Kurban Berdyev: ''Over the years, I've realized that I was wrong about some things''

The first interview after returning to FC Rubin

Kurban Berdyev: ''Over the years, I've realized that I was wrong about some things'' Photo: Maksim Platonov

The last detailed interview with Kurban Berdyev to a publication media dates back to the beginning of 2012. Having returned to FC Rubin, the author of ''Golden pages'' of Kazan football gives an exclusive interview to Realnoe Vremya, where he frankly outlines the circumstances of his dismissal and of the return to Rubin as well as dispels a number of myths. Besides, the head coach of Rubin tells about the team's preparation for the new season, the negotiations with the leadership of FC Spartak and the national team of Russia and changes in their understanding of football.

I have a good relationship with Rustam Minnikhanov

Well-informed people say that you are far more emotional than it seems. What are your feelings about returning to Rubin?

The most positive ones. But, first of all, I would like Rostov fans were understanding about our transition. They received us very warmly, from the first tour we immediately felt it. The relationship with Rostov fans are still in my heart, as well as of each of the coaches' hearts. So, on the one hand, I am glad to be back in Kazan. On the other hand, there was a sadness as we left the club that supported us. But in general, I have only positive emotions — home, sweet home.

Do you think the Donetsk team will fall apart after you left?

I don't think so. The fans will remain with the team. The previous years showed it when Rostov was in a much more difficult situation than now. Today the atmosphere in the club is much better than it had been before we came. Everything must be fine.

Let us return to the subject of your transition to Rubin. Whose initiative was it and how the negotiations were developing?

There were several offers that I was considering. I will not disclose the details, but when there was the option with Rubin, I stopped considering all the others.

Does it mean that you were going to leave Rostov in any case?

Not exactly, a lot depended on sponsors.

As for the situation, if I was the president of the Republic or president of the club, I would also fire a coach who does not fulfill his task

According to our data, last September at the Board of Trustees of Rubin you were named the next coach of the team ''if Gracia doesn't succeed.'' Did they contact you that time?

I don't know what the leadership of Rubin said in September. Maybe this was discussed long ago. But I have been contacted suddenly and relatively recently. I would say that the negotiations went very fast.

Had you communicated with Rustam Minnikhanov before returning to Rubin?

I have maintained good relationship with Rustam Minnikhanov after retirement. Moreover, several times he helped me in solving personal problems. As for the situation, if I was the president of the Republic or president of the club, I would also fire a coach who does not fulfill his task.

At the last training camp you played the same line-up as with Rostov. Is it due to that the scheme has already been mastered or due to the existing set of players in Rubin?

Indeed, the scheme is already mastered, but you should understand that it is constantly modified. I do not want to go into details, it is unlikely to be interesting to the fans. But there are many nuances in this issue. For example, if one says that a team plays with four defenders, it is not always correct because as a game progresses flank midfielders can go below, and thus there are already six defenders. It all depends on tasks of a coach who initiates these changes. So, I would not say that a particular system is final. Again, it all depends on details. Any tactic has a lot of interchangeable movements, under which it is difficult to talk about the scheme of play as something permanent and immutable. That is, the ball is in one place – and there are three defenders, the ball is in the other place — they are four. The same situation is with forwards — they also can be not only two, but also three, and sometimes four. But, honestly, I wouldn't like to get into these tactical jungle. They are significant only for professionals.

''Azmoun will be with us''

How do you assess the composition of Rubin inherited from the previous leadership and coaching staff of the club? Does it seem to you to be unbalanced?

First, when we talked about my work in Kazan, the transition of Granat and Kudryashov had already been a done deal. I knew that these players will be here. As for the composition as a whole, then no, I do not think it to be unbalanced. Yes, there are certain problems that should be solved, but they come in all teams. There's nothing bad, we solve them gradually.

Do I understand it right that there won't be mass buying of players in Rubin in this transfer window?

I think those we have will start the season. Another question, if the leadership of the club agrees, we can take some players on loan. But I don't think there will be buyings.

Our main task at this stage is to bring joy to the fans. Also, I can promise that there won't be indifferent ones in the team

Could you explain us about Azmoun and Navas. Will they play in Rubin?

