Football: Bilic sacked after one season in Russia

Former Croatia manager Slaven Bilic on Thursday said he was "unbelievably sad" after being sacked as coach of Russian Premier League side Lokomotiv Moscow after just one season in charge.

The 44-year-old came to Moscow amid high hopes he would lift the Russian Railways outfit back to its former glory but the side could only finish ninth, with the final straw a 4-1 end-of-season drubbing at the hands of champions CSKA.

"I am just very sad, unbelievably sad because I wanted to stay in Russia for the long term," Bilic told the Sport Express daily.

"I signed a contract to put the club onto a new level and not just work for one year and leave the team. But no one is immune to the sack, including me," he added.

Lokomotiv said that the former Hadjuk Spilt, Everton and West Ham defender's contract was ended by mutual consent and appointed Belarussian Leonid Kuchuk in his place.

Bilic, who managed Croatia in last year's European championships, admitted that despite his sadness, his dismissal was not a shock, saying that it had for some time been clear that "we were not in the place that we should be".

He said he would miss Moscow which, when there is good weather, "simply looks like the best city on Earth, fantastic" and did not rule out coming back to Russia one day.

"For the moment I just want to agree to relax. I have been called (with offers) but for the moment I have not decided anything," he said.

"It does not have to be England," he added. "The main thing is that the club is an ambitious one."

Despite Bilic's exit, several prominent foreign managers are still preparing to take clubs into the new season which kicks off next month.

Romania's Dan Petrescu is leading Dinamo Moscow, Dutchman Guus Hiddink is at the helm of Anzhi while Italian Luciano Spalletti is expected to oversee Zenit Saint Petersburg's new campaign despite rumours he could get the chop.

The charismatic Bilic was an almost talismanic figure for the Croatian national team during his six-year stint in charge but told Sport Express he wants now to make his mark in club management.