Steaua makes the second most expensive signing in the club’s history: Mihai Costea, from Universitatea Craiova
Gigi Becali didn’t learn a single thing from the 2009 deal that saw Cristi Tanase move from FC Arges to Steaua, in exchange of an incredible 1.8 million Euros, for just 50% of the player’s rights! Tanase has been a huge disappointment so far, in spite of glimpses of quality, like the Anfield display, when he scored against Liverpool, in the Europa League, but that doesn’t stop the Bucharest side make a second, very similar deal.
Yesterday, Becali announced that in a matter of days the smaller of the Costea brothers will join Steaua in the summer. The transfer’s details: 1.4 million Euros for 60% of the player’s rights! Becali said that he initially tried to get Florin, but in spite of a 3 million Euros offer, Craiova’s owner refused to sell, as the deal would have angered the fans. In fact, this is probably a strategy to calm them down anyway, with a third hot prospect joining a Bucharest club, after the other two former U21 players, Valerica Gaman and Stefan Barboianu, now playing for Dinamo.
Does Mihai Costea, who scored only 2 goals in 20 appearances this season!, deserve such an impressive investment? Definitely not. Do you expect to sell him for what? 4 million Euros? Another detail that doesn’t click: looking at the standings and knowing Universitatea’s financial struggle, there was absolutely no rush in concluding the deal now, not to mention the lack of competition for Mihai Costea’s signature! Why not wait until the summer, then, when Craiova might be below the line and with a bigger pressure to sell?
Well, selling Stancu to Galatasaray for 6 million Euros (only half goes to Steaua, the other half wil fill the agents’ pockets) might have something to do with Becali’s “generosity”. In my opinion, though, this deal is definitely related to the “liasons” that make the ball bounce strangely in some matches and Romanian football just a fascinating game, amusing if watched from the right distance, but scary at every approach. With no clear financial rules, no relation to the other European markets and just a firm belief that every player that gets to start a Liga I game should deserve at least one million Euros. But, there’s saying: stupid is the one who pays, not the one who asks…
It’s an excellent moment for the Turkish and Romanian media, with daily news on what goes on at the Istanbul club. Every media channel has inside information, reliable sources and knows not just what went on, but especially everything that it’s going to happen.
Hagi has been sacked in the papers a dozen times so far (and counting) and is held responsible for Galatasaray’s terrible season. I’m not saying that he isn’t. I’m not thinking that he should stay either! And that’s because I care for him and I think that, with more time and experience, he could turn into a good coach, while staying in the current madness that surrounds and torments Cim-Bom will do him more harm than go. Will undermine his authority at the next club and could even force him to take another step back and think again if he should pass on his outstanding knowledge and passion for the game or not.
Hagi’s mistakes, in my opinion: has abandoned his principle of not taking over a club after the start of the season; has exposed himself by signing in a very short period three players from Romania; has showed the usual guts in promoting young players, even when he badly needed to deliver results; has forced very good players to take up unconfortable roles (Neill, Stancu) and has rotated others too much, failing to let the team gel.
What everyone who sincerely cares about Galatasaray should ask himself is (and I’m leaving out the very loud press, as well as the board members who are in a continuous struggle for power): will Galatasaray’s problems go away, if Hagi is replaced?
I think not. The buys made by the club are absurd, in most cases. There’s a lack of balance within the team that speaks of a lack of strategy in the transfer market. There’s a lack of discipline in the squad that won’t be solved unless the coach has the full backing of the board. My feeling is – I don’t have all the data, obviously – that some “superstars” are protected by the board members who insisted for their purchase and the situation resembles so much to what happened in recent years with one of Romania’s big clubs, Dinamo.
