Petersburg coach Luciano Spalletti has vowed to stay on despite
mounting pressure on him to resign following a streak of poor results
in recent matches.
to make it absolutely clear - I will not quit even if we lose to
Basel," he told reporters on Wednesday ahead of Thursday's Europa
League last 16, second leg tie against the Swiss side at St
Petersburg's Petrovsky stadium.
Russian champions must overturn a 2-0 defeat from last week's first
leg. It was Zenit's third consecutive defeat in all competitions and football pundits have led calls for the Italian's exit.
think Spalletti has exhausted himself at Zenit. You can see it by just
looking at him - it seems he just doesn't have the fire anymore,"
former Zenit and Russia striker Alexander Panov was quoted as saying in
Tuesday's Sport-Express daily.
lost to Liverpool 3-1 in last month's Europa League last 32 tie but
scraped through to the next round on the away goal rule having won the
first leg 2-0 at home a week earlier.
were soundly beaten by Basel in the last 16, first-leg encounter before
going down to Rubin Kazan 1-0 at the weekend when the Russian league
season resumed after a three-month winter break.
course, if you don't get results your role as a coach is in doubt. It's
a normal thing in football," said Spalletti, who has led Zenit to
back-to-back Russian league titles in the last two years.
The Kazan defeat meant Zenit dropped eight points behind league leaders CSKA Moscow with 10 games left in the season.
not a quitter, I know that we can change this situation around," said
Spalletti, adding that first-choice goalkeeper Vyacheslav Malafeyev
will miss Thursday's match against Basel with a back injury.
Zenit will also be without Italy defender Domenico Criscito, who is due to have surgery to repair torn knee ligaments.
reports have linked fellow Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini with
the job at big spenders Zenit, bankrolled by Russian energy giant
Zenit, who endured
a period of turmoil earlier in the season with several senior players
unhappy after they splashed out more than $100 million on Brazil
striker Hulk and Belgium midfielder Axel Witsel, have denied the
reports about Mancini.
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