Russia midfielder Denis Glushakov has leapt to the defence of under-fire coach Dick Advocaat ahead of Euro 2012.
The Dutchman has been criticised in Russia for his decision to keep faith in an ageing squad and his refusal to give youth a chance.
Advocaat has already agreed to leave his post in July, two years before his contract’s expiry, but Glushakov reckons that his boss has satisfied requirements thus far, and it will only be fair to assess his performance after the tournament.
“I think it would be better to judge him once the team has gotten out of the group stages and see how far we can go,” he told Goal.com.
“Like with Hiddink in 2008, when they beat Netherlands and everyone praised him as a great coach. I think Advocaat is a good coach, but once we’ve seen whether he can get Russia further in the championships, then there will be a different evaluation of him.
“In principle, he’s won a lot at Zenit and elsewhere. Most importantly, the national team has gotten through to the European Championship. His task was to get there and he has done so. So in general he is a good trainer, a specialist.”
Russia have been drawn with Greece, Czech Republic and co-hosts Poland in Group A, and while Glushakov feels his side can advance, he insists that it will be a challenge for all participants to book a place in the quarter-finals.
“In principle we’ve got a good chance of doing well. I wouldn’t say that we have a particularly weak or strong group, it’s a group with all the middle level teams and all on a very similar level,” he said.
“We played a friendly against the Greeks and we didn’t see anything out of this world. Playing the Poles at home will give them confidence, and the Czech Republic are similar in principal. All the teams are equal. I think that, at the end of the group, there won’t be a big gap between the leader and the rest.”
Much of the pre-tournament talk was focused on the injury to star youngster Alan Dzagoev, who has struggled for a toe injury in the lead-up to the group games.
But Glushakov has confidence in his team, and believes that Russia’s strength rests not in any one player, but in the collective.
“It’s difficult to single out one particular player because there are lots of good players in Russia. I hope that Dzagoev recovers soon because he picked up an injury and he’s a young, promising player and he’s got a role to play in the team,” Glushakov said.
“There’s also (Andrey) Arshavin and (Roman) Shirokov, plus (Igor) Akinfeev is back playing after his injury, thank God. There are lots of good players; you can praise all of them.”
Russia enter Euro 2012 with impetus after earning a 3-0 win against Italy in their final warm-up friendly.
Their first group stage fixture will be against Czech Republic on Friday.
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