Roberto Mancini, it seems, really leaves Zenit. In the football world, five candidates are already discussing which, according to various sources, can replace the Italian in the St. Petersburg club.

Mancini on the way out. Who is next?Roberto Mancini // Alexander Nikolaev / Interpress

The Football Federation of Italy on May 1 for the first time officially confirmed the fact of substantive negotiations with the head coach of Zenit Roberto Mancini regarding his work in the team. And although the head of the federation Roberto Fabbricini stressed that all details of the future contract will be discussed after May 13, when the season ends in Russia, the insiders have already told everything. The contract will be designed for two years, that is until 2020. Mancini himself went on reducing his salary to 4 million euros per year (in “Zenith” he, according to Italian media, receives about 6 million euros). Its headquarters will be allocated 5 million euros.


To be frank, Mancini’s departure from Zenit has long been an obvious fact. Only in April he flew to Rome twice: on the 8th and 30th. His trips were accompanied by rumors about negotiations with the Italian Football Federation about the post of head coach of the national team. Every time new details arose. Mancini, of course, denied everything, saying that he had other business in Rome. At the same time, he himself has not even tried to hide his discontent with the state of affairs in Zenit recently. A peculiar cum-out made Mancini at a press conference after the home defeat of “Krasnodar” on April 7 (just before the next trip to Rome) with a score of 1: 2. Then the Italian severely criticized the leadership of the St. Petersburg team. Usually professionals who want to continue cooperation, do not allow themselves this way.

On April 26, the anonymous telegram “Nenobel” reported that Mancini already said goodbye to the players and in the remaining matches he recommended that they fight not for the coach or the club management (“unprofessional”, as he supposedly put it), but for his future contracts. Although our sources do not confirm this conversation and call it “fantasies”. Well, the May 1 interview of the head of the Italian Football Federation finally allowed to fold this puzzle. The question now is only one: who will replace Mancini in Zenit? Variants, as we counted, have already been named five.


8 Apr 2017 at 12:03 PDT

In many ways, the name of the future coach depends on whom Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller will consider worthy to make this choice this season. And not the fact that this will be the current leadership of the club. Recently there was information about the talks in Turin, the president of the “Locomotive” Ilya Hercus and the most successful coach of our time, Carlo Ancelotti. Gerkus allegedly intends to invite the Italian to the next season in the railway club. However, everything can turn differently, and both in the next season can wrap blue-white-blue scarves around the neck. Recall that Gerkus was born in Leningrad and worked in Zenith since 2008 as Deputy Director for Finance and Development. Hercus – fan of “Zenith”, many years writing on the Internet guest under the nickname Seydlitz. In “Locomotive” Ilya came only in 2016, replacing the legendary Olga Smorodskaya.

Against the backdrop of the success of “Locomotive” and the failures of “Zenith”, there were talks that the manager, who proved the efficiency, can return. Recently, these rumors were warmed up by Igor Smolnikov, midfielder of the blue-white-blue midfielder Alexander Manyakov, who stated the following: “They say that the Rothenberg brothers can come to power in Zenit. It’s no secret that Ilya is a “Rothenberg man”.

The same source who spoke about the negotiations of Hercus and Ancelotti, said that in the case of the transfer of Hercus to Zenit, he can pull for himself and three-time winner of the Champions League.


Mancini on the way out. Who is next?To view the full size click the mouse

Another option that fits perfectly into the logic of the club’s management decisions in the last season, under the motto “back to the past.” There is an opinion that Luciano Spalletti is the last coach of “Zenith” in the true sense of the word “coach”. With him, St. Petersburg won two Russian championships in a row (2010, 2011/2012) and for the first time in history went to the playoffs of the Champions League. Spalletti himself repeatedly spoke warmly of the time spent at Zenit.

“For all the years that I worked in Petersburg, I was never asked to explain the outcome of a match, the reason for the defeat or just an unsuccessful game. Miller always spoke to me about the future, about new goals. So I could not look back and do not focus on failures. He always set new goals – this is important. His influence went beyond professional cooperation. I felt warm and understanding in situations where things were not going well. I will never forget my feelings. They gave me to understand that I was very important for the club, “Spalletti was nostalgic in December 2016.

Apparently, the bosses of “Zenith” are also nostalgic for Spalletti. According to unofficial data, about a month ago, representatives of Zenith contacted Spalletti, who now heads Inter. It was reported that during the meeting no agreement was reached, but both sides stated that they are open for negotiations after the end of the season. This is due to the fact that Spalletti can leave Inter for lack of goals: his club is now outside the zone of the Champions League, ranking fifth in the Italian championship.


Mancini on the way out. Who is next?

The Montenegrin specialist, who now trains Artem Dziuba in Tula Arsenal, has been working in Russia since 2008. Most of all he proved himself to work in a rather poor club. Twice trained teams with serious ambitions (Dynamo and Lokomotiv), but this experience was not successful: in both cases he was sent off in a year. Nevertheless, interest in Russia remains.

According to rumors, Miodrag Bozovic is included in the shortlist of “Zenith” for the post of head coach, however, not on its first lines. Allegedly, negotiations with him have already been planned for early summer. The Montenegrin himself, commenting on these rumors, said: “I heard something like this, but nobody spoke to me. Am I willing to negotiate with Zenit? Yes, I’m ready”.


Mancini on the way out. Who is next?

According to the journalist Sky Sport Italia Gianluca Di Marzio, one of the most reliable insiders in European football, Zenit shows a serious interest in the former coach of Milan, Sinishe Mikhailovich. It was alleged that in April, Petersburgers held talks with the 49-year-old Serbian specialist and his representatives. It is also known that Mikhailovich arrived to Russia. The last place of work for the Serbs was Torino, which he left in January.

By the way, Mikhailovich is often called the pupil of Roberto Mancini, under the leadership of which the Serb played in Inter from 2004 to 2006 and two more years, until 2008, helped him in the coaching staff of Nerazzurri. If not for this fact, Mikhailovich would be the most illogical candidate from all the above listed: he is an outstanding football player, but in his 10-year coaching career there is not one more or less serious success. Almost everywhere he was fired after a year and a half for unsatisfactory results.


Mancini on the way out. Who is next?

At Sergei Semak in “Zenith” in his time had high expectations. After the end of his playing career, he immediately went to work in the coaching staff of the main team as an assistant to Luciano Spalletti. Then he helped Andre Villas-Boas and Mircea Lucescu, worked in parallel at the headquarters of the Russian team. In December 2016 Semak became the head coach of Ufa. Already at that time they said that there were agreements with Zenit about a possible return, if there was a need. In 2018, Semak stressed that after the change of leadership these agreements are no longer relevant.

“I had some kind of connection with Mitrofanov (former CEO of Zenit.” – Ed.) And Dyukov (former president of Zenit. “- Ed.). I contacted them, it was agreed with them that if I suddenly need Zenit in any capacity, I return. With the arrival of Sergei Alexandrovich Fursenko, the need for Semak has disappeared automatically. Therefore, all the talk about the return at the moment is absolutely groundless. I do not know the new manual absolutely. And there are no agreements at the moment with the clubs, “Semak stressed.

Nevertheless, rumors of his return do not cease. Semak himself regularly has to refute them.

Artem Kuzmin,


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