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Gullit's new challenge in Grozny

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Phil Minshull | 07:30 UK time, Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Ruud Gullit has been in a few difficult situations during his coaching career but the Dutch legend has really taken on a challenge by accepting the job at the helm of the Russian Premier League side Terek Grozny.

Public disagreements with the then Chelsea chairman Ken Bates and Newcastle hero Alan Shearer during his stints at those clubs seem to pale by comparison to trying to make a club competitive that finished 12th out of 16 teams in the Russian top flight last season, just three points above the relegation zone.

There is also the political situation in Chechnya to take into account.

Even though the mood in Grozny, the capital city, has been a lot calmer in the last two years since the Russian government in Moscow managed to reassert its control over the region, the social, economic and psychological scars after two wars in the last 20 years still remain.

There is widespread poverty, with approximately half the adult population having no regular work, and foreign correspondents almost uniformly comment on an air of repression and climate of fear that seems to exists in Grozny.

Ruud Gullit

Gullit has signed an 18-month contract with Russian club Terek Grozny - photo: AP.

Nevertheless, Gullit was undaunted when he took over in January.

"My aim is to get the club into the top five of the Premier League and so into Europe. I want some of my players to make the grade in the Russian international team," said the Dutchman.

That may prove a tall order. The only time Terek have ventured into continental competition was a brief campaign in the Uefa Cup after winning the Russian Cup in 2004 when they were still a Second Division team.

The Russian Premier League is a tough division, but teams have yet to truly make their mark on the continental stage despite CSKA Moscow winning the Uefa Cup in 2005.

Zenit St Petersburg may have only lost two games last season to win their second title in four seasons but they and Spartak Moscow, who lead the way after winning the Russian championship nine times since the break up of the Soviet Union, and the latter's local rivals CSKA and Lokomotiv, as well as Rubin Kazan, are all closely matched.

Gullit's men will have to break into that group if they are to meet the Dutchman's target.

Nobody is saying officially how much Gullit is being paid to try and establish Terek among Russia';s leading sides, but press reports have put his salary at just over £5m a year, with big bonuses if they qualify for the Champions League.

However, it still remains small change for 34-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov, who inherited the roles of regional and club president after his father Akhmad was assassinated at the Terek stadium by a bomb blast during a military parade in May 2004.

The authorities in Moscow are giving him an annual subsidy of nearly £2bn to renovate the city and he has ploughed a reasonable chunk of it into the club, building a new 30,000 capacity stadium for the club and opening up a new youth academy, named rather egotistically, Ramzan.

"Football is a way of fighting extremism," Kadyrov is fond of saying.

The new season started in Russia last weekend and it did not start the way Gullit, or Kadyrov, would have liked, with Terek suffering a 1-0 defeat at home to Zenit on Sunday.

The visitors, led by Italian coach Luciano Spalletti, who acquired cult status and provided plenty of front page photos in Russia when he stripped to the waist in freezing temperatures to celebrate his team clinching their title in November, won with a goal by Serbian striker Danko Lazovic.

Ramzan Kadyrov and Ruud Gullit

Terek president Ramzan Kadyrov (left) apponted Gullit - photo: AFP.

"Ruud Gullit flunked his first exam in the Russian championship," read the headline in Sovetsky Sport.

However, the 48-eight-year Dutchman, who has an 18-month contract with his new club, was more upbeat after Sunday's game.

"I think you could see we still didn't play a real match in comparison with Zenit and we got into the game more slowly, but I'm very proud of my team, especially the way they picked up in the second half," said Gullit, who is well remembered in Russia for captaining the Netherlands to victory over the Soviet Union in the final of the Euro 88, and also scoring the first goal in that 2-0 win.

Regardless of how the rest of the season progresses for Gullit, Zenit will keep their crown as Russian champions until the middle of next year.

The Russian football federation has decided to break away from their traditional March-November schedule to try to synchronise with the rest of Europe, as well as assist their teams to progress further in the Champions League with a more helpful format, and the current season has been extended to May 2012.

If plenty of attention has been focused on Gullit's arrival at Terek, the other eye-catching news story since the end of last season in Russia has been the £27.6m Anzhi Makhachkala has spent on new players in the last two months.

