Big Challenges Awaits Cherchesov

After weeks of speculation and waiting, Vitaly Mutko finally presented Russia’s next national team coach earlier this week. The choice fell on 52-year-old Stanislav Cherchesov, who led Legia Warsaw to the Polish double last season, and he has signed a two-year contract with the Russian Football Union. The Ossetian-born coach won the job ahead of Kurban Berdyev, Sergey Semak and Aleksandr Borodyuk, who all had meetings with Mutko as well, and the goals set for Cherchesov and Sbornaya are enormous despite the failure in France.

READ MORE: Stanislav Cherchesov – The Dresden Days and the Uncertain Future

“The main task articulated by RFU [Russian Football Union] President Vitaly Mutko is to reach the semifinal stage of the 2018 World Cup,” Igor Lebedev, member of the RFU Executive Board and a vice speaker at the Russian State Duma, told TASS Thursday. “But Cherchesov expressed his determination to go to the final himself.”

In order to do so, Mutko has given Cherchesov a lot of influence on the country’s long-term football development plans.

“The team’s head coach should be the one to supervise the development of nationwide football and its institutions,” Mutko said, “Cherchesov will also chair the Coaching Council and the Technical Committee.” The Technical Committee is an expert council in charge of all issues relating to the Russian national team and was previously led by RFU Vice President and Spartak Moscow legend Nikita Simonyan.

On the road to the expected success in 2018, Cherchesov does however have some very important issues that needs to be solved.

The most important task for Cherchesov is to win back the love of the Russian people, and rekindle the support for the national team and its players. Support for the Russian national team is at an all-time low. Since the disappointing Euro 2016 campaign, and Aleksandr Kokorin and Pavel Mamaev’s infamous champagne party in Monte Carlo, more than 950,000 people have signed an online petition calling on RFU President and Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and President Vladimir Putin to reform Russian football and disband the national team in its current form.

READ MORE: The Foreigner Limit and Exorbitant Parties in Monte Carlo

Years of poor results, and worse than that boring and uninspiring football, combined with the high salaries Russian players receive due to the infamous foreigner limit has removed the support from the otherwise football loving public, and Cherchesov will have to work hard to change the perception of his players.

Secondly, Cherchesov needs to rejuvenate the squad that had the second highest average age at the Euros this summer with nine players on the wrong side of 30. Former captain Roman Shirokov has already retired, and central defenders Vasiliy (34) and Aleksey Berezutskiy (34) as well as Sergei Ignashevich (37) are likely to follow in his footsteps soon, meaning Cherchesov will have to do without the spine that has been a part of Sbornaya for more than a decade. Mutko has already addressed the issue of the aging, and seemingly unmotivated squad, stating that: “I think in September we will see a renovated team. Let a new guy have a class lower but he must be having enormous desire playing for his country and we have a lot of such guys.”

However, despite the recent poor results and the old squad, we shouldn’t expect Cherchesov to make any drastic changes to the team. “Drastic measures is a revolution, and history dictates that revolutions don’t bring positive results,” he said, “I must speak with everyone who can help me in this matter and then we can take the necessary steps.”

Looking at Cherchesov’s CV, little suggests that he could make a revolution even if he wanted to. He entered coaching in 2004, and since then he has coached eight different clubs, all with mixed success. Over his career, the former Russian international and Spartak Moscow goalkeeper has proven himself to be at his best at smaller clubs. He delivered good results at both Terek Grozny and Amkar Perm with a defensive and patient approach, but ultimately fell short at both Spartak Moscow and Dinamo Moscow where the expectations and demands were higher.

Cherchesov’s first task as head of the Russian national team is an away friendly against Turkey on August 31, which is the perfect time for Rinat Dasayev’s former understudy to start his quest of bringing football fans back to the stadiums with entertaining football from players who are ready to die on the pitch.


Follow Toke on Twitter: @TokeTheilade

Toke Møller Theilade

Author: Toke Møller Theilade

Brøndby supporter, groundhopper and more importantly Editor-in-Chief at As a hopeless romantic, I still believe Fyodor Smolov and Viktoria Lopyreva has a future together.

Leave a Reply