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By Gennady Fyodorov
MOSCOW, June 5 (Reuters) - Russia coach Dick Advocaat faces inevitable comparisons with his predecessor Guus Hiddink regardless of his team’s showing at Euro 2012.
Advocaat succeeded his Dutch compatriot, who steered Russia to the Euro 2008 semi-finals in their best showing for 20 years, following their failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup.
Unlike his charming predecessor, who was adored by Russian fans and media alike, Advocaat has faced severe criticism throughout the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.
Advocaat, dubbed the ‘Little General’ because of his small stature and authoritative manner, has repeatedly clashed with the media and soccer experts over his selection policy.
Critics have also blamed him for failing to blood new players and reverting to overly defensive tactics.
Former Russia forward Dmitry Bulykin accused Advocaat of “turning the national team into his own private club” after being overlooked despite notching 21 goals for ADO Den Haag to become the Dutch league’s second highest scorer in 2010/11.
Even Advocaat’s own players have had a go at him. Striker Roman Pavlyuchenko complained the coach had his favourites after being relegated to the bench early last year.
However, the 64-year-old coach, who will step down as Russia boss following the Euros to take charge of PSV Eindhoven, has repeatedly stated that he cares little about his image.
His only concern is results and he has certainly had his fair share of good and bad ones in a long coaching career.
He took the Netherlands to the quarter-finals of the 1994 World Cup and semi-finals of Euro 2004 and later managed in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Belgium.
Asked about the legacy he wanted to leave soon after taking the Zenit St Petersburg job on his first spell in Russia in 2006, Advocaat said: “I want to win trophies. That would be the best legacy.”
In his first coaching spell in Russia, he led Zenit to their first league title in nearly a quarter of a century in 2007 and the following year guided them to a UEFA Cup trimph.
During his second spell in the country, Advocaat has again shown he is a master of his trade, as Russia comfortably sealed their place in the finals by topping their qualifying group.
However, his coaching career in Russia will come to an end after the tournament being co-hosted by Poland and Ukraine.
True to his image, Advocaat has brushed aside any speculation about changing his mind and keeping his job if the Russians exceeded their Euro expectations.
“No way. I‘m not going back on my decision no matter what,” he told reporters before departing for the Euros on Sunday. (Editing by Ken Ferris)