Bought by Russian billionaire Suleyman Kerimov on 18 January - the same day that Gullit joined Terek - Anzhi Makhachkala's spending constitutes almost the same as the total winter spend of the Russian Premier League's other 15 clubs.

Anzhi's new boys include the exciting Dutch-born Moroccan international midfielder Mbark Boussoufa, who signed for them from Anderlecht only last week after turning down Gullit's offer to move to Terek.

Anzhi's most high-profile signing cost nothing, with 37-year-old former Brazilian international left back Roberto Carlos, who was a mainstay of Real Madrid's three most recent Champions League victories, arriving after being released from his contract by his former club Corinthians.

Comments on this blog in the space below. Other questions on European football to: I do not need your full address but please put the town/city and country where you come from.

Q) I wondered what your view was on the attitude towards the Europa League across Europe. The tournament appears to be treated with considerable disdain in England with sides fielding weakened teams and generally viewing it as an inconvenience, rather than an opportunity to win a European trophy. Is this attitude widespread across the other major leagues in Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Italy etc?
Nick Young, Liverpool, England

A) I can only give a personal impression but I get the feeling that you are right and that in Spain and Italy few clubs take the Europa League particularly seriously unless, by accident rather than design, they reach the knockout stages. This was certainly evident by the performances of Atletico Madrid and Getafe as well as Juventus, Palermo and Sampdoria in the group stages. With the greatest respect to the teams that finished ahead of them, you would not have expected all of them to go out if they had been, to use an English turn-of-phrase 'up for it'.

By contrast, having three Dutch clubs, three Portuguese clubs and three Russian clubs in the last 16 tends to suggest that the Europa League means more to clubs, and certainly at an earlier stage in the competition, in those countries than in Spain and Italy.


  • Comment number 1.

    The Europa league is always going to be taken as a second class competition because that is what it is.

    For the majority of the clubs who qualify for it their main aim for the season is to qualify instead for the Champions League the next year. An aim which is obvioulsy going to be a higher priority than any cup.

    What you will find is that teams field strong sides early in the competition, this is to ensure they reach the group phase and thus are guarenteed dcent income, it also helps that these games are early in the year before most clubs have to start worrying about squad rotation too much.

    Should they reach the quarter finals then perhaps it becomes something worth chasing.

    And Phil, trying to claim that it means more to the Dutch, Russian and Portuguese is frankly an idiotic statement. You do realise that 5 of those 8 teams (Ajax, Twente, Braga, Benfica & Spartak) "qualified" for the Europa league via failing in the Champions League yes? So any attempt to compre them with the Europa group round failings of other teams is pure rubbish. Who's to say that Ajax would have taken it any more seriously than Sampdoria or Athletico had they been in it from the start?

    It will never be an important competition until it offers qualification for the Champions League as a prize, I would say for both finalists at least, possibly semi-finalists as well or perhaps a 3rd/4th playoff to decide. Until then any team with serious ambition will continue not caring.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 3.

    Seems like we are unable to comment on the ethics of working for Kadyrov!

  • Comment number 4.

    No mention of the Brazil WC 2002 Winners friendly last week? I filed a brief match report, which can be seen here:

  • Comment number 5.

    Next season won't Birmingham, Stoke/Bolton and Liverpool be in the Europa Cup? European teams already think we play long ball, so next season will just be embarrassing with these teams representing England.

    Also Phil, CKSA werent the only Russian team to win the UEFA cup - Zenit won it the year Rangers fans had a jolly to Manchester

  • Comment number 6.

    I only have three possible explanations for Gullit's move:

    1) He lost his mind

    2) He's clueless about international politics and the meaning of working for one of the most ruthless and cruel leaders in the world, even if it's just for football

    3) He knows all about it and his is a conscious, well-thought choice

    None of these cases paints a good picture of him

  • Comment number 7.

    In response to yorkieyra's comments I am a Stoke City season ticket holder and can honestly say some of the football we have played this season has been fantastic. Yes ok we might play what you choose to call 'long ball' football against the big teams but who doesn't? We play consistently good football and deserve to have the chance to play in Europe. I can't wait to welcome Europe's elite to the Britannia so they can experience what English football is all about.

  • Comment number 8.

    Firstly, Bolton will beat you so St Johns Ambulance won’t have to worry about spending Thursday evenings taking away the finest of the continents B players away to hospital due to a ‘fair challenge’!

