Mircea Lucescu: "St. Petersburg can be the football capital and the capital of other teams"

The blue-white-sky blue manager spoke about working with the press, the President of the football federation and recent match with Krasnodar.
Мирча Луческу: «Петербург может быть футбольной столицей не только в спортивном плане»
First of all, I would like to apologise for the incident at the last press conference and it was not meant for any of the journalists who are now here with us. I have always, no matter where I worked, had incredibly good relationships with journalists, there have never been any problems. There have been a number of people from the very beginning of my stay in St. Petersburg have not treated me well. I've had 40 years of work as a coach without a break and I do not think there are many managers like me in Europe. I've had no such incidents previously and my life has always been fully connected with football. My experience I think gives me a right to speak out and to analyze the moments that take place in football. I wish that those who ask questions and attack me, first analyzed the situation and the words that were said, then asked me about it specifically. No journalists are able to keep me quiet. We are in a democratic country. 

As an example, the football federation president, who I respect, has some administrative responsibilities, but I have the authority and responsibility for the results. I defend my work, the work of my players. I am angry by the idea that someone thinks he knows what's what, he gives advice and does not know anything, he just swears, nothing else. If I say something about what I've read, and I am well read in Russian, I know everything that is written about Zenit, about me and the team. I know how to win championships and many times have won them. 

As an example of why I mention the president of the football federation. It was in an interview with the ex-president of Spartak, Andrei Chervichenko, published on 4th March. He said that during his career he had never seen the president defending a team. This was said in an interview. After analyzing these words, I expressed my opinion that in three difficult moments, he took the side of one team. It so happened that this was against Zenit. I watched the game with Spartak, while it was not scandalous, things happened. We had beaten Rubin, Amkar and then Arsenal and there were no problems with the refereeing, nobody said anything about it. If you can remember how it was, then in the cup game, Mikhail Kerzhakov was sent off and I saw on the replay that it was wrong. This again made us think and look at things, we went out of the cup and this started to put pressure on the team as we could not win one of the cups and this added to the pressure of winning. If we talk about the pitch where we've played, I said this after the match, then we tested the pitch and I said that it is very difficult to play football on. And so it happened, now we're back at the Peterovsky, we created a lot of chances and the match could have ended in a major victory. I am just expressing my opinion. Maybe I'm too emotional and I argue. If I offended anybody, I apologize to those people. All the responsibility for the poor results are on my conscience. Everything positive that has been this season is to the merit of our players. 

Titles are won not only on the football field, but beyond it. With all due respect to Spartak, I congratulate them and they deserved the title, I congratulate them. There are two players there, whom I love and respect - Luiz Adriano and Fernando and congratulations to them. It is very sad that Shatov's agent and Spartak are friends and he created some problems for us and with one of our players. This has never happened to me before. 

I do not understand and honestly, cannot fully understand the position of the local press and what they've written about us. I can't imagine the Barca press writting such things about Barcelona and Marca writting like this about Real Madrid, Tutto Sporta about Juventus or Gazzetta dello Sport about Milan or Inter. To some extent the local press should be more positive to the players and the coach, that they have at least some support and less criticism. Some praise when we deserve it, but this was very little. For example Valerie Reingold, he is 500% a fan of Spartak Moscow, he even wrote in the St. Petersburg press that we are not a very good side. From the first moment the press in Moscow have always said this and this has had a negative impact on the team and added pressure on us. It is clear that they support them, they live in Moscow and is normal that they want to have the title in Moscow, especially at Spartak, I understand that very well. They have made vicious attacks on us. 

This is a new championship and they have a team that did the work. Probably, the press of St. Petersburg could support our team because we deserve it. St. Petersburg is a great city like Moscow, Maybe the professional league could be located in St. Petersburg, with the Federation based in Moscow. In Italy the federation is in Rome and the league is based in Milan. St. Petersburg may be the capital of football, not only in terms of sports, but also in terms of organizational and administrative organisations. I have raised this problem, but at my age and with my experience, I probably can help Russian football in general. I've got ideas accumulated during my career. Because this system is not very good, perhaps, the national team won't climb in the FIFA rankings much higher, they might not get out of the group stage at the European Championships or the World Cup. This country has incredible potential, unfortunately, it is not very well used. 

We cannot these strange situations continue, like with the new stadium. It was built over ten years, we went out on the pitch and it was impossible to play on, so we went back to the Peterovsky. If we win over Lokomotiv away and are not able to get into the Champions League, then we need to talk about the fact that we played Terek on this pitch and the club has missed out on the Champions League and will lose about 30 million Euros. 

Going back to the issues that I've addressed. When I requested that we do not play there, I was told that the federation asks us to test this pitch before the Confederations Cup. I did not invent anything. I would be ashamed at my age and with my experience to do that. What I've said to you reporters, I'm reasoned and am supported by the facts. Once again, I ask your forgiveness for my emotional behavior after the last game. I did not want to insult you, but to the four representatives of the federation who have put pressure on me. I have the right to speak my mind about what I see and feel? I cannot demand anything from the president of the federation, but I would like him to explain those moments and it would be desirable to hear his opinion. If you have misunderstood me, I offer to discuss it with you and explain myself. I am sure, we will have a decent debate after today's conversation. If you notice, I never talk about the opposition, when they won, I've congratulated them, but I like to speak about the problems we faced throughout the season. 

If CSKA Moscow will get to the Champions League, and they are close to it, then I congratulate them and wish them well there. In the season they played well and were a real contender. 

What is the interview question you're referring too? 

On 4 March the ex-president of Spartak, Chervichenko was asked his opinion on the best transfer for Spartak,  he said that the best transfer was that of President Mutko, who from the very beginning of the championship has advocated for Spartak. These are not my words but the words Chervichenko. I've also thought about this. If we look back at the game with Ural, the ref was entirely right. What was he to do? Was it a yellow card for Pavlyuchenko? What was he to do? The same is true when Dzyuba and Emelyanov started pushing each other. Overall, both should have received red cards, but that is another question. So much talk was incorrect after the match with respect to the refereeing and towards Zenit, but no one has come to me to apologize and to say that it was all right. 

Again we had the game with Krasnodar. If we consider the points, then we had three clear penalties shouts: Mauricio hit the raised hand, it was a clear penalty as the ball was heading into the goal, the cross from Smolnikov that again hit a hand and we had the foul on the edge of the box. Nobody said a word, no one has analyzed it. The game in Samara, Ivanovic struggled with Kornilenko, and the local press found the time to talk about it, this is our press in St. Petersburg. How should I respond to that, as Zenit coach? 

When we fly in an airplane, the players read the newspapers themselves and  are wondering about it, they do not understand why things are like this. We may be criticized for the fact that we are doing things wrong, but don't just indiscriminately find fault with us and only be negative. 

I would like to close this topic. This is the last open training session of the season. I see that you approve of my monologue, I would like to say that after the incident at the press conference that I respect you all very much. Thank you.