WBA defender Gabriel Tamas makes a fool of himself, just like Victor Piturca, the national team coach
After Romania’s defeat against Holland, in the qualifiers for the World Cup, Tamas hinted towards an end of his international career, after some 50 caps and 3 goals. Angry that the media was harsh on him, although lately he was used on the right side of the defense, in an uncomfortable position, he wasn’t convinced about this step and let others, like Adrian Mutu, throw this bone to a press that rarely gave him breathing (and drinking) space on his returns from England.
Called-up for a friendly game vs Trinidad-Tobago, he was happy to come back for another cup. Sorry, for another cap. His first night in Romania ended up at 7.30 in the morning, with him wasted, making a huge scandal both when leaving the club and when trying to enter a block of flats. Denied access, he didn’t give up and took his time to break the door, climb to the first floor and take the much-needed rest for any professional footballer, sleeping face down on the floor. That’s how the police found him, but when he woke up, apparently he was lively enough to make the officers use handcuffs to take him in. A juicy enough story for the Romanian media, but things just got worse for Tamas, as the building had cameras installed and offered this pathetic image of a player who had a history, but never before a movie like this one…
Victor Piturca, the national team coach, reacted, by dropping Tamas for the game vs Trinidad-Tobago. Unfortunately, he did it in a press conference, when he said the following: “I have replaced Tamas, but no further punishment will be taken against him. He’s an admirable, loyal lad. I am sure all this will go unnoticed in England, but will be a lot of talk over it in Romania.” A normal statement, wouldn’t you agree? In the end, we’re talking about the coach of the national drinking team…
Romania’s national team coach and players said they want 4 points from the double against Hungary and Holland. They got just one, snatched in the overtime of a poor game in Budapest, losing 0-4 in Amsterdam a few days later, after a similar display.
Victor Piturca’s starting eleven for the second game was shocking, with lots of changes and several high risk bets, and the team had no reaction during the second heavy defeat against the Dutch during a campaign that can still have a happy end. In 3rd place, just one point behind the play-off spot, Romania plays at home against both Hungary and Turkey, will travel to Andorra and host in the last game Estonia. Nevertheless, lots of issues must be addressed in order to make it and, apart from the players’ form, the manager’s ability to identify, admit and correct his mistakes is vital for our chances to be just two games away from a place at the Brazilian World Cup. That’s why I think we’re doomed
Unfortunately for us, Piturca lives in a world of his own, refusing critics, entertaining suburban attacks and explaining us that his dictatorship will continue until 2016, when his current deal expires. A deal that stipulates as sporting goals qualifying Romania for the next final tournament of the European championship, a deal that excuses him from any mistakes during the current qualifying campaign, saying that he’s supposed to find the winning formula for the next one. Angry at the heavy, deserved criticism following recent display, Piturca organized a press conference to defend himself, but a lot of his statements can be
twisted turned against him…
- “During the winter, some bookies offered odds on my imminent sacking. It’s very difficult to achieve something under these circumstances.”
- “I don’t see the point of a question regarding my departure from the national team. You can talk about it, but I am not pressured by the results. The president of the Federation was laughing when we talked about it.“
So, the pressure gets to him, but, of course, it doesn’t get to him. The fans and the media harm the national team by talking about it / betting on it, but do not harm him, who is untouchable until 2016. And laughs about it with the guy nicknamed The Godfather.
- “Initially, I didn’t want to call Mutu, as I didn’t and still don’t think he’s physically able to play for both club and national team. I did create a special schedule for him, asking him to come earlier to the training camp. He came late and I told him he’s free to do whatever he wants, that he’s out of the team. The second day he arrived and was a mess for hours, begging to be forgiven. He wasn’t acting, he even cried.”
So, Mutu is not physically ready and he misses out on the special fitness schedule, staying “at a level not good enough for the national team”. Still, Mutu will be among the starters in the first game and will play 90 minutes against Hungary, on a heavy pitch, in Budapest.
- Steaua’s Cristian Tanase was the player with the worst physical shape, according to tests made in the national team’s training camp.
Tanase was in the starting lineup against Holland, playing for 60 minutes, ahead of team-mate Alexandru Chipciu, who had scored the late equalizer in Budapest and was looking in top shape, ahead of Alexandru Maxim, who had also played in the 2nd half of the game vs Hungary and, a few days later, would have started and scored for Stuttgart, against Borussia Dortmund.
