MOSCOW, September 10 (RIA Novosti) - With the start of the Champions League fast approaching, CSKA Moscow moved decisively on Thursday to replace their Brazilian coach Zico with Spaniard Juande Ramos.
The sudden change reflects the CSKA hierarchy's determination to get out of a Champions League group that pits the army club against the champions of England, Germany and Turkey, Manchester United, Wolfsburg and Besiktas.
Juande Ramos coached Seville to UEFA Cup victories in 2006 and 2007, Tottenham Hotspur to the English League Cup in 2008 and steadied the ship at Real Madrid last season after being sacked following Spurs' worst ever start to a league campaign.
Zico has struggled to convince at CSKA after Valery Gazzayev stepped down at the end of last season, having brought two league titles and a UEFA Cup to the club in two spells since 2001.
The Brazil legend never looked like living up to that, especially after the Russian Cup holders were sent crashing out of the tournament by second-tier side Ural in July. Although CSKA are a respectable fourth in the Russian Premier League, they trail leaders Rubin by 10 points with 10 games to play.
Ramos' first game is at home against Krylya Sovetov on Saturday, followed by the Champions League opener in Germany on Tuesday.
Ramos, who galvanized both Tottenham and Real Madrid when he arrived for what were ultimately - and for very different reasons - short spells in charge, will have to repeat the feat in Moscow if he is to meet the club's - and the fans' - expectations.