Luciano Spalletti: “This match must become a turning point for us”

Zenit head coach Luciano Spalletti explained after playing Basel that he`s very upset, clarified how the penalty-kick taker was chosen, and suggested that Zenit can use this match to take a step forward.
Luciano Spalletti: “This match must become a turning point for us”

— Did you decide in advance who would take the penalty? Do you want to appoint penalty kickers from now on for the remaining 10 league games?
— Penalties are always a very delicate moment. The delicate thing is that in a normal, calm situation, there`s no problem selecting a player to take the kick. But there are various factors concerning how the player strikes: fatigue, nerves, and the player`s internal state. From my point of view, in such situations, if the team has a few different penalty kickers, say three or four, then it`s better for them to decide themselves who will take it. Only in the event that they can`t make a decision themselves should the head coach interfere. But usually the players, knowing their own condition, can take the decision that will be most correct.

— Today, you, as a coach, should be happy with the game your players had, but absolutely unhappy with the result. What conclusion can you make from this discrepancy?
— There are two types of games in football: ones where the result is decided by one specific episode, and those matches where the result is resolved by teamwork and team logic, where each player performs a lot of work. The coach should always evaluate the result, in my view favoring the second option. The coach shouldn`t evaluate results which are achieved through individual episodes. The result can be achieved with a penalty earned and executed in the 92nd minute, or it can not be achieved, when the goalkeeper saves a penalty kick with his toe. My team showed today that it`s a team. And it`s a really strong team. Obviously it`s very hard to talk today about the success of the team in light of the fact that we got knocked out of the Europa League. Again, going back to what I said, certain episodes decide the game. We were able to force the opponent to make a mistake thanks to our strong play, and we earned a penalty, which, in turn, we couldn`t execute. But when assessing the results, I should use logic, in terms of the work that the team put in on the pitch. My team demonstrated great character, great strength, and created so many chances, that some of them should have been converted into goals. But that didn`t happen. The fact that the team worked really well today is also proven by the fact that we created so many opportunities even when playing on such a very difficult pitch. In such cold weather, the pitch gets very hard, and it becomes very difficult to create anything with the ball. We got knocked out of the Europa League today, but the team showed that we really have a very strong team capable of achieving significant results. Certainly, the bitterness of defeat closes all other emotions and all other thoughts. It`s very difficult to get rid of this feeling.

— Zenit had 9 times more shots than Basel, but scored only one goal. We can`t say that the team`s skills have improved if, after 27 shots, only 1 went in the net. How do you plan to solve this problem?
— We have to solve this problem. We need to be more precise, especially at shooting, because we worked hard to create the chances that we had, but we weren`t able to take advantage of them. Obviously, in terms of our attack, we can`t say that we showed our best.

— Anyukov played today after coming back from injury. How do you assess his performance? How is he now?
— Anyukov had a very good, strong match, despite the fact that he started training with the main group only yesterday. Anyukov is a football player whose physique allows him to play at the highest level, even if he misses a period of training. His muscles are arranged in such a way that it`s not necessary to do a lot of work in practice in order to do his best in the game.

— Have the club and Gazprom`s managers — Dyukov and Miller — already called you to give you their support?
— Absolutely, Miller, and Dyukov – our managers, are disappointed in this situation just as much as I am. I think that at this moment I should be the one calling them and somehow explain this disappointment and the result of this match. I didn`t see Alexey Miller after the game. I met Mr. Dyukov in the locker room after the game, an we shook hands, but we didn`t have time to talk.

— Zenit showed an outstanding attitude and played a very interesting game. Does this mean that the team will be able to keep this attitude, or will it go back down to the level it was at before this match?
— Today`s match must become a turning point for us. I think that we have to play just as well in our next games as we did today, and play with the same spirit, desire, and quality. I`m sure we`re only going to get better. I don`t see any reason not to take a step forward.