Excellent interview today in Gazeta Sporturilor, with Gica Popescu, the footballer I admired as a kid – yes, loved him more than Hagi, as I was considering truly outstading his ability to take the ball from the goalkeeper and brush everybody aside in a powerful, yet elegant run through the middle, deep into the opposition’s half! -, who told a nice little story from the good old days, when he was Barcelona’s captain. Sir Bobby Robson was the coach and Jose Mourinho, his assistant, and I think you all might enjoy it:
“The afternoon training session was over. We were supposed to be on the bus and head back to the hotel for dinner at 7 o’clock sharp. Everybody was there, except Sir Bobby and Mourinho. Xema, the bus driver, asked: “Popi, now what?”. “Vamos!”, I said, and the guys were smiling in disbelief. Xema insists: “What about Mister?”. “He can handle it, he’ll find a cab.” We left. A quarter to eight, Robson gets to the hotel and looks over the players, who were already eating. “Who said that the bus could leave?”, asked on a serious and a bit angry tone. I stood up and said: “I did, Mister!”. He replied instantly: “Very well, that’s the way a captain should handle things!”. He returned to pay the cab and, the next day, he also payed a fine, for being late.”
He now wears the team’s armband, but is the first to think of a move away from Urziceni. He’s Vasile Maftei, the versatile defender that still plays an important role in Razvan Lucescu’s plans with the national team, who is desperately trying to save his career, as the last season’s runners-up are sinking without trace.
When the team manager left Unirea he promised Maftei that he’d be the first player transferred and Mihai Stoica proved to be a man of his word. Signed by Steaua Bucuresti, he did everything he could to make this happen: asked the owner to prepare the cash, convinced the coach that he needs such a player and even tried to discuss with the hard-core fans that the former captain of their arch-rivals Rapid will be giving 100% in training and on the pitch, maybe not for the red and blue colors, but at least for the money. Stoica stumbled at the last and most challenging hurdle, in spite of his popularity with the fans, who cannot forget that this was a player that got so carried away when playing against Steaua that he loved the show it through large gestures and not very nice words. The final call came today, from the club’s owner – always desperate to regain the public’s support – who stated that a player cannot be transferred, if the fans give the “go-away” instead of the “go-ahead” signal.
I honestly believe that Maftei feels the same thing like his friend, Mihai Stoica: relief. The problem is that the player has now lost the advantage in the mind-games played with his former and beloved club, Rapid, who would have had some problems if they had allowed the move to Steaua to happen without at least a formal bid, for the return of their prodigal son. Now, he only has to wait and hope that Rapid will sell some players this winter, to get the needed 400.000 Euros for his transfer and also afford at least another 15.000 Euros/month. I, for one, cannot wonder what in the world are his agents doing in the meantime. Judging by his credentials, it should rarely get any easier than this…
Name: Vasile Maftei
Position(s): centre-back, right back, defensive midfielder
Curent value (transfermarkt.de): 1.700.000 Euros
Current asking price: 400.000 Euros
Liga I career: 254 matches / 11 goals
This season: 13 matches / 1 goal
National team: 12 matches / 1 goal
“We appologize for Sorin Cartu’s gesture to UEFA, to FC Basel, to our fans and everyone else who love football and sports, in general”. In spite of the formal backing of the coach which took place earlier today, as club president Iuliu Muresan tried to assure everybody that Cartu will lead the team in the next league match, the expected announcement came tonight and Cartu leaves after just a couple of unimpressive months in charge.
He took over just before the first game versus FC Basel and now leaves after the second encounter with the Swiss side, forced by his inability to control himself and an incredible gesture, which counted more than his struggles to make the team look like a title contenter in Liga I and secure a place in Europa League. This incident doesn’t come as a surprise though, as the coach has a history of similar events, once trying to break the dugout’s glass with his head, when sitting on Dacia Mioveni’s bench, and, only days before the Basel episode, chasing an assistant referee down the tunnel, to punish him for some blatant mistakes which affected his team.
A normal decision by CFR, who was tempted to wait until the winter break, but realized that the club’s image is more important than a couple of poor matches in Liga I and it’s going to be very interesting to see who gets the job, with Laszlo Boloni available…
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – FC Brasov 2-1 (Pintilii 83 pen, Apostu 90 / Ilyes 68 pen)
Unbeaten in four games, Pandurii climb out of the relegation zone, thanks to the excellent work from new coach Petre Grigoras. This was a vital game for both clubs and there wasn’t much between two organized teams, until the first huge mistake from a poor ref. Unfortunately, things got worse, as he tried to make up for that error with another invented penalty, although there was a sense of justice in his action. Left with only 10 players on the pitch, after Pandurii equalized from the spot, Brasov failed to hold on to a point and are in the zone everyone had expected to see them, after they lost almost an entire team before the start of the season.
- CFR Cluj – Gaz Metan Medias 1-1 (De Zerbi 1 / Edimar 12 og)
Excellent tactical battle – as always, when Cristi Pustai is involved -, as Gaz Metan managed to cancel quickly a nice goal created by Bjelanovic, who has so much to offer to this team, thanks to his quality and experience. The equalizer came after a deflected free kick from Eric de Oliveira, who is right to feel angry that this was considered an own-goal, as he could have reached Steaua’s Bogdan Stancu at the top of the scorers’ list, with 10 goals in 16 rounds. Impressive stuff! CFR continues to lose very important points and should sound more convinced that they’re out of the title race, as this lack of realism will only do more harm in the near future. Read more…
Timisoara moved as quickly as Tosaint Rickets had gone past its defense, when the Viola met MyPa, at the beginning of the season, and secured his signature at a moment when all the other Liga I clubs “work” in the press, negotiating all sorts of deals and swaps for unrealistic prices.
The Canadian forward gets the nicest sign of appreciation from a club he could have hurried out of the European competitions in August, as he scored three goals in the two encouters that finished 5-4 on aggregate for FC Timisoara. Ricketts has left such a good impression that his new club ignorred his rather poor scoring record from Finland – 9 goals in the past two seasons – and offered him a three years long deal, with the option to extend it for another two.
PS If I were him, I would have gone straight to Timisoara’s centre back Marian Cisovsky and said a big “thank you!”…
Before Italy-Romania, WBA’s centre-back threw a bone to the Romanian press: “You’re going to write a lot more about me in the near future”. Of course, speculation started and someone else tipped the journalists about a transfer to London, mentioning the “close friendship” between Ancelotti and Ioan Becali. Keep in mind that Ianis Zicu and Adrian Mutu moved to Inter because of Becali’s friendship with Massimo Moratti and if there will be a second Romanian player to sign for Real Madrid, after Hagi, it will happen only because the Becalis are in such good relations with The Special One-Nil.
So, with all this solid info gathered in a professional manner, everyone thought of Chelsea, with Terry’s injury considered the second perfect reason for a move that nobody dared to think of last week. Today, we hear that the player’s agent flies to London to discuss the deal, but, in my opinion, this should only place Tamas further away from West Bromwich, yet not a centimeter closer to Chelsea. In fact, I believe that The Blues are just part of the agent’s strategy to find a better deal for
his client himself and, if the defender is going to move to London, it would make sense to see him in either a more wealthy or more ambitious club than WBA. And, I guess that Fulham and West Ham are out, Chelsea’s the bait and Arsenal’s manager isn’t satisfied that Tamas only played in Ligue I – if he was born in France, maybe he had a chance. That leaves us with Tottenham, right?