Hagi was, and the guys that will follow him will be, caught in the middle. Unlike others, he was also the shield that now takes all the bullets. He’ll return home hurt by the fans and the club he loved so much, with the label of a poor coach, on top of the one that read “LEGEND”. And he won’t feel any joy in the near future, when the bullets will find the right targets, while it would be too late for the shooters to realize who was of one of the collateral victims in Galatasaray’s endless struggle for power. Which didn’t took place in the league, not even among Istanbul’s giants, but only in the soul and the mind of a club that has felt the sweet taste of success, but completely forgot the recipe…
Reading the papers since Mutu’s return to the national team is a rare treat. Yesterday, it was “Mutu has arrived four hours earlier than he should have done it, for an individual talk with Razvan Lucescu”. Today it’s: “Mutu has decided to sleep in the afternoon, although the players had a a few hours off!”.
Trying to anticipate a bit, tomorrow we should read that Mutu wasn’t picky at lunch and ate the entire meal, although the pasta wasn’t very good and others complained. On Thursday, he signed autographs even for the kids that didn’t want them, and during the night before the match against Bosnia, he refused to kick the shit out of a waiter who dared to bring him the check, at 5 o’clock in the morning.
I won’t go any further with this. I’m 100% sure Mutu won’t, either…
After helping Hercules promote to Primera Division last season, the veteran striker, now 34, received a blow when he was informed that the club from Alicante decided to release him, paying under 50.000 Euros in compensation, in a moment when most of the clubs had defined their rosters for the next season. He decided to return to Dinamo, in spite of a good offer from newly promoted club FCM Targu Mures, “choosing with the heart”, and faced fierce and sometimes unjust competition for a place in the team. Mostly a reserve in the first half of season (7 appearances as a sub, only 5 starts), he scored two goals and needed one more to become the third all-time scorer in the Romanian league.
THE goal was scored and the objective – achieved, four games in the second half of the season, although he had his share of criticism, in the previous matches. But Danciu-gol delivered in the last home game, against the team that wanted to sign him last summer, and he signed his 190th goal in the Romanian first division, in 439 matches!
Top scorers in Liga I:
- Dudu Georgescu – 252 goals
- Rodion Camataru – 198 goals
- Marian Radu and Ionel Danciulescu – 190 goals.
Here’s Romania’s squad for the vital game against Bosnia:
- Goalkeepers: Pantilimon (FC Timisoara), Tatarusanu (Steaua), Lung Jr. (Universitatea Craiova)
- Defenders: Sapunaru (FC Porto), Rapa (Otelul Galati), Tamas (WBA), Chivu (Inter), Goian (Palermo), Gardos (Steaua), Rat (Shakthar), Salageanu (Otelul Galati)
- Midfielders: Torje (Dinamo), Ropotan (Dinamo Moscow), Florescu (Alania), Alexa (FC Timisoara), G. Muresan (CFR Cluj), Deac (Schalke 04), Cocis (Karpati Lviv)
- Forwards: Stancu (Galatasaray), Zicu (FC Timisoara), Mutu (Fiorentina), Alexe (Dinamo), Marica (Stuttgart)
Calling four similar central midfielders – I was expecting to see Alexa called-up, especially after he was praised by Razvan Lucescu, who called him a “discovery and a plus” after the last friendly, when Timisoara’s captain scored a brace. For the record, the man’s 31.
CFR’s Muresan has also impressed, but in the last league game, against the bottom placed team, but it would definitely be strange to see him starting alongside Alexa. They’re exactly the same type of players. Slightly different – a bit more dynamic and with a small plus in going forward – are Florescu (who is now playing second division football in Russia!) and Ropotan, but, in any combination between these four, Romania will only be able to secure the central zone and build-up by directing the balls to the wide players. We’ll be organized, hard-working, but extremely limited when going forward.
The credit for out of form & squad players – Deac and Marica haven’t played for months, Ropotan hasn’t featured for Dinamo Moscow in 2011, Florescu went down with Alania. But, for Lucescu Jr., this principle applies just in some cases, not when there are players he likes in this situation. Then, it’s important to rely on pretty much the same group of players throughout a campaign, in order to be successful. Yeah, right!