    As for your bizarre ‘welcome Europe's elite so they can experience what English football is all about’, I think Europe’s elite know all about this style after the numerous visits to Anfield over the last decade.

  • Comment number 9.

    Just because of one challenge by Shawcross people associate Stoke with bad tacking. Firstly he didn't do anything wrong, it was a fair challenge and anyway he apologised afterwards. Secondly we play hard but fair what's wrong with that? We're not worried about Bolton, we beat them back in Jan and I’m confident we will in the cup.

    What I meant by experience English football is I can't wait to welcome fans from around Europe to a ground where the atmosphere is unrivalled in this country and many would say Europe too. Anyone who has been to Anfield in the last 5 years knows there is no atmosphere there.

  • Comment number 10.

    If you recall, Gullit refused to play for Holland in the 1994 World Cup when his ultimatum for the coach to be replaced was rejected. That one incident sums up this ego maniac who went with Beckham and the Galaxy circus for a short time last year. As a coach himself he has achieved little and Chechnya is probably a great opportunity for Gullit to fulfill his coaching career.

  • Comment number 11.

    I wonder how Gullit's brand of "sexy football" will go down over there.

  • Comment number 12.

    anonimolombardo... No, Ruud Gullit has not lost his mind, he's just trying to regain a reputation in club football. Last year it was rumoured that the socceroos wanted Gullit. That was a move he would have really liked. However, his club career as manager needs to be rebuilt and this might be the only place where he can achieve that goal. I just wish him and his family well, and that he can bring some cheer to a region desperately in need of it. As for cruel leaders, he's worked under Ken Bates. Sorry to joke, but I hope it all works out for the guy.

  • Comment number 13.

    Lets see if this one gets through!
    Will it work out as well as Scolari in Uzbekistan?
    Two places with similar human rights records!

  • Comment number 14.

    # 12 .... Behave.. I think the small mention of his reported wages gives you all the motives behind Mr Gullit's strange move..

    The Russian league has good teams and a lot of good players but is fast becoming a cash cow for sub standard foreigners who retain a certain few nationalities.. going over there and taking the cold weather for a few years in order to set themselves up for life.. sureley they should be trying to tap into the Eastern European region for talent etc..

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    14 Mikey,

    The scenario you just described reminds me of a time in the premiership when it was / is still seen as a cash cow. Not forgetting the MLS hoovering up ageing talent... Least we not bring up Rivaldo, His former Brazil manager Big Phil Pay Check Scolari and Bunyodkor. In a job market where people move countries to take up employment on better wages or paying less tax... I dont blame him or his financial motives. I guess the rebate he will get on his five million from Russian authorities will make him and his agent smile... If there is any football talent in East Russia, I will be amazed, let us not forget Russians think in terms of Asians and not Europeans. Football, as demonstrated in the Asian champions league is of a very mediocre standard. Hence why an Iranian pro league team can get so far this season.

    Should Gullit really be vilified for earning a wage in a former war torn country? Are ex servicemen not doing exactly that around the world on monstrous contracts? It doesn't bother the current crop of Chelsea players turning out under another one of Russia's Super wealthy elite!!!! Where did Abramovich earn his spurs and cash? or AC Milan's starting line up under the watchful eyes of a man in court on suspicion of sleeping with an underage girl. Should I stop here? :-) And for the record Ken bates is a......

  • Comment number 17.

    As I recall Zenit St. Petersburg also won the Uefa Cup in 2008, not just CSKA in 2005. I remember it well as I was living in Manchester at the time and experienced first hand the rioting that broke out among the Rangers fans after their team lost and there were issues with the big screen set up in the city centre.

  • Comment number 18.


    I’m sorry but Stoke have some of the most unwelcoming fans I’ve ever witnessed. If a club is to end up playing against Stoke, Birmingham and Liverpool, their fans would deserve a medal for bravery. As I say I find that these clubs and their style of football is a total embarrassment and will nothing for the image of English football. This will only provide a stronger argument for the winding up of the Europa League. FACT

    @17 You are correct - I made the same point earlier on, but Phil has yet to thank me for pointing this out.

  • Comment number 19.

