An Interview with Chertanovo Director Nikolay Larin: “This is a unique project not only for Russia, but for all of Europe”

Nikolay Larin, Chertanovo’s Director. | Photo: SovSport

We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Chertanovo director Nikolay Larin. In the exclusive interview conducted through Chertanovo’s press officer, we talked about Chertanovo’s long and short-term goals, the impact of the World Cup on Chertanovo, and many other topics. The interview, for the first-time ever in the English press, will follow.

In case you missed it, check out yesterday’s accompanying post on the progress of the Chertanovo project in their first season in the FNL.

READ MORE: Chertanovo Moscow – Finally getting the recognition they deserve?

Q: How does it feel running one of the most unique clubs and successful academies in Russia?

A: Chertanovo is a unique project not only for Russia, but for all of Europe. I think that the philosophy and achievements of our academy are unique in the whole continent. We can only play our own graduates, we can’t sign foreigners, we can’t sign members of other academies. Our team is the youngest in the FNL, the youngest in the PFL, and we’re not even a proper football club in the traditional sense.

We’re an educational institution, and we are punching above our weight. Even in the FNL, we play as an Academy. We have the smallest salaries and budget of any club in the league. I have been connected to Chertanovo for 25 years. As a player, coach, and now a director. I am proud that I managed to find such a strong team and in just ten years, turned them from an unknown club in Moscow to the best academy in Russia.

Now we have a huge number of representatives in all the junior national teams. For example, six of our players became European under-17 champions with Russia in 2013.

Q: As Chertanovo is now in the FNL (the second tier of Russian football), what are your short and long-term goals for the club? What do you want to achieve in the coming years?

A: Yes, our first team is now playing in the FNL. On the pitch, our challenge is to stay in the league. My task as a director is to find new partners; sponsors, investors and advertisers to create conditions for the implementation of more long-term plans, namely, preparing the academy for the RPL.

Currently, we are faced with a difficult problem. Either we have to find money and keep our players, or we have to sell some of the players, and weaken our side. Our long-term plans depend on this. But in any case, our players should be motivated and my job is to ensure that this happens. At the same time, our main task remains the same. We are preparing players for the youth and senior Russian national teams.

Chertanovo forward Maxim Glushenkov (19) has been linked with a big money move to Spartak Moscow.

Q: Many people think that Chertanovo isn’t sustainable, and that young players cannot succeed at the highest level. What do you think of this?

A: I do not know who thinks that. Personally, I’m sure that at Chertanovo’s players will succeed at the highest levels. I am convinced that Chertanovo has created the best conditions in Russia to solve the problem that players face when transitioning from the academy to professional football.

We trust our players, even if they make mistakes. This is something that does not happen in other professional clubs. Already, our players are wanted by Russia’s leading clubs. There is interest from clubs in other European countries. Therefore, to say that our club is not sustainable and our players have no future is absolutely wrong.

Q: What is the key to running a successful football academy like Chertanovo? How has your experience in this field helped you at the club?

A: To achieve success it was necessary to understand ourselves, our motive and goal, and explain to others that everyone at the academy – from the directors to the cleaners – aim to facilitate and attend to the players and coaches. The players and coaches are the main members here. Everyone else should work for them. We’ve created a home-like atmosphere at the academy. Coaches, players, management – they communicate like a family does at home and are equal.

This is very important. I saw something like this when I went to the Manchester United academy to talk about a trial for one of our players. But the most important thing is to constantly learn and discover something new for yourself. Only after visiting the academies of Barcelona, Espanyol, Real Madrid, Atalanta, etc. did I begin to understand children’s and youth football a little. Players of the academy should see the diversity of the world in general, and of football in particular with their own eyes. That’s why our teams are frequent guests at various international tournaments. Our teams have played in Spain, Japan, Italy, Denmark and Ireland and have learnt a lot from their time there.

Chertanovo wonderkid Sergey Pinyaev has had a trial with Manchester United, with another rumoured in the future.

Q: How important is it to train players off the pitch and instill the right attitude in them?

A: It’s very important to be close to the players. One of the main criteria for me while evaluating a coach is to see how well he can explain something to the players. This is the most important component of coaching. I’ve seen many trainers who have sufficient knowledge, but are not able to communicate.

We should put problems in front of the players in training, and they themselves must find the answers to them. We must make the players think, analyse and perform. Only in this way will the learning process be effective.

Q: Are there any specific philosophies that you teach at Chertanovo, which, in your opinion, are very important?

A: In my opinion everything is important. Little things can affect the development of our players, in ways that are both positive and negative. We try to pay attention to everything. As far as the style of the game is concerned, our senior and older academy teams follow a similar style. The rest of the teams have a larger right to improvisation. But we know that as our goal is to make players that will play for other teams, we need to acclimatise them to different styles and tactics. In this aspect, we still have a lot to do. We know our shortcomings and understand that we can do even better.

Q: The influence of social networks on young players today is discussed a lot. What do you think about it?

A: Unfortunately, social networks are a big problem. Well, two big problems. We monitor the activity of our players on social media. Firstly, they should not damage the image of the academy. Secondly, we tell the players that there are better things they could do in comparison to spending a lot of time on social networks or playing video games. For example, they can learn foreign languages. Unfortunately, only a small percentage of players understand what’s more important. It is a common problem in every academy in every country.

Q: How did you find the transition from PFL to FNL?

A: We easily won the PFL, playing a lot of good teams. Objectively we had the fastest and most technical players in the league. We have a very strong coach and a wonderful team. Our players understand that they could move to big clubs and earn a lot of money, however they realise that they won’t get a lot of playing time. And that’s why we stay together. No wonder our fans shout “Together to the end, we are one family!”

Q: What impact did the World Cup and Russia’s performance in it have on Chertanovo?

A: When you play and win at a stadium where the best teams of the World played, in the presence of 24,000 spectators, as was the case, for example, in Saransk (2-1), you love it and want it to always be like that. The World Cup, which was held in Russia motivated young players, added new emotions and made them believe in a dream. Our players now share a common dream, and that is winning the World Cup with the Russian national team.

The Mordovia Arena has an average post World Cup attendance of over 25,000 – hosting second tier football. Photo: Cossrad

Again, we’d like to thank Chertanovo Press Officer Sergey and Nikolay Larin for allowing us to conduct the interview.

You can follow Chertanovo’s academy on Twitter @Chertanovo, and you can follow the progress of the senior squad @FCChertanovo.


Author: Hanu Trivedi

I went to Russia once and got mesmerised. Support CSKA and Real Madrid. Quite optimistic, I don’t know if that’s good or bad when talking about Russian Football.

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