Russia’s media on Monday spared no mercy for national team manager Dick Advocaat and his players after a “disgraceful” defeat against Greece that sent them out of Euro 2012.
“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 the newly returned players on its masthead — “Bastards,” — while Sovetsky Sport daily went for a pithy: “Waste of space.”
“30,000 Russian fans wept, swore and stood silent as their team left the field. Without thanking them or apologizing,” wrote Sovetsky Sport, noting that only Andrei Arshavin applauded the fans at the end.
Tvoi Den focused its 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 traveled 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.
“The Russian team just destroyed the faith of a huge number of our fans,” former Soviet Union player Valery Maslov told the Noviye Izvestiya daily. “Against our ‘intelligentsia’ was a team of real fighters ... Our players’ eyes weren’t glowing at all. They could at least have put up a fight.”
Out of the players, who flew back on Sunday evening to a chilly reception, veteran captain Arshavin 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,” Moskovsky Komsomolets wrote.
“It’s obvious that under the new manager, Arshavin will lose his immunity,” Sport Express wrote.
Sport Express reported that drunken fans waiting outside of his hotel afterwards rowed with Arshavin and another player, and had to be dispersed by the team’s security.
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 soccer history, business daily Kommersant said, wryly noting that Russia were only champions in the amount of media coverage of their players and fans — and even that was negative.
“Not to come out of such a group is a catastrophe,” Spartak Moscow and national player Diniyar Bilyaletdinov, not selected for Euro 2012, told Izvestia.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko acknowledged bitter disappointment on Monday, but said that the 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 the Sport Express daily.