    In response to yorkieyra's comments I am a Stoke City season ticket holder and can honestly say some of the football we have played this season has been fantastic
    I have no idea what you define as it as but I find it hard to believe that you have played 'fantastic' football this season. How many of your last, say 50 goals have come from open play? Its astonishing sometimes when I see how your goals are scored because every time the description includes the word free kick, corner or Rory Delap. Most people see fantastic football as building up neat passing moves rather than set pieces.

  • Comment number 20.

    yorkieyra (18) can I ask if you have ever been to the Britannia? I must say I take offence to you labelling Stoke fans as 'some of the most unwelcoming fans' you have ever witnessed as we have often been praised in the past for our hospitality.
    Frankly I find it astounding how you can say the Europa league should be brought to a close because teams like Stoke, Birmingham and Liverpool are entered into it. As stated previously we all deserve the opportunity to prove ourselves against the big teams in Europe and I don't understand why you have a problem with that. How this is a 'FACT' I will never know.

  • Comment number 21.

    Why is it when a small club does well with a different brand of football, they get everyone desperate to criticise them? Birmingham and Stoke may not play the most attractive football, and sometimes use long ball and set plays to score, but that is just good management and tactics. The managers are playing to their strengths, and in the case of Birmingham against Arsenal in the Carling cup, the oppositions weaknesses. If it works, and it has done for them, why should they feel the need to justify it?

    As much as I would love everyone to play like Arsenal, it isn't going to happen. Not every club can afford theplayers to play that style, and if they did it with the players they currently have, they would get hammered. Trying to play passing football against a team who are better on the ball and better passers than you will not get you very far. Arsenal themselves should know this after facing Barcelona, who were comfortably the better team over the two legs. A smaller team facing Arsenal playing football will struggle just the same way, as Blackpool did earlier this season.

    Let these teams play how they see best to get the job done. Just cause its not the best to watch, it doesn't allow fans of other clubs who play better football the right to criticise.

  • Comment number 22.

    Gullit was a great player, but as a manager has achieved very little despite what appears to be a massively over-inflated opinion of himself and his talents. Everywhere he has gone he has caused friction and bad vibes.

    This record of underachievement is despite several opportunities over the years in various leagues around Europe (England, Holland, Turkey). His move to Russia, IMO, is money-motivated and nothing else.

    If he was really serious about rebuilding his reputation, he would have taken a job at a Championship or lower-level Premiership club (or something similar in Spain or Italy, where he is still highly regarded), rather than going on this ego-trip in Russia which will lead him and them nowhere fast.

    The Russians are demanding, especially when taking into account the money invested. Gullit is just not good enough. FACT.

  • Comment number 23.

    potters1 – Clubs like Stoke, Birmingham and Liverpool are an embarrassment to English football because of the way they play, and I’m afraid its proof that Franz Beckenbauer’s analysis of the English team/game was correct. I appreciate that Stoke and Birmingham have yet to play in Europe, but please don’t tell me that its going to be any different from a long throw in from Rory Delap to Robert Huth who will foul the keeper and then big Ricardo Fuller to smash it in from 3 yard via the bar. I for one won’t be watching the Europa League next season if these teams qualify. At least when the smaller clubs like Norwich, Ipswich, Fulham and Spurs played in the Europa League they tried to play football. FACT

  • Comment number 24.

    #18 Yorkieyra

    Thanks for agreeing with my point, but I do take exception to your statement that the Europa League should be wound down in order to prevent the so-called 'lesser' teams of the PL from taking part. Surely the very point of the Europa League is to develop access to European competition for the clubs which are not the perennial 'giants' of European football. Such access is, after all, based on merit anyway. The open nature of the PL, especially this season, means that a variety of teams can make it into the Europa League (Bolton, Fulham and Everton have all recently had a shot), ensuring that not just the top 4 or 5 clubs annually compete in European football. What better advertisement for English football is there than this? Whereas you appear to use this reasoning as a premise for getting rid of the Europa League - baffling. And your point that Stoke fans are unwelcoming and should be excluded on that basis alone - tosh. Firstly, it's just not true (and I am not a Stoke supporter). Secondly, I can think of several places in Europe that I would not care to visit for an away game, with a far higher percentage of disreputable fans. Do you propose that these teams be excluded too? If we are talking about image and perception then frankly I would rather spend an evening in a pretty decent and safe ground in Staffordshire than in a cold, dodgy area of Chechnya. But I still wouldn't like to see Grozny barred for this reason alone.

