Lokomotiv eager to get out of the sidings
Two seventh-placed finishes in Russia may not have set an awesome pace for FC Lokomotiv Moskva, but club president Nikolai Naumov is aiming high, telling uefa.com that when the 2009 campaign starts in mid-March his team's "goal has to be to win all the domestic competitions".
Russian champions in 2002 and 2004, Loko's last piece of silverware was the 2007 Russian Cup, but much has changed at the club since then, with a new coach, a new president and a significantly-altered squad. However, the results of all of these changed have not necessarily been positive, with seventh-placed finishes in 2007 and 2008 representing the Railwaymen's worst Russian league finishes yet.
Wins in their final three games of last season silenced calls from some for coach Rashid Rakhimov to be replaced, but the club's only hope of avoiding a second successive season without European football is winning another Russian Cup. That is a big enough task, but the Loko board are expecting much more from their 43-year-old coach, with the 2009 league title in their sights. "We are dissapointed with last season's results," president Naumov told uefa.com. "Our goal has to be to win all the domestic competitions and do so playing attractive football. The final part of the last championship showed that we are on the right path."
Despite that, the club are planning a reasonably radical winter refit as they look to refine their squad. Sergei Gurenko and Vladimir Maminov have already left the club, with a third midfielder, Roman Kontsedalov, being loaned to FC Spartak Nalchik. The club is also eager to offload a number of their foreign players, but with the global economic downturn affecting the transfer market, their only success so far in that regard has been loaning Mali striker Dramane Traoré to FC Kuban Krasnodar.
"We are planning to add eight or nine players to our squad," said Naumov. That process has already begun with the signing of contracts with FC Amkar Perm's Croatian midfielder Tomislav Dujmović, Moldovan international Stanislav Ivanov and former Russia Under-21 captain Oleg Kuzmin, with the latter pair both arriving from FC Moskva.
'Still a big club'
"Lokomotiv have had two bad seasons but this is still a big club in Russia," the 28-year-old Kuzmin told uefa.com. "I also had offers from Krylya Sovetov and champions Rubin Kazan but I chose the Railwaymen because the atmosphere at the stadium here is much better and the club has very modern training facilities. Lokomotiv also have big ambitions and I want to help to hit new heights."