Spalletti: Zenit back on track
Zenit St Petersburg manager Luciano Spalletti believes the Russian champions are on the road to recovery after being rocked by a damaging internal feud over wages in recent weeks.
Zenit have been riven by internecine discord over the salaries paid to big-money signings Hulk and Axel Witsel that led to Russian national captain Igor Denisov to be dropped. However, on Sunday, they ended a six-match winless streak by beating FC Krasnodar 2-0 at home.
Spalletti, who attributed the recent troubles to the highs and lows of management, described the match as "tough", adding: "Both the result and our team's performance showed me that we're moving in the right direction."
The Italian coach, who has won two league titles with Zenit, meanwhile defended the arrival of new players, saying they were essential to help maintain the club's previous strong domestic form and challenge in Europe.
"Zenit is a club that wants to grow up day by day. And the club owners have the right to choose the players and coaches who can help the club to grow," he added. "We (Zenit) purchased two skilled players who can seriously boost our performance. And anyone who thinks that their arrival has spoiled the chemistry in our dressing room is just putting the brakes on the club's yearning for further development."
Spalletti said that he was hoping that Denisov's revolt over the high salaries being earned by the club rookies Hulk and Witsel would soon be settled and the demoted midfielder would return to the team's first line-up.
"We've always seriously counted on Denisov and have never put the importance of his role in the team in doubt," Spalletti said. "Denisov has played in almost every Zenit match before he initiated that conflict with the club. He has started this case and, I believe, he is the person who should settle it. Everything depends on him only."
On Hulk, Spalletti said he was happy with the Brazilian's performances but said he still lacked some understanding with his team-mates.