  • Comment number 25.

    21, thank you for your logical comments. I agree with you wholeheartedly, just because the likes of Stoke, Birmingham, Liverpool etc play a different style of football it doesn't make it any less attractive.

    19 can you honestly say you are happy to play a nice passing game all season but with no end product? Lets face it it's starting to look like another trophyless season for you. Are you satisfied with that?

  • Comment number 26.


    Sorry I didn't mean to sound like I was having a go but i just don't agree that you have played fantastic football this season.

    To answer your question no I would not be happy to see us finish trophy less again, but I don't think that playing the football we have done has caused that. Our problems are due to injuries to key players and mental brittleness in a lot of our squad, which has been the case for a while now.

    I don't have the same argument that yorkieyra has as I don't think your style of football means you shouldn't qualify for Europe. However that doesn't mean that I have to like it though.

  • Comment number 27.

    @24 – The problem with the Europa League is the Champions League and their ridiculous top 4 / 3 club quota from each top league going through, meaning that the EL is impacted – but that’s a different story.

    As for teams who qualify by playing insipid football, like Liverpool, and then taking that into Europe the following season - I fail to see how that is a good advertisement for the English game. As I say other teams like Fulham, who qualified a few seasons ago, while maybe grinding out the odd result in some places, played entertaining football the right way (4-1 v Juve?). All I’m saying is that some of the teams who are in a position to qualify for the Europa League next season will play a style that is an embarrassment to the English game.

    I can think of a few places in Europe worse than Stoke, but it has to be in the top 5, along with Grozny, Warsaw and Chernobyl.

    @21 – If that’s how they play that’s how they play, but their managers claim they play this way cause it’s the only way to get anything out of the top clubs. But then they play exactly the same way against anyone else! Never even try and play decent football.

  • Comment number 28.

    I doubt Chernobyl has a team, but perhaps it should; I imagine that having three legs can only be an advantage in professional football.

  • Comment number 29.


    sorry I wasnt making a point about club owners and where there money comes from.. This should be up to the country's FA who control them and not the common fan.. my point was to refute your rather poetic vision of Gullit taking the job in order to bring joy to an area which has experienced horrors in its recent history.

    I also meant Eastern European countries like Poland, Czech, Serbia etc.. I would imagine these players would handle the transition a little better and possibly be easier for scouting etc..

  • Comment number 30.

    26. apology accepted. I love watching Arsenal play but can you really put a lack of success over the last few years down to injuries and a lack of mental brightness? Personally I think it's about time you pointed the finger at Wenger.

    yorkieyra I am starting to lose patience with you as you seem to be so blinkered you can't understand why clubs play in a different way to Barcelona and a lesser extent Arsenal.

    Tony Pulis has worked wonders for us and along with clubs of a similar standing we all deserve the chance to play in Europe and thus improve over time. Get rid of the Europa League and clubs are going to fall behind even more.

    What is the difference between the way Stoke play and Chelsea? Just because they have bigger named players nobody seems to mention them.

  • Comment number 31.


    No doubt Wenger is at least partially responsible for our mental brittleness but I feel that he deserves more time to try and fix it because of what he has done in the past. However there will be a point where he cannot continue as coach if this carries on for a few more years.


    I wouldn't be able to appreciate attractive football as much if everyone was forced to play it as it is supposed to be daring. If you impose sanctions because of being negative it just seems like you are depriving people from being able to make that choice.

  • Comment number 32.

    @28 - I just came close to falling out of my chair giggling - why are poor taste jokes generally the best?

    And as to the debate on style of play, yes, I get annoyed when I see my beloved Arsenal outmuscled. I become incandescent when I see a player injured unnecessarily. I do not, however, get irate at seeing a side play to it's strengths. Stoke have an athletic side. If they tried to play tici-taci (is that it - thinking of the delicious sweets...) they wouldn't do very well - a point made earlier. Yes, I'm not a fan of The Shawcross Tackle, but it's unfair to judge a person or a club on the basis of one incident. They play to their physical prowess, I guess. I think it's the same case as, for instance, a strong Russian side entering the draw - dont complain about being outmuscled, rather bemoan a lack of muscle in your own side.

    And given the context of the article, I find it hard to believe (in terms of supporters or setting) that someone decided to bring up Stoke when the article is centred on Chechnya - LOL.

