– Will it be hard for the team to find motivation for its future Russian competitions? After all, you`ve won almost all the trophies now?
– We have plenty of ambition. We want to play well in European tournaments – in the Europa League and the Champions League. As for playing in Russian tournaments, Zenit has never won the league two years in a row. That`s a pretty big challenge for us. The Russian Cup is also a very important trophy. Zenit has a rich history, but we want more trophies. And it`s normal that we`re going to fight for victory in all tournaments that we play in. Luciano has his own challenge – to beat Spartak Moscow. I`m sure that his personal business plan includes victory over the Moscow side (smiles).
– What do you think about shifting to the Fall-Spring calendar?
– A lot has been said about that, but I`ll repeat my opinion. First of all, we should decide how we envision football and what our plans are for ourselves. If we want the level of the Russian championship to improve, for it to be equal in strength to European leagues, and for our strongest teams to not only win at home, but to win European cups as well, then of course we need these changes. We need to play and train like our competitors, in the same schedule. That`s why we need to change the calendar.
– In your opinion, is it possible for the Russian national team to make it to the final of the 2018 World Cup?
– The fact that Russia won the right to host the 2018 World Cup is already a very big accomplishment. If we play well in the tournament itself that will be a nice bonus.
– What`s the optimal ratio of foreign to domestic players in our clubs?
– I don`t like any kind of limits. There are a number of factors in the world that make progress. One of them is competition. Any limitations reduce competition. And this isn`t good for football.
– Are you satisfied with the system for preparing young footballers and with interaction between the youth department, which is headed by a Dutch man, and the coaching staff of the head team, which is mostly made up of Italians?
– I`m a perfectionist, so it`s quite unusual that I`m completely satisfied. We always have something more to work on. I can say that the system for preparing new players is gradually reaching a new quality level. Separation between Italian, Dutch and Russian coaches is absolutely incorrect. For me the professional qualities of a person is important, not the person`s nationality. And I can say that the qualification of both Zenit`s youth team and the team`s main side doesn`t make any doubts for me.
– How are things going with the contracts of players in the youth team?
– The contracts of almost all the players in the youth team have been prolonged. There are a few exceptions, but there are reasons for that: some players are getting better, others are not. That`s life. We`re in the process of re-signing a contract with Anatoly Davydov.
– Can you name your favorite football club and player?
– My favorite club is of course Zenit, and my favorite footballer is Mikhail Biryukov. From the point of view of organization and management, in my opinion there are two excellent clubs – Barcelona and Manchester United.
– Is it realistic to finish next year`s long season in a new stadium?
– The stadium is being built by the city of St. Petersburg. Mikhail Oseevsky, vice-governor of St. Petersburg, said at the club`s celebration ceremony that Zenit will play in its new stadium in 2012. We hope that`s how it will be. Furthermore, the management of the general contractor, Transstroy, says that it plans to have the stadium built by the end of the 2011 or the beginning of 2012.
– Have you received and offers from foreign teams to buy Zenit players?
– No, so far we haven`t received such offers.
– Is Zenit ready to pay any sum for the footballers it needs?
– I don`t know a single club that has unlimited financial possibilities. All purchases are made using borrowed money. It doesn`t happen that we just come and say to somebody: please give us money. If we think that a player can solve a certain task for us then we go to the bank, take a loan, make money, and pay off the loan. If we take this year, and leave out the money we got from Gazprom group, and prize money from UEFA, then we earned 60 million dollars on our own. Financial and sporting successes are interconnected. We can do very well in Europe with a budget of 150 million euros, and we`re aiming for that. And I hope we reach that level by 2014–2015.