yanbaev - 6.5
Started very well and held on his own on the night.
Tarasov - 6
Won some balls but his passing was quite poor on the day
Glushakov - 6
Did well to close down the opponents in the first but was quite inexistent in the second as he was employed on the left flank.
Aliev - 6.5
Threatened several times and provided the assist too.
Loskov - 6.5
It's unthinkable that this lad is 36 years old. Ran and ran and at times his passing was eyecatching.
Sychev - 8
Man of the match. Stole the show with a last minute winner, a goal which for sure was a beautiful reward for his effort tonight and his birthday he celebrated at the middle of last week.

Asatiani - 5.5
Quite shaky but overall did well.
Wagner - 5.5
Failed to do anything better than the man he replaced, that is Glushakov
Gatagov - N/A
Introduced to waste time.