Most likely, Navas will not. He left the training camp because of the state of health of his father and he can even finish the career. As for Azmoun, I think, in the coming days we will sign the contract and he will be with us.

In this pre-season, Zenit, Spartak and Lokomotiv are being greatly strengthened. On what, in your opinion, can Rubin claim in the upcoming season?

First of all, we would like the fans supported us. The period is very difficult. We still don't know who exactly and how many players will leave the team. It is also unknown whether it will be at once or in stages. The transfer window closes only in a month and a half, and during this time anything can happen. Our main task at this stage is to bring joy to the fans. Also, I can promise that there won't be indifferent ones in the team.

''Poloz and Yerokhin wanted to Rubin''

They say that Poloz and Yerokhin consulted you before transferring to Zenit. Was there an option of signing them in Rubin? If so, why failed?

The guys wanted to transfer to the Kazan club. But Rubin's financial opportunities did not allow us to compete with Zenit. It is connected with the compliance with the rules of FairPlay.

Kazan worries about a slowed development of Elmir Nabiullin. Not only fans and media discuss this, but also his teammates. Can the Tatarstan pupil accelerate?

Working in Rostov, I did not watch Nabiullin deliberately, excluding training for the match with Rubin. So I cannot say how much he ceded or accelerated. But the last two camps he spent quite actively, and I would not say that he remarkably falls out. As for the progress, instability is natural for a young player who quickly gained a fairly high level. Nature cannot be fooled. He needs only support, and everything will be fine.

After your leaving Rubin, the team ''in the old yeast'' took the 5th place, but in the subsequent years it played worse. Why?

It is hard to say. I did not have an opportunity to follow Rubin closely. I was in Russia rarely, I went to training in top European clubs to learn from the experience.

How has your understanding of football changed over three and a half years out of Rubin?

Let's say, in strategic terms I have revised a lot. The meetings with Marcello Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti and Maurizio Sarri have given me a lot. They've greatly altered my worldview in terms of verticality and synchronicity of interactions on the football field. In general, I think Sarri is one of the best coaches in the world today. The play of his club (S.S.C. Napoli — editor's note) is the closest to me in modern football. I've seen his football philosophy since those times, when he led Empoli, I had the opportunity to observe the training process personally. The paradox of Maurizio is that he didn't play football, but he is one of few who looked into its future.

In strategic terms, I have revised a lot. The meetings with Marcello Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti and Maurizio Sarri have given me a lot. They've greatly altered my worldview in terms of verticality and synchronicity of interactions on the football field

''My dismissal was connected only with the results''

Sergey Ryzhikov in an interview to our edition said that ''Allah revenges Rubin for such separation'' with you. Was the dismissal really so painful?

I don't know what Sergey meant. But any coach should be ready for dismissal. It is a professional part of our work. I'm completely easy about that.

Silence breeds rumours and as a result, speculations. Can you honestly say that the dismissal was connected only with the results of the team, or there were ''traps and pitfalls''?

Only with the results. If there is no result, it is a natural process.

You are still credited with participation in the transfer of Rubin during the times of Sorokin and Gromov. Can you clarify?

I then asked the leadership to fully protect me from the transfer issues and I was not involved in this. And now, thank God, it is the same.

It is believed that you had serious conflicts with Gromov. What were they?

I would not say that there were some serious conflicts. It is more a misunderstanding on some issues. But now we have good relationship with Andrey. Moreover, I myself is a little different. Again, I have travelled a lot, I saw a lot of things. I admit that in some moments, in which I insisted earlier, I was wrong and they were right. I have come to this conclusion over the time. This applies to my relationships not only with Gromov but also with the others.

After two League titles and a bronze you decided to change the style of the play of Rubin. Why, if everything was working?

Actually, no one was going to change anything. Just the wrong interpretation of my words by one journalist turned everything upside down. It gave rise to so many conjectures that I still have to make excuses. Therefore, I think that it is better to be silent than to give interviews. I then just said that I would like to learn some — I emphasise that some — elements of the play of Barcelona. No more. But they interpreted it as if I said we want to play like Barcelona. We really wanted to gain control of the ball because this model allows both to defend and to attack efficiently. It succeeded in Rostov. It is no secret that last season many teams came to Rostov to defend ten together on their half of the field. They feared our counter-attacks, but Rostov also succeeded in positional attacks.

