Friday, February 16, 2007

Vlad's Back Part One

It seems like I’ve been away for almost as long as Vladimir Romanov. But, now that he’s back with a bang, it’s time to shake off the blogging lethargy.

Below are some excerpts from Vlad’s interview in Russia that began the storm that’s currently engulfing the Scottish game:

When you took over you declared that Hearts would in a few months be mounting a real challenge to Rangers and Celtic and would be battling for the title. Nobody took you seriously then but you soon returned the club to long forgotten heights. What was the secret of your success?

Celtic and Rangers? Even Kaunas are a match for them on the pitch. The thing is they've turned football into a type of show business with their underhand games. They buy off players and referees.When it comes to weaker teams then nobody can help but if two opponents are equally matched, then the referees can have a real influence on the outcome.

You've got the same thing happening in England where Abramovich's Chelsea are being undermined. Opponents operate using a standard strategy: press-manager- players. Once players have achieved their aims, you need to sell them. Once the manager has got what he wants, and become a star - let him move on and prove it somewhere else. If he's allowed to stay, then he can easily destroy the team and then he will take players with him when he goes.

Things have got that bad in Britain?

That's not the word for it. I went there with the hope that I'd be able to avoid all the dirty stuff that we've all grown used to here. I thought that there everything was clean, ideal, (that I would be dealing) with gentlemen. But it turned out that there everything is even worse.

Worse than here?

Yes, by some way.

In what way is that visible?

They have a different mentality. A different culture, or to be more precise, lack of culture. What do I mean by that? Here, for example, I can say to German (Tkachenko, the Russian football magnate who runs the agency that represents players such as Laryea Kingston and who was sitting next to him during the interview): 'Why are you trying to deceive me?' (German Tkachenko interjects: 'And I would feel ashamed'.) And he would feel ashamed. But if I say that to a British person, they give you an innocent look and say, 'Me? Deceive you? I'll see you in court!' That's the difference.

What we would call base behaviour is the norm for them. It's normal for them to betray one's own club and conduct talks with another club behind their back or not to give their team everything on the pitch because someone has seduced them by waving the shirt of another club at them.

But fans there deserve something much more. They are not like the tiffosi in Italy. British supporters are well-versed, they understand everything, they live for football. But they are being served up a rotten product, even if it is well packaged.

What was the reasoning behind appointing Eduard Malofeev, who failed to win a single game and became the worst manager in Hearts' 132-year history?

Well, if you've got five people in the team working for Celtic and Rangers, then what more is there to say? What could Malofeev have achieved.

Steven Pressley, who recently moved to Celtic, was presumably one of those? Who are the others?

One might say that the captain of the team is already the whole team.