Europa League: Tottenham ready to face Anzhi Makhachkala side shorn of expensive talent

Suleyman Kerimov's project to turn small club in Dagestan into one of Europe's strongest through sheer weight of cash is over

Tottenham Hotspur have arrived in Makhachkala but the circus has already left town. The big names - Guus Hiddink, Roberto Carlos and Samuel Eto'o - have all gone, no longer performing for the billionaire showman who just wanted to bring some entertainment to his home region.

The supporting cast too - Christopher Samba, Lassana Diarra, Willian, Yuri Zhirkov, Igor Denisov and the rest - have all followed, finding other clubs to employ them now that Suleyman Kerimov has dramatically turned the tap off.

Kerimov's project, launched less than three years ago, to turn this small club in Dagestan into one of Europe's strongest through sheer weight of cash, is over. With all the coaches and the players gone, it is not just that their forward momentum has stopped. Anzhi are in rapid collapse. They are the worst team in the Russian Premier League so far this season, the only team without a win, currently 16th out of 16, behind Terek Grozny and Ural Sverdlovsk Oblast.

Anzhi will now not win the Russian Premier League for some time. They may take a while to match their 2012 and 2013 finishes of fifth and third. Their defeat on penalties to CSKA Moscow in the Russian Cup final in June might be the closest they get to silverware.

Since then, everything has gone wrong. Kerimov has been distracted all summer by a damaging row with Belarus and its president Alexander Lukashenko over the collapse of their potash export alliance, which led last month to Belarus asking Interpol to arrest him.

Within the club itself, tension had grown over the increased power of the foreign players - led by Eto'o, on an annual salary of €20million - at the expense of the Russians. Roberto Carlos, who worked as team director, left in June to work for Sivasspor in Turkey.

When later explaining his departure, Roberto Carlos pointed to Eto'o's growing influence.

“With the arrival of Eto'o, with the values of everyone involved, I had some little problems in the dressing room and had to talk to the Russian players and explain why Eto'o was there,” he told Brazilian newspaper Globo.

“However, a moment arrived when Eto'o thought to interfere with my work, to control the club, taking my position and that of Guus [Hiddink, the coach]. We talked about one thing, and then he went to the players and talked about another.”

Soon enough, Roberto Carlos was gone and in July Hiddink - sensing that something was wrong - followed him, along with coaches Andrei Gordeiev and Ton du Chatinier. Rene Meulensteen, signed after he left Manchester United, was made manager. He lasted 16 days.

Anzhi, trying to counter-balance Eto'o's influence, also spent the summer buying Russian players, including national team captain Igor Denisov and wonder-kid Aleksandar Kokorin. The famously outspoken Denisov did not approve of Eto'o's influence, to say the least, and the dressing room was split in two.

This season did not begin well and a 1-0 home defeat to Rostov on 2 August was the last straw. An exasperated Kerimov announced the restructuring of the club finances and that all the big names were up for sale.

That was Willian, Samba and Diarra's last game for Anzhi. Eto'o played two more. He is now at Chelsea, of course, along with Willian. Dynamo Moscow bought back Kokorin, one month after selling him, along with Zhirkov, Denisov and Samba, who had just returned from Queens Park Rangers. Diarra went to Lokomotiv Moscow.

Of the bigger names, only Lacina Traore and Jucilei da Silva remain, but they will surely be sold in time. There are more players from Dagestan than before, and local coach Gadzhi Gadzhiyev is back in charge. They are considering moving their training ground back home from Moscow. The party is over.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
Highs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
News
news
New Articles
i100... with this review
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam