Season Preview: Amkar Perm

Amkar's Zvezda Stadium in Perm. Photo: Дима Шевченко

Amkar’s Zvezda Stadium in Perm. Photo: Дима Шевченко

When talking about Amkar, the first word that comes into mind is stability. Since their promotion to the RFPL in 2003, they’ve never been relegated and also managed to play European football a couple of times. The most surprising fact is that the Perm-based club has one of the lowest budgets in the league and in every transfer window they’re forced to sell key players in order to survive. Last season, wasn’t an exception. For most part of the season, it seemed that they could fight for an European spot, but at the end the lack of depth influenced results, which led to a mid-table finish.

Luckily for them, this summer has seen so far only the departure of Branko Jovicic. The arrivals of Artur Nigmatullin from Tosno and Mikhail Gashchenkov from Khimki are very promising, while Aleksandr Ryazantsev and Mikhail Sivakov respectively from Zenit and Orenburg are safe moves.

Head coach

Gadzhi Gadzhiev is the man behind the great success of Amkar. Since taking over the team in 2015, he has not only developed a tactical system which perfectly suits to the current squad (3-5-2). 71-year-old Gadzhiev has been coaching since 1972, and is therefore the most experienced coaches in the league.

His ability to help young players grow is fundamental in the current panorama of Russian football, which clearly lacks talent. With the current management, he’s built a successful network of scouts that looks for promising players in the whole Russia.

Greatest strength

When in form, Amkar’s defensive line is one of the best in Russia. That’s not for the quality of the players, but rather for the enormous effort made by Gadzhiev to concede as few goals as possible.

Greatest weakness

The lack of goals scored is a big issue for Amkar, and the pressure is on strikers Darko Bodul, Stanislav Prokofjev and Aleksandr Salugin to better last season’s tally. None of them are great goal scorers though, but they work hard for their teammates. If Amkar aims to fight for something bigger, they definitely have to find someone who is able to score at least ten goals in a season.

Key player

Current captain and leader Petar Zanev should be considered the most indispensable player in the team. Last season, he played in three different positions (LB, CB and also as midfielder) and was also the most used player, involved in 29 games out of 30. Zanev recently extended his contract, which allowed the fans to breathe a sigh of relief as he could easily have moved to a bigger club.

Young starlet

The one to watch this season is Aleksey Gasilin. After successful spells at Zenit and Schalke 04’s reserves teams, he now looks to break through at senior level. He joined Amkar at the beginning of the year, and after six months adapting to the league with the help of Gadzhiev, he has everything he needs to break through.

Prediction

As usual, I think Amkar will end with a mid-table place, without going beyond expectations. They’ll defeat a couple of top teams at their home soil and then will sell someone to the best bidder. The coolest thing should be following the development of their young players. Some of them could represent Russia in the coming years.

Author: Stefano Conforti

Half Russian, half Italian. Football writer and Lokomotiv Moscow supporter. Founder of the FCLMblog, the only blog about Lokomotiv outside Russia, and FCLMmagazine, which is the first magazine in English for an Eastern Europe football club. I’m interested in everything related to Russia and the post-Soviet world.

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