(AFP) Russia’s media on Monday spared no mercy for national team manager Dick Advocaat and his players after what they said was a “disgraceful” defeat against Greece to send them out of the Euro 2012 championships.
“You broke our hearts,” wrote the Tvoi Den tabloid, accompanying its article with a cartoon of two devils stewing the whole team and the Dutchman Advocaat in a cauldron.
Popular daily Moskovsky Komsomolets printed a short but succinct message to newly returned players on its masthead — “Bastards!!!” — while Sovetsky Sport daily went for a pithy: “Waste of space”. Tvoi Den focused anger on Advocaat, who was due to step down after Euro 2012 and coach top Dutch side PSV Eindhoven.
“Go to the devil, Advocaat!” its front page read, with a picture of the manager forlornly watching the game.
It also accused players of lacking the will to win, saying they were “thinking not about the football prestige of their motherland but about their bonuses.” Players let down fans who had travelled to games in historic foe Poland, where violence between rival fans led to more than 180 arrests, it said.
“When your fans risk everything possible so as not to leave you alone in strange, hostile stadiums, you don’t have the right to lose in any case, and especially not in such a disgraceful way,” it wrote.
Out of the players, who flew back Sunday evening to a chilly reception, veteran Andrei Arsahvin came in for the harshest criticism.
“His antics on the field show not just his laziness — he was always lazy — but a minimal level of expectation of himself. To be precise, no expectation at all,” wrote Moskovsky Komsomolets.
Komsomolskaya Pravda contemptuously nicknamed the team the Buranovskiye grandfathers, referring to the Buranovskiye Babushki, the singing grannies who represented Russia at this year’s Eurovision song contest.
The championship was a “dark page” in Russia’s footballing history, said business daily Kommersant, wryly noting that Russia was only a champion in the amount of media coverage of its players and fans — and even that was negative.
Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko acknowledged bitter disappointment Monday but said that players had tried their best.
“It’s all so annoying and upsetting. But I can’t say that I can reproach the guys for anything: they fought as hard as they could,” he told Sport Express daily.