They bought Unirea’s top players, but couldn’t kill the team’s spirit
As expected, Unirea Urziceni, the team lead by Dan Petrescu to a record eigth points in the Champions League’s group stage, was dismantled by the other title contenders, at the beginning of the season. The season that was going to be Unirea’s last in the Liga I, with relegation as sure “as death and taxes”, after the departure of an entire squad. Reserves and coaches included, plus several staff members. The club was going down, but not without a fight.
Players out: Pablo Brandan, Laurentiu Marinescu, George Galamaz, Ricardo Gomes, Iulian Apostol, Marius Onofras and Marius Bilasco (Steaua Bucharest); Adrian Neaga and Sorin Paraschiv (Volyn Lutsk); Valeriu Bordeanu (Dinamo), Sorin Frunza (Rapid), Catalin Grigore (Astra Ploiesti), Dan Matei (FCM Targu Mures), Maurice Junior Dale (Panserraikos); Daniel Tudor, Petre Marin, Bruno Fernanded (released).
Well, the fight started right away, after the appointment of Octavian Grigore, and has made a series of high profile collateral victims. In the last four rounds, Urziceni suffered a heavy defeat at the hand of league leaders Otelul Galati, but managed to snatch three wins against as many serious title contenders. The last two of them came with the same score, 1-0, on the same impossible home ground for those who’d try to play ball, against the mighty Steaua and Dinamo.
Unirea’s results so far:
- Pandurii Targu Jiu (a): 0-0
- Rapid Bucharest (h): 0-0
- FCM Targu Mures (a): 0-1
- Universitatea Cluj (h): 0-1
- FC Brasov (a): 1-1 (Bilasco)
- FC Vaslui (h): 2-1 (Maftei, Bordeanu pen.)
- Steaua Bucharest (h): 1-0 (Semedo)
- Otelul Galati (a): 1-4 (Todoran pen.)
- Dinamo Bucharest (h): 1-0 (Rusescu pen.)
Unirea hardly looked impressive, its’ players rarely caught the eye, but never, never took their eyes off the ball nor tried to save their strengths, taking each single match as their last. The team relies on a small group of players who decided to stay on board, lead by Maftei, Paduretu, Semedo and Rusescu, while the numerous holes of this boat destined to sink without trace are filled by youngsters tired to play in the second division and wait in vain for a call up to the senior team. Eight of them come from Steaua II (Tosca, Batfoi, Pazon, Filip, Vaduva, Matei, Muzac, Lupu), while two were loaned from Dinamo II (Musat and Balgradean), infos that should make even more interesting the club’s latest narrow wins…
The praise this ambitious group of players gets is fully justified. But also misleading. The current series of positive results & surprising wins should stop. This underdog has bitten too many hands already and I expect Unirea to be treated with respect and attention from now on. And, unless Grigore proves to be a solid coach and make this team capable to create, not just destroy, Unirea will have a very hard time collecting the rest of the needed points to avoid relegation.