Hagi returns to his beloved Galatasaray, for a second adventure as head coach
Linked with all the big guns from Romania that were looking for a top coach at one point, Hagi stated recently that he will refuse any offer that comes to him after the beginning of a season, as he’d like to avoid the mistakes done in his coaching career. Today, he made an exception for Galatasaray Istanbul, one of the three teams that he likes to consider “home”, alongside Steaua Bucharest and the national team, where he’d surely love to get a second chance to prove himself.
In spite of Galata’s poor start of the season and the pressure he’ll have to whitstand in the first year, I think it’s a good decision, as he had to return to coaching rather sooner than later, and waiting for the right project to come along has kept him on the sidelines a bit too much. He never walked away from football, though, as in the past two years he managed to build an excellent football academy, which is now represented in the Romanian second division, hosts tournaments involving top clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid, and gathers most of the talented kids who are hoping to follow in his footsteps.
Hagi always left me the impression that he needs the two things almost impossible to find in modern football, especially at top clubs: time and patience from the board. The fans have it – they had it in every place he’s worked until now – not just because they still see in him the perfect number 10, but also because every team trained by him was instructed to attack, to build, to impose its’ style and, from the stands, you could see the invisible paths, understand Hagi’s ideas to break down the opposition. Way too often, though, those were affected by his players’ lack of quality, the young coach being criticized for asking his pupils to work on their technique and always try to improve their skills!
Unfortunately for the legendary player, his sound tactical work wasn’t reflected in the standings, so he always left before he managed to make a team play the way he wanted, forced by the obtuse guys who wanted results and thought that if they had Hagi on the bench, they’d see his magic on the pitch. They ignorred his good work, his guts to field very young players like Emre (Galata), Torje and Latovlevici (Timisoara) or Bicfalvi (Steaua), putting into jeopardy his own position by bringing in new blood from the youth setup and trying to build a future for the club and, maybe, for himself. He did it so far just for the clubs…