Home > My offside trap > Can’t open up the opposition’s defense? Then open your mind!

Can’t open up the opposition’s defense? Then open your mind!


When Cristi Pustai decided to hang up his boots and grow a beer belly , he chose a path no other ex-footballer with money, cars and hot chicks on his mind would have dared to step foot on. He decided to teach maths in highschool and his return to the game he had abandoned after a rather modest career as a striker was very similar to the always sudden appearance of a teacher in class, after recess: he found everyone out of place, talking very loud, with some preoccupied to “study” in a couple of minutes what they should have prepared at home and the others playing the so-called mind games that, in the absence of a brain and a solid education, ends up in useless and grotesque abuse.

A calculated coach. Cristian Pustai knows how to add points and multiply Gaz Metan's value

It was a class of boys who once were very good in practice, but who are now terrible when they have to explain the theory. And you can see the results in a league that might look like a tight affair, with everyone prepared to defend their ground and the points at stake, but, in reality, it’s only a physical battle (too) often decided by a terrible mistake, not by some special individual or collective move.  It’s Liga I, the competition that highlights Pustai’s intelligence and ability to think outside the box of how to get the ball inside the penalty box and in the net. Thanks to his work, Gaz Metan Medias is pushing for a place in Europe, in spite of some fierce competition, which often goes overboard, leading to some strange to terrible refereeing decisions, as well as the dreadful suspicions of a fixed match every once in a while.

Maths is what remains in the back of your head, after you’ve forgotten everything else. It helped me in my coaching career as well – it created some shelves, where I deposit all my gathered data and keep my knowledge well organized

Looking at the standings that still keep Otelul Galati ahead of everyone else, you might think that I chose the wrong guy, as Dorinel Munteanu’s tactical knowledge and ability to motivate is more praise worthy. I’m not saying it’s not. I’m only saying that Pustai needs to get credit for his ability to take the available players and teach them to play the football he wants to be played, looking very open-minded and creative in the process. You might raise your eyebrow, even if you’re name is not Carlo, when you see the tallest player from Liga I (Zarko Markovic, 2.04 m) making runs from left back and competing against little skilful wingers like Dinamo’s Torje (1,67 m), but you should make an effort and raise them both, as Gaz Metan played and won more than once without fielding a natural forward in the first eleven.

Pustai’s formula was 4-4-2.0, the striker-free 4-4-2. The false “front men” were two dwarfs – Alexandru Munteanu (natural right winger, 1,69 m) and Eric de Oliveira (attacking midfielder, 1,74 m) – who had instructions to stay between the lines at equal distances between the opposition’s centre-backs and central midfielders and not get to distracted by their adversaries’ diallogue and mutual invitations to pick them up. The results were devastating (for those passionate with tactics, the best recorded example is the Round 8 match against Universitatea Cluj) and I’m sure that I’ll have the pleasure to see this winning formula again. Unless the club finally acknowledges that, at least this season, there’s a coach capable to take the small and quiet Medias into Europe, and buys him a striker. Not because it’s necessary, but because it’s a nice thing to do.

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  1. July 13, 2011 at 3:33 pm

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