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- Mr. Capello, as we know, you don’t like talking about line-ups, but we can’t avoid talking about individual players. We’d like to first of all talk about Artiom Dzyuba, who scored six goals in three matches of the Russian championship.
- Less than three months ago he wasn’t such a good player. It’s interesting to watch his improvement.
- Where is he more effective as a player? In Rostov, where he is a big fish in a small pond, or in Spartak, where might not be placed in the starting line-up?
- I don’t like talking about individuals. Let’s talk about soccer more generally.
- Soon the Russian team will meet Northern Ireland…
- It’s a really important step towards the World Cup!
- …What is the main problem of the Russian team?
- The problem is, the team has just resumed the season. Some players are not fit, like Alexander Kokorin and Roman Shirokov. Other players haven’t played a lot of games in their teams. When you play this game, you need to be at the top. The match with Ireland will be a very tough game. Northern Ireland likes to stay, to wait and counter-attack; they’re really dangerous. These are the most important problems we have at this moment. There’s only a short time to prepare for the game; but I hope we’ll be better than we are now.
- You’ve said that currently a lot of players are not at the top of their form. When we look at foreign players during their mid-season, we see them working out in the gym. It seems like our players just hang out instead of training. Do you think this is a problem just for Russia?
- No. I think some players prefer to have their pictures taken at the gym and at other days they do nothing and hang out at night clubs. All players try to do something during the holiday. I will check their weight, their body – but their form will not be great anyway, as you need more games to reach your top.
- Would it be better if the match with Northern Ireland was in June?
- June would be great. When we played against Portugal, we played better than them during the second half. Our players were physically more fit.
- Of course you’ve already analyzed the match with Portugal. Did you notice any mistakes or faulty tactics?
- During the game we had only two forwards: Smolov and Kerzhakov. The only problem I’m unhappy about is the first half hour. We made a lot of mistakes, made a lot of bad passes, we had a chance to play better. Portugal pressed a lot; but otherwise we had a good match. There was also a clear penalty against Portugal which wasn’t awarded. Overall, it’s the small mistakes that make a difference.
- You said that in June Russian players had better form than their Portuguese counterparts. It seems like our players will be in better shape than others when the World Cup starts next June.
- I hope so. The winter break is a good thing. We’re not tired by the time the championships starts, players are in good shape. We start in March… but it’s better to talk about it after the qualification period /laughs/
- Until recently, Russia had another championship season – spring-fall, instead of fall-spring. Which one do you prefer?
- I like the new one. That’s how European countries have their championships. If you win the Russian Premiere League in November, you have to wait almost a whole year to play in the Champions League. It’s important to win the Premier League and to start playing in European championships. For teams, players, for everyone – waiting for nine months to play in these competitions is too long. I think when you stop playing in December and start again in March, it’s good.
- Sorry, I wanted to ask a question about Alexander Kerzhakov – a common question, actually.
- I know what you want to ask – I can’t read Russian, but I know what journalists are talking about – “he stopped scoring, what’s the problem?” I saw the last Zenith and I like Kerzhakov’s game. I saw the goal assist to Andrey Arshavin. Movement in the box is important. I believe Kerzhakov is the best player in the box that we have in Russia.
- Would you say there is a soccer player in Russia which reminds you of your own style when you were young?
- /pause/ No one. /laughs/ I was a mid-fielder, but I scored goals, I was always in front of the goal. My academy training told me: “You need to go to the front to score goals. You need to attack.” I told the same thing Wayne Rooney: you need to get in front of the goal to score goals. Then he started to score goals. It’s the same here, I guess. You need someone to teach you, but it’s not my job now. I need to select particular players for a specific game. I can’t teach them individually what they need to do. You need to work every day to improve.
- When you coached England’s national team, did you have an interpreter?
- Only when I started. I only needed an interpreter for specific soccer terminology, names of exercises. If you translate directly from Italian to English, the words will have different meanings.
- Is it a problem that only a few players on the Russian national team can speak English?
- Yes, it is a problem. For me, words are really important. The moment when you need to tell players something, they need to correctly understand you. This is important. But I have a good interpreter – he speaks Italian, he played soccer and he has a trainer’s license.
