A year ago he was in the role of executioner after masterminding a 3-0 win over Spartak Moscow which ended Brian Laudrup tenure at Luzhniki. But 12 months on it’s Dynamo Moscow coach Andrei Kobelev who is looking for work after paying the price for his team’s slow start to the campaign.

The coach, who was awarded an extended contract last year, never really replaced the likes of Danny and Igor Semshov, both sold to Zenit St. Petersburg after the side’s third-placed finish in 2008.

And while Semshov returned before this season, key striker Alexander Kerzhakov made the reverse journey to the northern capital, leaving Dynamo fatally short of fire-power. Just six goals in the opening seven games left the team in 10th place – and exhausted the patience of the directors.

Now they are hoping Montenegrin maestro Miodrag Bozovic can work his magic once more, having transformed goal-shy Amkar Perm and unheralded FC Moscow into challenging opponents.

And he breezed into Petrovsky Park full of confidence about the future, telling the club’s website that the outlook was far from bleak.

“The championship has only just started and I can’t paint the situation in some dark colour,” he said. “At the start of the season, one after another, came meetings with the favourites of the championship. Apart from Rubin we played all the big clubs.”

However, it was unprepossessing displays against the also-rans – notably a dismal 0-0 draw with FC Tom and a scrappy 1-0 win at home to Saturn – which convinced the management a change was needed.

And a frontline led by the unconvincing Andrei Voronin – notorious among Liverpool fans for showing greater commitment to his coiffeur than his colleagues – offers little hope a striking upturn in fortunes.

Bozovic won’t have to tackle the enigmatic Voronin immediately – he’s suspended for their next trip to Spartak Nalchik – but with potential strike partners coming from the youth team ranks it’s not clear who will trouble opposition defences.

But the former FC Moscow coach will have some familiar faces in the dressing room: Dynamo swooped to pluck Alexandru Epureanu, Alexei Rebko and Edgaras Cesnauskas from the wreckage of the now-defunct club.

As for Kobelev, it seems that over-cautious tactics have contributed to his downfall. The jeers which greeted that draw with Tom – where Dynamo played long periods with a lone frontman at home to mediocre opposition – underlined the steady fall in attendances since the enforced move to Arena Khimki.

Fans used to a short trip to Moscow’s Petrovsky Park, currently under development, need a greater incentive to head out of town to a stadium built with little apparent thought about who would use it.

His spell in charge, which began with a desperate fight to escape relegation in 2006, will be remembered for three highlights.

The third-placed finish in 2008 brought European football back to the club for the first time since 2002, and gave the old stadium a fitting send-off in its 70th and final year before a refit.

Last year’s pair of wins away to Spartak – Dynamo’s first triumphs at Luzhniki in over two decades – are also cherished by fans.

And the gritty 1-0 win away to Celtic in the Champions League qualifiers was a thrill for many fans – until a defensive display in Khimki allowed even the notoriously travel-sick Scots to recover and go through 2-1 on aggregate.

But there have been many disappointments, including that Celtic defeat and the subsequent Europa League failure against CSKA Sofia.

Many have questioned the club’s reluctance to invest the proceeds of Danny’s record-breaking €30M switch to Zenit – with the solid but uninspiring Luke Wilkshire replacing the flamboyant Portuguese playmaker.

And while city rivals Lokomotiv, Spartak and CSKA have all found ways to bring promising young players into the senior squad, too many of Dynamo’s hopefuls seem to have stagnated on the cusp of the first team.

For Bozovic, the immediate task is to get Dynamo challenging for a place in Europe; in the longer term the club has several underlying problems to address.


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Photo courtesy: Mikhail Slain