    Sorry if this is kind of a ramble, currently in the throes of flu, and will endeavour to try harder

  • Comment number 33.

    A £10 he won't last the contract.

  • Comment number 34.

    29 Mikey... No need to apologise...

    Perhaps poetic, but, It could have an impact. Gullit and Hughes turned up at Chelsea and it was a catalyst in the clubs upturn in fortunes. OK that was as a player, but Gullit does have box office draw as demonstrated in his brief stint in charge of LA Galaxy. (They hired him) The move is a strange one but no different to the South Americans flooding into eastern Europe.

    Scouting in the countries you suggest could could become a problem due to the influx of foreign talent to those leagues. As previously seen in the Premiership to the detriment of the English national team in the long run.

    Good luck on the move, I guess a couple of security scares and he'll be off...

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    Didn't know the BBC were that censorious. I thought it was bad out here in Dubai.

    Perhaps this feature should have mentioned more about what sort of person Ramzan Kadyrov is. Google him.

  • Comment number 37.

    Phil- good blog, when I saw he had signed their I did think it was a strange move however only Gullit knows why he choose this move.

    Being a Fulham fan for Europa league is not sub standard, true some teams in the group stage may put out a weaker side, but we played some very good teams on route to the final. The Juventus game where we were dead and buried yet somehow made it away with a win is something that will live with me forever so for @ Yorkieyera's wish to wind it down would highly disappoint me as I'm sure it will to others.

    Finally, @potters1 while I appreciate teams must play to their strengths I dont personally enjoy watching your football but that is nor here or their Hey if my Fulham side would lump it up to Zamora every week and we would win I'd be a happy bunny! Buy what I do take issue with us that you say your team are unknown to bad tackling?? I ask you to take your mind back to our game at the brittania at the begining of the season, 89th minute Dembele running down the line Andy Wilkinson was lucky not to end his season, Shawcross on Francis Jeffers a few seasons ago?

    So while I appreciate it may not always be in bad faith please do not claim you do not have bad tacklers as evidence points to the contary.

    ps I've been to the Brittania and it was lovely!

  • Comment number 38.

    @yorkieyra, potters1, whoever else: the idea of getting rid of the Europa League is foolish in the extreme. As someone mentioned, it's a huge financial incentive for the lesser clubs. I remember not so long ago when Middlesbrough qualified and, knowing full well that they were never going to make the grade for the Champion's League, gave it everything they had and got to the final. It was a great story and a real high point for the club and its fans.

    That said, I agree that the thought of the European Super Cup is hardly a rewarding prospect, except for managers like Rafa Benitez who will forever point to it as proof of his success when in fact all he did was win one game with a team he inherited from a genuinely good manager. A couple of Champion's League spots for the finalists would make it a much more worthwhile target.

    Stylish football is all very well, but not everyone can do it. Besides, if you were to strategically remove a few players from Man Utd or Chelsea they'd almost certainly end up playing bullish, strong-arm tactics to muscle their way through instead of finessing their way almost to the goal and then getting tackled like Arsenal usually do whenever Van Persie's not scoring.

  • Comment number 39.

    The ethics of working for Kadyrov? The less said the better. However, the ethics of most of the super-rich Arab and Russian owners are murky to say the least...

  • Comment number 40.

    The passing Russian game seems to be suitable for Gullit's philosophy of football perhaps. But Grozny? It's dangerous up there. All I can read between the lines is that Gullit wants to go back to football management.

  • Comment number 41.

    Why people point the finger at Wenger i don't understand, he's won plenty of silverware in the past using the same proven and successful philosophy, the difference is the players he has aren't as good as the invincibles and that because he's working on a tighter budget (thanks to an amazing new stadium many clubs should be envious of) and the rise of Tottenham, Man City, Chelsea etc has made it harder to get the best players as they spend frankly stupid money (Torres £50m, Wright Phillips £21m?) on acquiring the best players.

    As a Arsenal fan i have no issue in Stoke playing the way they do, playing to their strengths and using the means available to overwhelm the penalty box, if clubs can't plan and deal with it then they have failed tactically. I notice Chelsea have no issues dealing with this.