Mutu’s return - it could seem that Lucescu’s looking for the team’s and the nation’s best interest, by calling up Mutu and forgetting what has happened in the past. He’s not, he’s just trying to save his position. He probably won’t. So, this is just a sign of desperation, from a weak man and just an average coach. A lethal combination for our chances to catch the next final tournament…
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – Otelul Galati 0-3
The league started “in style”, with the first game decided off the pitch, as Pandurii failed to clear some older debt with Dinamo and was not scheduled for the first round. This was “the most clever way to fix a match”, according to Otelul’s title contenders, who had to work hard for the points last weekend…
- Rapid Bucuresti – Unirea Urziceni 1-0 (Sburlea 44)
Played on a frozen pitch, this could have gone wrong for the home side, but a key moment was poorly judged by the ref. In the first half, Rusescu was released behind Rapid’s defense and was fouled by the rushing Danut Coman just outside the pitch, but the ref thought otherwise. In front of a brand new Unirea team, Rapid managed to break the deadlock just before the break through Sburlea and defended the result easily in the second half. A valuable win given the conditions and the surprising quality of Unirea’s new roster, which might cause some trouble to the other teams this year…
- Sportul Studentesc – Dinamo Bucuresti 0-1 (C. Munteanu 36)
Usually a high scoring game, this looked like the perfect opportunity for Danciulescu to climb into the third spot in the all time best scorers list, but the veteran wasted several good chances. With Torje, Alexe and Ganea looking set to feature as regular starters, we can expect decent results from the team, especially in the summer, when the Red Dogs should be able to sell at least one or two of them for some hefty transfer fees.
- Poli Timisoara – Gaz Metan Medias 3-1 (Goga 55, Zicu 62, 79 / Dudita 49)
Disappointing in the first half, the game opposed two coaches who tried to surprise each other with the defensive setup. Pustai used the 2.03 m left back Zarko Markovic as an anchorman, to try and control Lukas Magera, while Dusan Uhrin Jr. responded with the centre-back Cisovsky as a box-to-box midfielder. Horrible decisions, no wonder the match took off only after the break, when Timisoara used its most creative players to kill the game.
- Universitatea Cluj – FC Brasov 1-1 (Delgado 54 pen / Ilyes 63 pen)
The home team has invested in some good players this winter, like Abrudan or Adrian Cristea, but they still need time to gel, and a well organized and hard working FC Brasov punished them easily, taking a vital point for their survival.
- Victoria Branesti – CFR Cluj 1-1 (Coman 21 / Muresan 71)
Still thinking and speaking about the title, the champions were in shock when Coman scored an excellent goal and had to work a lot for the draw, a result that should determine the team take a more humble approach in the future. This team is not looking good at all…
- Universitatea Craiova – Steaua Bucuresti 0-1 (Bilasco 31)
There was a good home crowd, in spite of a protest that asked the fans to boycot the match, as an attack to the club’s owner Adrian Mititelu, a sign that Craiova still has the backing of the fans, which will definitely help in the future home games. Steaua showed no significant improvement after the winter break, with the same obvious lack of creativity, while in Universitatea’s team shone another promising youngster, Marius Ologu, while the star, Florin Costea, wasted very big chances and his team’s chance to get at least one point.
- FCM Targu Mures – FC Vaslui 0-2 (Wesley 63, 86)
Not 100% fit, Wesley proved once again that he’s from a different class, proving decisive in the second half with two excellent goals. Unable to sign any new players until the summer, FC Vaslui can consider the Brazilian’s contract extension as the best winter deal they could have done.
- Astra Ploiesti – Gloria Bistrita 1-0 (Oprsal 69)
Chances at both ends, but Gloria lacks now Junior Moraes, the Brazilian sold for 1.2 million Euros to Metalurg Donetsk, which could do a lot of harm in the standings, this year. Astra could also do with a quality striker – their best scorer, Fatai, is out injured -, but this is one of the most hard working and disciplined team in the league, which should be enough to stay away from the danger zone and also earn some surprising results in the near future.