Bagratovich, Spartak’s line of offense has been demonstrating good performance:
they scored during every match and showed the best results in the championship.
What do you think about the defense — is it getting better or not? There seems
to be some stability in the central zone with the pair of Kutepov and
— Yes, they kept playing together after the winter break, but it’s not that easy. We know that Maksimovic is a temporary transfer who doesn’t hide the desire to return to Italy. He was a reserve player there, but here he constantly gets play time. It serves as great practice for him. The national team summons him, he is able to keep good physical condition. He is a solid defender. It is obvious that Maksimovic is doing his best. He wants to make the owners of his previous club want him back. It’s a normal work process. The player shows good performance as a transfer, demonstrates good level and doesn’t disappoint in general.
I think of Kutepov as of a special player. After all, he is rather young; he is only 24 years old. His age difference with Maksimovic is not that great though. That’s why when people ask me about Kutepov I keep saying that he still has to grow. His level is not getting lower, but it doesn’t grow as well. Bocchetti got injured just like Tasci did, so Ilya got a real chance to stay in the first team. Both of injured players have recovered, but Carrera doesn’t want to change anything in the central zone. I think he’s right. But Maksimovic who has his own motivation will play and leave and Kutepov will stay.
It means that he needs to meet the coach’s expectation every time. I think his performance improved a bit when he understood that there are no other players except him and Maksimovic to put in the center of defense. I don’t know what will happen with Tasci, maybe he will leave this summer too. Bocchetti turned 31 and he doesn’t have much play time. Kutepov, on the other hand, has a chance to participate in more than one season. There is another problem. He must understand that his level is not enough to participate in international matches or to go against the best teams of the Russian championship. It’s more complicated. As for the national team and the coming World Cup — both the responsibility and the skill level should at least doubled.
— Do you mean that they still have to greatly improve their skills?
— Yes, without a doubt. The most important thing is that he has the opportunity to do it. He needs to find some sort of sport anger. He also needs to analyze his performance more often, to think about the good skills he has, those skills that can be improved and those skills that he lacks. He has to think of a way to make some improvement. If he starts showing better performance the coach and the fan community will surely notice it. Also, the team will feel it since Ilya’s absence will influence the general performance. It means that he has to become a player that is crucial for the high level of team’s performance. I should say that I don’t compare Kutepov and Bocchetti who is 31 already. Kutepov has the advantages of age and opportunities, but he can lose them very fast. Now it’s all about the leadership. It’s not for everyone, so Ilya has to prove that this is what he wants and what he aims to achieve.
— Is it possible for Kutepov to learn something from Maksimovic?
— Why should Maksimovic teach anyone? He plays for himself. In Soviet times people kept giving others some hints and pieces of advice. Then the experienced players helped their younger partners to grow. The payment was equal, too...
— Maksimovic will leave this summer, what should the club do?
— They should find Petrovic… It’s a joke of course. Right now we can only guess. We don’t know what’s going to happen with Tasci. If he leaves the club will have to strengthen this position. To tell you the truth I can’t see any good players from the Academy, the so-called Spartak pyramid and the Russian championship. There isn’t a single player who would be able to join the team and improve the situation. I mean the Russian championship, the Champions League and the Europa League — all of them. This is why the club needs to find a very strong foreign defender who shows solid performance.
— It would be great if they found at least one.
— It would be even better if they found more… The way our side defenders play also raises some questions. The current team members need to feel some competition. If you want to continue moving up you need to match this height, to understand that there are new challenges, there are opponents who will punish you for even those mistakes which are not usually taken care of in the Russian championship.
— If we don’t have any suitable players in the team then we have to find some transfer players? What is better in your opinion — permanent or temporary transfers? Which option is more promising?
— Everything depends on the management. Some players decide to stay with Spartak after their transfer time ends. Why not? It is one side of a coin. There’s also another: there are people who join the team, play for it for a while and then say ‘Thank you and goodbye!’ In such situations the club has to start from scratch...