    However i stopped watching the FA Cup game against West Ham last weekend because it was duller than the Antiques Roadshow and unless they mix it up (like Arsenal need to) then unfortunately football purists will not watch your team, fans will tire of the bully boy label and neutrals will not care for your club and hope that your not in the PL let alone Europe.

    These are hard truths.

  • Comment number 42.

    Yet another blog that Arsenal fans seem obliged to take over bleating on about other sides football styles and waxing lyrical about their own. This was meant to be a blog about Ruud Gullit taking a managers job in Russia. Just for once give it a rest.

  • Comment number 43.

    37. I’ll assume you were being sincere about your experience at the Britannia!
    I admit a number of our players have made some rather harsh challenges in the past but I feel Stoke have been unfairly labelled as a team of thugs by many when in fact the way our players tackle is no different from others in the league. Look at Garrard and Carragher for Liverpool for example, they should have been put in jail for some of their challenges but because they play for a moderately sized club people take no notice of it. Much easier to criticise the smaller teams it seems.

    I appreciate your comments on your experience of the Europa League last season and I am very hopeful we can achieve something similar to yourselves next season.

    nicknack1 I understand your defence of Wenger as he is clearly a quality manager and has won plenty of trophies in the past but I can't help but think it's time for a change at Arsenal. The unbeaten season was a long time ago and things have changed like you say, you now have to try and keep up with the likes of Spurs, Man City etc.... I just can't see you doing that with the Wenger philosophy of trying to pass through teams who are frankly rapidly catching up with Arsenal. The players you have now (excluding Nasri, Wilshire and Fabregas) aren't capable of playing the way previous teams have so why not change the style a little? There is only so long you can go without winning a trophy before your best players start to rethink their futures at the club and then you are back to square one and trying to build another team.
    I can't help think if you had someone like Pulis or Big Sam in charge (managers with the ability to change their style of play when it suits) you could've beaten Barcelona, sure it might not have been pretty but wouldn't you rather still be in the competition?

  • Comment number 44.

    'The Russian Premier League is a tough division, but teams have yet to truly make their mark on the continental stage despite CSKA Moscow winning the Uefa Cup in 2005.'

    Zenit St.Petersburg won the Uefa Cup in 2008, defeating Villareal, Marseille, Bayer, Glasgow Rangers, Bayern.

  • Comment number 45.

    @ 42,

    not winning a trophy for a few years has made them insane and they can't even see it :)

  • Comment number 46.

    Why all the comments on here about Arsenal?

    Is there a roving gang of e-Gooners weeping from blog to blog and comforting themselves with their 'style' blankets?!


  • Comment number 47.

    Gullit is clearly in it for the money.

    As for the Europa League - you might have answered that question by having a look at stadium attendance figures. PSV, for instance, have sold out their stadium against small clubs in the Dutch Eredivisie, but have failed to attract considerable crowds for the Europa League games against Lille and Rangers. The EL more popular in countries such as Holland? I think not.

    That silly anonymous tune at the start of every game doesn't help matters either.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    Why hasn't this article mentioned the alleged human rights abuses of Ramzan Kadyrov?

  • Comment number 51.

    No idea why my posts keep being removed. Your moderating is a bit over-zealous BBC, and not fair in this case.

  • Comment number 52.

    Gullit has his work cut out for him. Zenit Sankt-Peterburg, Rubin Kazan, Spartak, CSKA and Lokomotiv Moscow will more than likely finish in the top five, not necessarily in that order; as for Terek Grozny, top-half of the table finish would be a success. Will that be enough to open the door for Gullit at a bigger club? I doubt it.

  • Comment number 53.

    This is the man Gullits working for - this info is from the link provided in the above article.

    he was groomed for the position by Vladimir Putin, who conferred Russia's highest state honour - the Hero of Russia medal - upon him.

    This concerns human rights groups, who accuse Mr Kadyrov of stamping his authority on the republic by using a feared private militia, known as the Kadyrovtsy (the Kadyrovites).

    Ramzan Kadyrov's image is widely promoted in Chechnya
    Russian and international rights groups say they commit serious crimes, including extortion, and human rights abuses, including kidnapping, torture and summary execution.

  • Comment number 54.

    9. At 12:41pm on 16 Mar 2011, potters1 wrote:

    What I meant by experience English football is I can't wait to welcome fans from around Europe to a ground where the atmosphere is unrivalled in this country and many would say Europe too.


