For a man with the hopes of a nation - and the Kremlin - resting on his shoulders, Russia boss Stanislav Cherchesov cut a remarkably relaxed figure ahead of his side's World Cup opener.
The tournament hosts take on Saudi Arabia at the Luzhniki Stadium on Thursday with the pressure firmly on the 54-year-old who has to not only satisfy the country's fans and a hugely sceptical media but also provide the watching Vladimir Putin with reasons to be optimistic.
Putin is hoping to use the World Cup as a showcase for modern Russia and dismal failure from his own team is unlikely to go down well within the corridors of power.
With that in mind, Cherchesov could be forgiven for feeling the pressure but instead he was in a jovial mood on Wednesday, laughing and joking with reporters at his pre-match news conference.
He accepted, however, the need for a strong performance, and positive result, against the Saudis on opening night.
He said: "We have been studying our opponents from day one. There are no weak teams in any of the groups. The first game is important as it will set the tone to a certain extent.
"We are trying to iron out any kinks we have."
Cherchesov, whose players relaxed on Wednesday with a game of Trivial Pursuit, said morale was high in the camp and that criticism - Andrei Kanchelskis has described this Russia team as the worst he has ever seen - was part of the job.
"Our mood is very good, we are ready to work. We did a lot of work in Austria and we have reached a good recent level, especially against Turkey [a 1-1 draw in a pre-tournament friendly] when we showed a bit of the game we want to play," he added.
"Any coach has to accept criticism. I don’t read anything and stay focused on my job. We are trying to do what we’re doing – the fact we are getting criticised, that’s the world we live in today.
"Perhaps some don’t criticise enough and some too much. We never touch upon this topic at all. We have to do everything to turn criticism into praise."
Asked if he had a message for the Russian people, Cherchesov smiled and explained the western media wouild struggle to understand if they did not first understand the local culture.
"You would find it hard to find a way through the labyrinth of the Russian soul," he said.
"It takes us a long time to start driving but when we do we go all the way. But no-one ever achieved anything by words, so we have to follow it up with actions."
|Johnstone grabs hat-trick as England ease past France|
|Pogba and Mourinho disagreement over Instagram video, confirms Pereira|
|Nuggets coach Malone signs contract extension|
|Mayweather accepts Khabib´s challenge: ´We´re fighting´|
|Slovenia sack Kavcic as head coach|
|Morgan and Rashid star as England win rain-reduced ODI in Sri Lanka|
|Romagnoli aims to make Gattuso proud in Milan derby|
|Naldo signs Schalke extension|
|Bills to start quarterback Anderson against Colts with Allen out|
|O´Sullivan makes 147 at ´hellhole´|
|Barcelona know when captain Messi is angry – Abidal|
|Bertens loss hands Pliskova last WTA Finals berth|
|Liverpool star Mane undergoes hand surgery|
|F1 Raceweek: Happy hunting ground for title-chasing Hamilton - US GP in numbers|
|Canelo signs record-breaking DAZN deal|
|England hit by another Vunipola injury absence|
|Gruden: Oakland Raiders ´aren´t tanking´|
|Chiesa focused and happy at Fiorentina|
|We´ll see what´s possible - Henry not limiting Monaco´s ambitions|
|Wembley sale off after Khan offer withdrawn|
|Football needs people like Arsene - Pires keen for Wenger return|
|Abbas five-for torments woeful Australia as Pakistan take control|
|Henry: Wenger and Guardiola inspirations for my coaching career|
|Pires backs Henry and Vieira for Ligue 1 success|
|Bolt rejects Valletta offer|
|Wenger ready for January return to management – but where?|
|NBA 2018-19: The LeBron James effect on teams he has joined|
|Svitolina qualifies for WTA Finals after Pliskova loses|
|Genoa will sell ´superstar´ Piatek, admits president|
|Moutinho targets European qualification with Wolves|
|Embiid: 76ers-Celtics isn´t a rivalry, they always kick our a**|
|Vinicius ´calm´ as he waits for Real Madrid chance|
|Nothing else to say - Ramos posts clip of supposed Sterling stamp|
|Chiellini joins Mind the Gap campaign to help players prepare for retirement|
|Injured Kusal Perera replaced by Kusal Mendis in Sri Lanka squad|
|Big names return for Scotland´s November Tests|
|Essien tells Loftus-Cheek to stay and fight for Chelsea chance|
|Nainggolan relishing challenge of first Milan derby|
|Curry: Slap me if I tire of championship celebrations|
|Sevilla don´t fear Messi or Barca – Kjaer|
|Low: Dropped Muller is still very important for Germany|
|Hayward put ´dark memories´ behind him with Celtics return|
|I hope I´m in Klopp´s good books! - Koeman jokes after resting Wijnaldum|
|Rested Fellaini should be fit for Manchester United, says Martinez|
|France´s mentality must be right - Lloris|
|Bellinger seals dramatic win as Dodgers level up NLCS|
|Curry, Durant lead Warriors past Thunder|
|Kjaer surprised by LaLiga-leading Sevilla as Machin´s men remain grounded|
|A-League preview: Honda the big arrival as fascinating season awaits|
|Mexico 0 Chile 1: Sanchez helps La Roja to late win|
|Celtics too good for 76ers in NBA opener|
|United States 1 Peru 1: Flores salvages late draw for visitors|
|Martinez not worried about Belgium depth|
|Red Sox move ahead of Astros in ALCS|
|Depay ´a joy to watch´, says Koeman|
|Timberwolves owner looking to trade Butler, backs Thibodeau|
|Shepard says Giants have ´total faith´ in Manning|
|Hazard is out of this world – De Ligt enjoys Belgium test|
|Tite: Brazil were better than Argentina|
|Foley eyes World Cup after re-signing with Wallabies, Waratahs|
|Low slams decisive France penalty call|
|I fined him for his goal at Old Trafford! Giggs delighted for Wales hero Wilson|
|Matuidi lauds Deschamps´ tactical nous after Germany win|
|Scaloni excited by Argentina despite Brazil loss|
|Tsonga back in business, Dzumhur dumped out in Moscow|
|Germany suffer six defeats in a year for first time|
|Many clubs have asked about Piatek - agent|
|Bartomeu: Barca open to defensive reinforcements after Vermaelen injury|
|Bonn spoil PAOK´s landmark European game|
|Konta conquers Mertens in Moscow|