Cherchesov: Experiments not an option when you play under your national flag

Russia national football team coach Stanislav Cherchesov took questions from journalists after the national team squad was announced for international matches against Sweden, Turkey and Hungary in October.

— Why have you decided to invite Zhirov?

— We have been monitoring him and he has shown a stable performance lately and has been a team captain. You may remember that Neustadter was invited to the most recent camp but he does not appear for any club at the moment. Sorokin did not see a lot of action lately either. Zhirov appears for a second bundesliga club and we know that league for a solid level. So we will have an opportunity to compare and assess his skills, have him undergo some tests so that we could have more information available. It is also good that Kutepov made some appearances lately and reached a certain level by now. Half of the players in his position are substituted compared to the previous camp.

— What are Zhirov’s advantages? What kind of a player is he?

— He is a fine left-footer. We need to take a closer look at certain details though. A coach may have his own requirements and we need to get to know him and see his training potential. He is the same height as Sorokin but has slightly more solid build and is a few years older.

— Why has Kutepov never regained his World Cup level afterwards?

— To begin with, we had some time for preparations to the World Cup. After the World Cup, Kutepov suffered two injuries and Spartak replaced their coach. Both Gigot and Dzhikia did not give room for questioning their readiness and Ilya had a hard time getting to the main lineup. Now the situation has changed and he started appearing in the main lineup. So he changes the attitude by his performance. It is good for us that he now has play time so we have invited him and will have a chat. Will give him our advices so that he plays on a regular basis. We are going to have wider choice then.

— What is Cheryshev’s condition?

— We spoke with all injured players on the phone this morning. Miranchuk picked up immediately, while Golovin and Cheryshev called back after their workouts were over. Miranchuk said he was just gaining the momentum. It would not be correct to invite a player who can hardly help us. So we decided he better stays with Atalanta, where he is well controlled and can better adapt and integrate into the squad. Golovin underwent an ultrascan yesterday and we may have him undergo a MRI today. He is still suffering from some residual effects and his tendon did not fully recover. We can hardly help him about this. So to avoid any complications, we decided to do this camp without him because when you have a player of that level you always wish to exploit his skills. Cheryshev is doing just fine. He is preparing to matches, which is why he has been invited.
— What can you say about the month that has passed since the national team’s most recent match?

— We wish that Dynamo and Rostov qualified further to the European cups. Otherwise, there was not anything extraordinary. Everything seems to be on schedule.

— Why did you invite Kuzyaev who is still a free agent, just like Neustadter?

— They play in different positions. Besides, Daler appeared in both matches during the previous camp as he can gain his shape almost immediately. We will train him to readiness once he is here. We have three matches ahead. Kuzyaev has proved everything during the last camp.

— A third of the season is over but Daler has not yet decided which team to play for. You cannot support him forever...

— This is a right question. But I replied already. Kuzyaev has an outstanding physiology. I spoke to Daler a week ago. We cannot rush him about his decision-making in regards to his club affiliation. I believe this will be resolved soon. His knows my opinion from the last camp. But I do not know all the details. We need to welcome a player who wishes to move to a different country and play in a different league. That is a step away from the comfort zone and that is advantageous for us. Russian clubs that are interested in contracting Kuzyaev may take a break so that Kuzyaev could try something new out. Transfers don’t happen at once, many things need to fit for a transfer to be arranged. So I accept the situation with proper understanding. We need to let Daler take a decision he wants. If something goes wrong, then he will be available to the Russian clubs. Kuzyaev is a good guy, he recently defended his scientific thesis and we congratulated him on that. We need to respect his decision. He is not confused. Daler is focused on the wish that he has. He has a certain objective.

— Do you have any concerns about Zobnin, who does not appear on his primary position as a central midfielder for his club.

— I do not quite agree with this question. He played both matches on that position for the national team and he sometimes appears as central midfielder in his club as well. He plays more often as central midfielder lately. He appeared in both matches during the last camp and I don’t think he could lose the track of play since. I have not seen any challenges about that from the start. We view him as a central midfielder. And we do not interfere with this club, nor have we any intention to, as everybody has their own goals and lineup.

— Why did you invite Sobolev who mainly appears as a substitute for the final minutes lately and is not the main player in Spartak Moscow.

— Sobolev joined us for a camp last year and then got to our squad a year later. He integrated well into the team. Our task is to help him as a footballer. We can appreciate and understand him. Another thing is that our viewpoint is changing due to the new limit. We had 6 foreign players on the pitch and now we can have 8. That means that certain players get less play time. We take the situation as it is anyway. And we need to consider that there are four top class strikers in Spartak.
— Are you ok with most football players based in Zenit St Petersburg and Spartak Moscow?

— Yes, I am ok with that. These two clubs share the first place in Russian Premier League at the moment. That is not made on purpose, everything is happening naturally. Our decisions are based on the players’ performance.
— How would you comment the keepers’ performance?

— Guilherme kept a clean sheet in several matches. Dzhanaev was named the MVP in the last match. Following a failure in Tbilisi, Shunin showed an excellent performance in match with Akhmat and made a solid contribution to victory.
— The situation with Akinfeev in regards to the national team is still remaining unchanged?
— Everything is very simple and Igor answered that question himself. That was Igor’s decision. He must decide for himself how the situation is going to develop. If anything changes I may be the first one to know. Akinfeev is an experienced, professional and honoured player.
— Why do our teams at all levels start underperforming after the 60th minute? This includes the match against Hungary.

— I would not judge by the match against Hungary because we did not have such problems during the match against Serbia. We were leading 3-0 in match against Hungary and that led to self-complacency which is unacceptable at such level. Then we regained possession when the score got to 3-2. That has to do with psychology. And I prefer not to comment on this problem when it comes to club plays.

— What can you say about Smolov?
— I am glad that he scored goals in the last few matches. We had a conversation during the last camp and we worked hard. Another thing is that he did not perform in the striker position during the match against CSKA. But this could be an advantage for us as well.

— We have three matches ahead. Will the lineup against Sweden differ from upcoming Nations League matches.

— This question is hard to answer. We will examine our players’ condition. We are playing a test match against a very solid team – Sweden. We watched Sweden’s last two matches and they played a fine football indeed. And then we have two more matches in the Nations League.
— Coming back to the last camp, did you discuss the relationships between Dzyuba and Sobolev with the two?

- No, I did not speak to them about it. Thatwasunnecessary. Ijustsuggestedhowthesituationcanberesolved.

— What are the preparations going to look like with three matches ahead?

— We need to give credit to the Russian Football Union. RFU President Alexander Dyukov outlined the issue immediately after the match in Budapest. When we learned about problems in Sweden, we contacted them and offered an alternative solution. As for the preparations, this situation is quite new for us. We can only sketch some ideas for now. The final solution will depend on test results and our understanding of the players’ condition. We also raised the issue of making five substitutions instead of three and this was quickly addressed by the UEFA. It is a pity though that spectators are still not allowed.

— Is it a concern that there are not many international friendlies and little room for experiments accordingly?

— Well, experiments is not the right word when you play under your flag. We earned six points in the last two matches, improved our position in the FIFA rating and entered the top 20 list in UEFA rating which may help us to be allocated to Pot 2 at the World Cup 2022 preliminary draw. By the way, half of our team has been changed compared to the last World Cup.


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