- Sports Minister Vitaliy Mutko admitted that he wanted you to stay in Russia until 2018…
- I know, he told me that. Currently I have in mind the upcoming World Cup. Overall, I appreciate such statements. This means he has confidence in me, which allows me to better work with the team. But we can’t talk about long term plans.
- Can you imagine working for so long in one place?
- I worked for five years with Milan; four years with England. But for now I need to focus on the next game – it will be really important.
- Your meeting with representatives of the Paris Saint-Germain club was a real detective story. What was truth and what was fiction?
- The truth is, I have not met with them. During the supposed meeting I was on a small island of Pantelleria with my wife. It was interesting to read these news /laughs/. Of course, when my name is mentioned in relation to such clubs as PSG, it’s a good thing – for me. But I have no plans to leave Russia’s national team. I’m proud that a lot of people are looking for me. That means I’m a good expert.
- England and Italy are already strong soccer countries. Russia is still developing in this regard. Can you compare your work here and in those countries?
- The problem with Russia that it’s a really important country for football, but communication between it and Europe is lacking. We need to work really hard to improve and drive Russian players to the top. We also need to become more competitive, Russia needs to win more international titles.
- In one of your latest interviews, which you gave to fifa.com, you said that in 10 to 15 years there will be a new revolution in soccer. Where and how can it happen?
- I don’t know. We need a new manager. A new idea, we need to find something new.
- Is it possible to find something new in soccer?
- Yes. It’s a beginning of a new era. Look at Barcelona. More possession, more plays by keepers, by defenders. Five years ago they were only giving long forward passes.
- You mentioned Barcelona style. Many people consider their style to be similar to that of Spartak Moscow fifteen years ago, long before Barcelona.
- I haven’t seen Spartak play at that time. I’m sure we’re talking about different things. I’m sure it didn’t play the same style Barcelona now does. It’s not just about ball possession. It’s about winning back the ball. When someone loses possession, all players strive to take it back – that’s the new idea.
- Do you like this style?
- Sometimes it’s boring to watch. It's the same thing over and over again. Also, when you play the style like Barcelona, you need players with a lot of imagination and creativity.
- So, Russian team will not play this style?
- The most important thing for the manager is to put players in the best position and play the best style with the players which you brought. Did you see the DFL-Supercup match between Bavaria and Borussia? Bavaria lost because the team trying playing in a new style, and it takes time to find the perfect solution.
- Guus Hiddink left Anzhi. Do you think he gave everything to Russian soccer?
- He’s a good manager. I’m his friend and I respect him. He is one of icon’s of soccer. It’s really important manager, his quitting is a great loss.
- What made you decide quit as the coach of England’s national team?
- I wanted to be free in my decisions.
- Was it about that scandal with John Terry?
- Yes, it was that scandal. I was vacationing and had poor mobile connection. When I came back to London and talked with the president of England’s Football Federation, he told me that the board decided John Terry was no longer the team’s captain. I told him: “Why did you decide so? Why didn’t you speak with me?” I didn’t agree with this. I would lose leadership over the team. I said “I can’t accept this. Goodbye.” The captain, the line-up, everything, it’s my decision. If this happens to me here, I’ll leave as well.
- Are there enough young talented players in Russia for a good performance during the 2018 World Cup?
- We’ve got someone. But we need managers, coaches. We need them to be courageous, brave, to put some young players on the field. We have some young players, but they sit on the bench. The same thing happens in Italy. In Spain it’s not a problem, young players are trusted more there.
- You suggested that the Russian Premiere League should have 18 teams. Why?
- Then I’ll have more players. I’m an egoist. /laughs/
- How much time do you spend in Russia?
- I’m here almost all the time. After matches I usually go to my apartment in Lugano for a week.
- I know you’re a big fan of theatres and museums. What are some of your favorites here?
- Performances are really good. When I go to Bolshoi, the ballet is fantastic; the music is also fantastic. I like ballet. I visited Mariinsky theatre three times. Once I was disappointed. The star of ballet was a Chinese dancer. It was a disaster. I was disappointed /laughs/. Did you read about this?
- Have your opinion of Moscow and Russia changed since you started working here?
- Moscow and St. Petersburg are different compared to other cities. Moscow is a strong city. I went to Kazan and I was impressed how they changed it in a few months. Fantastic.