Rarely in football does a father have to relieve his son of his duties as head coach, and even less frequently does he then take up the post himself. However, that is exactly what has happened at Russian Premier League strugglers FC Alania Vladikavkaz.
Valeri Gazzaev left his role as coach of FC Dynamo Kyiv in 2010 to return, as president, to the club he guided to their only top-flight title in 1995 – promptly installing his son Vladimir at the helm. However, after gaining promotion from the second tier last term, Alania have won just twice and sit second bottom of the league, which led former PFC CSKA Moskva and Russia coach Valeri to ring the changes a fortnight ago.
"We found ourselves in a difficult situation," Gazzaev Sr said of the decision to dismiss his 32-year-old son. "We were not getting results and changes were needed. I believe the best possible decision was made. I have thanked my son for his good work. Vladimir is a very responsible person, he knows that he needs to take a break.
"He has already achieved a lot for a young coach. He led Alania to the Russian Cup final [in 2011], competed in the UEFA Europa League and won promotion to the Premier League. I don't know any other coach who has started a career as well at his age. My son has a lot of very positive experience under his belt and now he will have time to analyse everything and visit some top European clubs to see how they work."
Although Valeri has been quick to strengthen his squad with the signing of Belarus midfielder Renan Bressan from UEFA Champions League outfit FC BATE Borisov, results have yet to pick up. Defeats at home to FC Rubin Kazan and away to FC Terek Grozny in the first two games under the new management leave Alania three points adrift of the relegation play-off place going into their last three matches before the winter break.
"There are a number of reasons why Alania have not done well this season," the 58-year-old Gazzaev told UEFA.com. "It's my fault too. We should have strengthened our team more during the mid-season. On the other hand, we didn't have enough resources to do well in the transfer market.
"Now, we have a lot of youngsters in the squad who lack experience. Injuries are another reason as well as psychology. We showed our quality at the beginning, but mistakes in the Zenit match [where they led 2-1 but lost 3-2] had a big impact on the players. There is no pessimism in the squad, however. We are confident we will overcome this situation. It will be difficult but we have time to do something about it."
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