MOSCOW, (RIA Novosti sports commentator Mikhail Smirnov)

Oleg Romantsev, the 50-year-old former coach of the Russian soccer team, as well as Spartak Moscow and the Moscow region's Saturn, has been appointed the new head coach of the Russian capital's oldest club, Dinamo Moscow. The club's press service has announced that the coach has signed three-year contract.

This leaves Dinamo bearing more than a passing resemblance to the Spartak management of the 1990s. Romantsev will work alongside Yury Zavarzin, who was once Spartak's general director and now occupies the same post at Dinamo, and Alexander Lvov, who has been Dinamo's press attachй for the past two seasons after a long stint with their red and white rivals across town.

Interestingly, Romantsev had similar moment in his career almost exactly a year ago. He then signed three-year deal with a Moscow region team, Saturn-REN TV. He did not enjoy any particular success there and left the club at the start of this season almost as suddenly as he had appeared, which forced Saturn's management to launch a desperate search for his successor. After that, Romantsev sat out most of the season, restricting himself to short insights about how he was taking a break from football.

At the start of September, the old passion probably began to burn again inside. Romantsev could not refuse the appeals of his former Spartak colleagues at Dinamo to take up a role as a coach-consultant with a promotion in the new season. This would have probably been all, had it not been for Dinamo's woeful form in the league, which has left them in 14th place and only four points above the drop zone. The management at Dinamo - the only club in Russian football never to have been relegated - decided to take urgent action. The club's new owner, Alexei Fedorychev, is also likely to have influenced developments, especially as the famous businessman is willing to pump $150 million into his new plaything. He wanted to see Romantsev in the head coach's position earlier this month.

Whatever the case, Romantsev, who won nine league titles with Spartak and guided the national team to both the World Cup and the European Championship, will have to keep Dinamo up. In one of life's little ironies, what is likely to be the decisive match in this salvage operation will be against none other than Spartak.

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