    I'm guessing that those ''many'' who would say that the atmosphere at Stoke is ''unrivalled in Europe'' reside within a ST postcode !

    Seriously, I'm quite fond of Stoke's brand of football ( especially the precious people's noses that it puts out of joint :D ), and I would be glad for a genuine English team like yours to play in Europe, but these claims about the atmosphere are just too much !

    While the Britannia plays host to a loud and passionate set of fans, I wouldn't say that it was anywhere near the best atmosphere in England, let alone Europe !

    It is very cold, though... :;

  • Comment number 55.

    I love the way that this blog-a comment on the flagging managerial career of a footballing legend-has turned into a general Stoke vs Arsenal sideshow.

    Just goes to show how self-obsessed all of you Gooners really are.

    Good luck to Stoke if they ever get into Europe. Their football isnt pretty and their fans arent always friendly, but guys this is football! If you want to win things, or in Stoke's case survive in the Premiership then you have to be ruthless. If that means creating a maelstrom atmosphere at your home ground then so be it, its probably a lot more effective than chomping on your prawn sandwiches and dusting off your middle class values at the Emirates.

    To provide an apt parallel from the Cricket world: Australia consistently thrashed us for 18 years. This wasnt only about great cricket, it was about a winning mentality. They would sledge English batsmen to distract their attention. Winning is about doing whatever it takes to get that result, whatever it takes that is WITHIN the rules. We arguably only started beating the Aussies when we found our own ruthless streak in 2005.

    Putting it this way for a club like Stoke survival in the Premiership is wining things. Arsenal have done 7 years without a trophy, a record not far behind Englands recent history in the Ashes.....

    Good luck to Mr Gullit, he doesnt deserve the criticism for his wage as managers rarely get paid as much as players. Anyone who has the balls to manage in a country so obviously still affected by internal stasis should be given a chance. He may even give the people from the region something to be proud of for once.

  • Comment number 56.

    Ruud Gullit - shame such a legend is getting caught up in all this. What a player!

  • Comment number 57.

    Bit harsh saying that "Russian teams have yet to truly make their mark on the continental stage despite CSKA Moscow winning the Uefa Cup in 2005." You forgot to mention that Zenit St Petersburg also won the Uefa Cup in 2008. Add to this that Ukranian outfit Shaktar Donetsk won the Europa League in 2009, then things are certainly looking good for Eastern European football as a whole. This is backed up with the money that is pouring into the Russian and Ukrainian games which in turn, is making them a lot more competitive. Recent Ukranian results over giants Roma and Man City illustrate this swing in dominance and is surely only a matter of time before Russian and Ukranian sides can compete on a regular basis in the latter stages of the Champions League.

  • Comment number 58.


    But he's hardly the first to get caught up in the money and practices of East European oligarchs. Could look closer to home: Chelski, Heart of Midlothian.

  • Comment number 59.


    Why is stoke's style so hated, they do what they have to win? English teams are not always pretty in the Champions league chelsea play long ball to Drogba? And as for going to Stoke not been good there is plenty of places in Europe worse? Roma for instance. Good luck to Stoke and an English manager! I am sure Arsenal wouldnt mind been able to score a scrappy goal here and there right now! And doesnt 5th place get europa league spot I dont think this will be Liverpool

  • Comment number 60.

    Never been to the Brittannia,i've only heard the atmosphere on radio and tv, it sounds very good. A lot better than at bigger clubs.
    I can't see Liverpool playing in Europe next year as that would mean (correct me if i'm wrong) us finishing 5th , a very tall order indeed with City and Spurs fighting for 4th.
    I agree with soem of the points re the style of football in this country, it isn't as good as we think it is nor is the premier league either. Stoke shall i think bolster their squad and Pulis has tried to be more expansive adding Pennant to the opposite flank to Etherington. yes they use a target man, Shearer & Sutton anyone? teams shall play to their strenghts. Bolton are only now, theis season are starting to find the green stuff with the ball rather than the clouds.
    Good luck to Stoke, Brum and i think City next year in the Europa League.

    As for Gullit,he has gone to a country where football has been on the rise, money plays a huge part in many factors of their game and he has accepted the money to make the owners wishes come true. He also needs luck as the Russian league has been strong in recent years and there are better teams than his above him.


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