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FC Anzhi Makhachkala: The Manchester City of Russia
October 23, 2012 12:49

by Liam Riordan

Out of all of the things Russia is known for, it could be said that football is not one of them. While the nation do possess some good teams in their top division such as Spartak Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg, most people do not associate football success with Russia.

russian football team logo Bearing this in mind, there has been plenty of attention from Europe on FC Anzhi Makhachkala over the past few years. This team are regarded as one of the most high-profile in world football and this is mainly due to their immense spending power. While they were one of the small fish of Russian football several years ago, they are now regarded as an exceptionally powerful outfit and many think it will just be a matter of time before they start recording on-the-field successes.

Following on from the above, we take a look at FC Anzhi Makhachkala in more detail...

The Story

First of all, it's worth mentioning that the club were only established in 1991, meaning that the events over the past couple of years have been even more incredible than first thought. It was 2011 when their fortunes completely changed, after billionaire Suleyman Kerimov decided to purchase the club. This was a move that surprised a huge number of people, with the security of the Makhachkala certainly questionable. The fact that players have to train near Moscow and fly in for each home game due to security concerns speaks volumes about this issue, with personnel supposedly travelling around 1,000 miles for each home game. It’s understood that the club are in the process of building a brand new stadium, with some sources claiming that the new owner will pay around 200m for new infrastructure.

The Big Transfers

Following Kerimov's investment, many people were expecting Anzhi to splash the cash although the club perhaps exceeded these expectations by some distance. The fact that Brazilian legend Roberto Carlos was one of the first men through the door highlights just how seriously Kerimov has taken his ownership, although that certainly hasn't been the most notable piece of business. It could be said that the 28m deal to bring Samuel Eto'o to the club was the deal that made the whole of Europe sit up, with Eto'o widely regarded as one of the best strikers in the world following his performances for both Barcelona and Inter Milan. However, while his transfer fee significant; this was nothing in comparison to his salary with Anzhi signing him on a deal worth a supposed 20.5m per year. Of course, there have been other players. Russian winger Yuri Zhirkov completed a lucrative deal from Chelsea, while another player to arrive from England was Blackburn's Christopher Samba. Jucilei da Silva, Mbark Boussoufa, Diego Tardell, Balzs Dzsudzsk and Lassana Diarra have also joined the club, although some have struggled to adapt and have since moved on.

As you may expect, it also didn't take long for the club to appoint a high-profile manager following the takeover. This came in early 2012, with Russian legend Guus Hiddink taking the role.

Anzhi’s Performance

Unsurprisingly, expectations were very high following all of the incoming players. However, Anzhi certainly flattered to deceive in the opening campaign with their new-look squad, with the club finishing in 5th place in the Championship group table. Considering the fact that just eight teams competed in this stage, it was certainly extremely disappointing.

On a more positive note, it looks as though things are slowly swinging towards the club in this new season. The team currently sit top of the division and while it is still early days, it looks as though Guus Hiddink is finally stamping his authority on Anzhi.

A Summary

If there ever was a Manchester City of Russia, FC Anzhi Makhachkala are certainly it. The team have splashed ludicrous amounts of cash and while last season’s performance was poor, it finally looks as though they are starting to show their worth.

However, if you are going to visit Russia, it is not recommended to watch one of Anzhi’s home games. The fact that the players don’t even train in the area shows just how dangerous it is and if you are desperate to see some of the big stars of the team, it might be worth arranging to see them against one of the Moscow clubs. This would not only mean that you would get to see a hugely competitive Russian fixture, but you would also be able to experience the beauty of the country’s capital city.

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About the author
: Liam is a serious football fan and blogs on world football in his spare time. He also confesses to tracking the bookmakers best betting offers to improve the odds when he has a football wager at the weekend. Visit his blog for articles on golf, F1, rugby league, boxing, cricket, horse racing and tennis.

Author: Julia Shuvalova

Tags: Russian sport Russian football Anzhi Makhachkala guest authors  

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