With many still reeling from the loss of Marco Silva, Hull City fans’ frustrations may be tempered with the news the Tigers could be set for a real coup.
Although currently in Russia, Leonid Slutsky has emerged as a front runner to become the next City manager this summer as the club look to bounce back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.
While he may not be a household name in England, any manager who has won three league titles in one of the best leagues in the world is sure to appeal to the Allam family. Much like Silva, Slutsky would arrive in England relatively unknown, just another foreigner who may provoke a reaction from two certain football pundits.
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However, his record speaks for itself and in similarly difficult circumstances, it seems the 46-year-old thrives in testing conditions.
“He won three titles at CSKA Moscow, and those titles came while Zenit St Petersburg were spending millions bringing in the likes of Hulk and Axel Witsel. Slutsky had a fraction of the budget, but still pipped them to the post three out of four years, which has given him real pedigree,” Russian football commentator John Bradley told the Mail.
“Comparatively, I believe what Slutsky has done in his football management career so far trumps anything Silva has done. He succeeded against the odds in Moscow and I believe he is now ready for the next challenge.”
And that next challenge has widely been expected to come in England. Slutsky is reportedly desperate for a job in English football, after moving to London in January where he has been living as a guest of Roman Abramovich for almost six months.
He has also been invited to use Chelsea’s Cobham training ground in Surrey as a base to learn the English game and indeed the language, but could we see Slutsky utilising that link on a transfer front next season?
“Clearly Slutsky and Abramovich are close. Especially after what we’ve seen this season with Chelsea players at Huddersfield Town and Tammy Abraham, it would not surprise me to see him tapping into it,” said Bradley.
Russian Football News writer Artem Makarevitch concurs, he says: “As Slutsky mentioned in an interview on Sky Sports, he has a very close relationship with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, even saying that Abramovich is like his agent.
“Slutsky has spent the last few months working for Chelsea as an analyst, and has been seen at many Premier League games. Given that Chelsea loan out so many players each season, it is not impossible to imagine that he could have an advantage in bringing some of Chelsea’s loan-listed players to the KCOM Stadium.”
The Russian has been out of work since resigning from his job in December to seek a new start away from Russia after failing to live up to his typically high standards on a national and domestic level. He resigned from the national side and his stock fell after a poor European Championships before it became clear he would not win the league this season with CSKA.
Nevertheless his reputation remains intact. Regarded as one of the best Russian managers in the game, it was expected that he would come to England to acquire a job with one of the country’s big hitters. A consistent coach, Slutsky almost always deploys his side in the same way and therefore should he join the club, City fans can expect to see the Tigers in a 4-2-3-1 formation, similar to that of Silva.
Two deep midfielders allow Slutsky’s sides to control possession in games, while at the same time looking to catch teams on the counter-attack prompting criticism in his home country for being a little too safe. However, while Bradley admits he won’t play the most attractive football at the KCOM Stadium, he expects Slutsky to get results.
“He plays in the same way most of the time, some might say he is set in his ways and isn’t that versatile, but more often than not, this system has worked for him. It’s organised, not too attractive football,” Bradley added.
“He’s no Jurgen Klopp in the way that he plays football. He does play it safe but he gets results and that is what Hull City need. He improves players too, he tends to get the best out of average players. He took Seydou Doumbia and Ahmed Musa and harnessed their talent before eventually selling them for a big profit.”
So far, so good then. There is a massive job to be done at Hull, after relegation from the Premier League the Tigers need a man who can help the club bounce back at the first time of asking.
However, with six loan players returning to their parent clubs and at least four expected to leave the club this summer, he has the challenge of rebuilding the club with a limited budget, something he has excelled at in the past.
“Whether he can reach this goal or not is something only time will tell,” Makarevitch said. “If Hull manage to keep their best players this transfer window, as well as bringing in a few new faces to accommodate Slutsky’s style of play, there is no reason why they can’t challenge for promotion.
“He has experience managing at the top levels of football, and I think this experience will help him next season.”