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Lokomotiv ease towards Russian crown

Monthly review: There has been much activity in the Premier-Liga but leaders FC Lokomotiv Moskva sail on.

By Eduard Nisenboim & Pavle Gognidze

While things continue to go smoothly for FC Lokomotiv Moskva at the Russian Premier-Liga summit, there is a cauldron of activity behind them.

Language barrier
The past month has seen no fewer than four clubs change coach, with FC Dinamo Moskva's Andrei Kobelev the highest-profile casualty. He stepped down just eight games after taking charge, having failed to improve the team's fortunes. His squad, including eight Portuguese-speaking players, will now be led by another Lusophone, Brazilian Ivo Wortmann.

Wortmann wanderlust
Not renowned for his staying power, Wortmann has switched sides an average of once a year since beginning his coaching career in 1972 and has not hidden his desire to move on at the end of next season. He may not last that long if Dinamo continue in the same vein, as Wortmann's first two matches ended in defeat although he did savour victory at FC Saturn Moskovskaya Oblast last weekend.

Petrakov shock
That result left Dinamo ninth and the club's fractious nature makes it no surprise that they are on their third coach this term, but the sacking of Valeri Petrakov across town at FC Moskva did raise eyebrows. Despite steering the team to fifth place, the 47-year-old was relieved of his duties, to be replaced by Leonid Slutski, and subsequently took over at FC Rostov.

Lokomotiv career on
Another capital club could follow suit with Aleksandrs Starkovs's FC Spartak Moskva in the midst of six-match winless streak, which has seen them drop out of title contention. The trophy is likely to remain in Moscow, however, with Lokomotiv eight points clear at the top.

Russian record
A 3-2 home victory against championship rivals PFC CSKA Moskva on 30 July stretched their unbeaten sequence to 27 outings – a Russian record – before fourth-placed FC Rubin Kazan finally broke their resistance with a 3-1 win last weekend, a game that saw Dmitri Sychev suffer a serious knee injury.

Zenit signings
CSKA's title bid looks all but over as their derby loss came in a run of three winless games and they now lie eight points off the pace, albeit with a match in hand. FC Zenit St. Petersburg sit behind them in third, on goal difference only, and hope new signings Robertas Poškus and Aleksandr Anyukov can spur a late charge.

Krylya Sovetov decline
That pair have joined from debt-ridden FC Krylya Sovetov Samara, who have had to offload several big-name players. Denis Kolodine, Patrick Obie, Laryea Kingston and captain Andrei Kariaka have all departed. Finally, Anatoli Bishovets has been unveiled as the new coach of FC Tom Tomsk.