Both Rubin and Rostov are very important to me. If in Kazan we were achieving success for many years, in Rostov they quickly understood what was going on and what we wanted

Since you've mentioned Barcelona, we have a question about this team-era of Guardiola's times. The coach failed to play the game in Bavaria or Manchester City. I have the feeling that the tactics of Pepe without Iniesta and Xavi simply does not work?

You're correct. There are players who are simply pervaded with the play of Barcelona. You see, the thing is in the smallest details that define teamwork. Players like Iniesta and Xavi, they grew up on this football and feel it. Guardiola did not have such players either in Bavaria or Manchester City. Therefore, we can see that Guardiola himself was rebuilding, sometimes playing on the result. As for the current Barcelona, it has also changed and it is a combination of the principles of transition from defence to attack depending on an opponent. Let the principles of football remain the same, but the performers are different.

''Both Rubin and Rostov are very important to me''

Rostov or champion Rubin — which team is closer to your coach ideal?

Let's start with the fact that the team of 2008 was very different from the team of 2009, which had Domínguez. Almost everything was built around that player, and thanks to him we achieved a lot — we became champions for the second time. As for Rostov, it's a completely different team by style and playing. Both Rubin and Rostov are very important to me. If in Kazan we were coming to success for many years, in Rostov they quickly understood what was going on and what we wanted. Navas, Noboa, Azmoun realy helped in this, they are players who were already pervaded with the work in Rubin. In the end, they, along with the players that were in Rostov, made a successful symbiosis, which lead us to the result in such a short time.

After the silver of Rostov, 12 teams out of 16 in the course of last season all the time or for a period of time used your line-up. Do you feel like a trendsetter?

In 2003, we also played with three defenders. Then Jiří Novotný joined the team, and I immediately realized that it was impossible to play with him using four defenders. On the flanks there played Calisto and Boyarintsev. I want to say that I do not feel myself to be a trendsetter. All information is available in open access, and any club can go on a similar line-up. It doesn't mean anything.

You probably watched the matches of the Confederations Cup. Why do the Germans manage to win at such elite events in almost any composition?

I am not going to be original — thanks to the well-developed football school in the country. I know German football, where a giant galaxy of talented young players was brought up. Behind this there is the extensive system of children training.

How do you assess the team's play at the Confederations Cup? What are the prospects of our team in the World Cup?

I think there is a progress. It was clear that the team united and already not indifferent. It is a serious step forward. Another thing is that it takes time and patience. It is still unclear who else will join the team before the World Cup or the same players will play. The head coach decides, but I think prospects are good.

The talks did take place, and they were serious. Frankly speaking, on the part of Spartak everything was at a high level, it is my fault that the transition did not take place

''It is my fault that the transition did not take place''

How true was the rumour of your appointment as the chief coach of the national team of Russia?

The meeting with Vitaly Mutko did take place. There was the dialogue in which I conveyed my vision of team development. But the leadership of the RFU decided to assign Cherchesov in the end.

There is an opinion that you are more a club coach. Do you have a desire to work in the national team?

Do you know a specialist who would not be interested?

Last season was marked with the champion's title of Spartak, which had no titles for 14 years. Why was this breakthrough possible?

First, it is a balanced composition. Second, Spartak had never played with such a frenzy. They won many of the matches literally at the last moments, which had not been characteristic of the team before. Here we must pay tribute to Massimo Carrera, who managed to instill it. It is difficult today to surprise with tactics in modern football, only details decide. In the case of Spartak, perfect symbiosis of the leadership of Spartak and the coach played the decisive role. Carrera felt the support, it is very important for any specialist.

Your failed transition to Spartak has caused a lot of gossips. Could you ''close'' this topic?

The talks did take place, and they were serious. Frankly speaking, on the part of Spartak everything was at a high level, it is my fault that the transition did not take place. There were certain details, I won't tell the specifics.

By Artur Khalilullov. Photo: Maksim Platonov
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