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Erratic genius Oleg Romantsev returns to Spartak Moscow


MOSCOW, April 23 (RIA Novosti) - Oleg Romantsev, the most successful Russian club coach of the 1990s, made a surprise return to Spartak Moscow on Thursday and said his aim was to return the club to its glory days.

"We have great aims," he told Sovetski Sport. "We want to revive the club's winning traditions, and its style. We want to return to the club the Spartak spirit."

Romantsev, 55, won one Soviet championship and nine Russian league titles between 1989 and 2003 at Spartak, and also took the club to the semifinals of the Champions League, the UEFA Cup and the Cup Winners' Cup. They have not won the title since Romanstev left.

Famous for his stern manner, somewhat eccentric behavior and, later, his problems with alcohol, Romantsev disappeared from public view in 2005, after brief unsuccessful spells, post-Spartak, at Dynamo Moscow and Saturn FC.

Romantsev was fired from Spartak after telling a group of journalists on the eve of the 2003 Russian Cup Final that Andrei Chervichenko, the club's then-president, had been attempting to sell the match for $1.5 million. The day after the final, which Spartak won, Chervichenko, who had promised not to comment on the Spartak manager's accusations until after the match, fired the legendary trainer.

Since Romantsev's departure, Spartak have had six trainers in six years. The most recent to get his marching orders was Danish football legend Michael Laudrup, sacked last week after the side lost 3-0 at home to Dynamo Moscow. Former Romantsev-era Spartak midfielder Valery Karpin, who is also the club's general director, took over the reins of the side.

"They [Karpin and his assistants] are all my guys," Romantsev told Sovetski Sport. "I've worked with them all. Just recently, they came to me with a proposal on joint work, and, it goes without saying that I agreed."

The trainer stressed that he was not yet officially on the books at the club. However, Spartak midfielder Denis Boyarintsev told RIA Novosti that Romantsev had already attended his first training session.

"It was immediately clear that he had got down to work. He showed the players things, and spoke a lot with Valery [Karpin]," the player said.

Even though the club has a number of foreign players on its books, Boyarintsev told RIA Novosti that there had been "no need to introduce" the trainer.

"He is an iconic figure for Spartak and for the whole of Russian football," he said.

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