- “In this campaign I have given up playing with three defensive midfielders, I only field two. You asked for a spectacular, offensive game, you got it. Our game has changed a bit. Against Holland, we could have defended the entire game and, with a bit of luck, get a point. But we played to win the game!”
In other words, the fans and the journalists are to blame for the defeat against Holland. Didn’t understand the “you got it!” part…
- “This is the country we are living in: we’re quick to judge people, to offer advice, but we don’t look at ourselves first.”
Well, he’s got a point. As the national team coach, I am ashamed of the way the team is playing, but I would like to remind everyone that I am under contract for the rest of my days, so back off!
Relegation isn’t the worst thing that can happen to a Romanian first division club this season. Terrible management, caused mainly by a lack of planning, unsupported ambitions and unrealistic wages, has eventually returned with what could be a deadly bite in the ass.
The first club to raise the white flag was Rapid, at the end of last year. The first effect: a massive clear-out, with basically all the important players allowed to leave on a free transfer, including the Montenegro international Vladimir Bozovic, one of the foreign players with the most appearances in Liga 1 (The all-time leader is CFR’s skipper, Ricardo Cadu – 169 games). From a title contender, Rapid, who lies now in 9th place, 8 points above relegation zone, will rather look behind than ahead, as club owner George Copos decided to put the club into administration. Copos has been saying for years that he is willing to sell the club, but in the meantime did nothing to really work on clearing or at least reducing the level of debt that scared away any possible investor.
Gloria Bistrita followed shortly, but this call was met with less sympathy in Romania. The club that raised the likes of Viorel Moldovan and Lucian Sanmartean has a rather dark history under the reign of Jean Padureanu. Nicknamed The Lord, the 76 years old president of this small club was a key figure in a very developed scheme of fixed matches that for years played the leading role in deciding who wins the title, who goes into Europe and who relegates to the second division. Obviously, Gloria had no worries of going down, being allowed to run with very low costs and also make a profit from a plan that crippled Romanian football. That’s why the club’s level of debt is now at around 3 million Euros – a rather small sum, but still one to demand such a drastic measure.
The name of the third first division club to enter administration is already known: Universitatea Cluj. The club’s accounts are blocked since last summer, the 1,04 million Euros from TV rights that are expected in February will go directly to the state budget and there’s no owner ready to push money, as Florian Walter has moved to Petrolul (alongside a dozen of players) and is hoping to sell Universitatea – a move that will also solve a moral issue (controlling two clubs in the same league) that doesn’t seem to bother anyone else around here.
More could/should follow. Dinamo is still affected a continuous turmoil at ownership level, and among the so called top clubs is in the worst shape, while in relegation zone CSMS Iasi and CS Severin could do the same as Gloria Bistrita and Universitatea Cluj. The club from Severin is the most optimistic of all to escape financial trouble, but with the saviors coming from Greece, maybe we should take all the enthusiastic media stories with a pinch of salt…
Hence the booing. You can hear it every time a player tries to help his team get a free kick or, if the player is really good at it, not like Tottenham’s Bale, get a penalty. There’s an entire debate about diving in the Premier League and below, with some fine players getting the stick for trying to get their clubs closer to victories. That would never happen here, in Romania, where diving will only be sanctioned with laughs and an extra replay on TV, if they’re indeed performed without talent. Yes, talent matters, but you also need other stuff too, like practice and ability to make good judgement, as a referee would definitely take into consideration the fact that, if you’d have resisted that challenge, it was only the goalie left to beat. Either you’re absolutely mad to go down or that was an obvious foul which he didn’t see. Obviously, both answers are wrong – you were simply clever to make him think like that. If you’re playing for the home team, even better. If you’re wearing Steaua’s, Dinamo’s, CFR’s or Vaslui’s shirt, you might have just helped the guy with the whistle buy a nice present for the wife!
Dear English fans, in Romania, all the players are diving and everyone understands it. The fans would boo a terrible diver and will appreciate a talented one. Take Marius Lacatus, the master. Became a legend with Steaua and his number 7 shirt should not be offered to anyone. Lay it nicely inside the box, put two defenders to guard it, add a friendly referee and only then let the new signings fight for it. Or, better said, throw themselves at it. Everybody knew Lacatus was faking it, throwing his head back (big hair helped), even screaming when going down and staying there for minutes, curing quickly with his magic hand all sorts of terrible injuries. Unfortunately for him, instead of becoming a doctor after he hung up his boots, he decided to fake a successful coaching career. Everybody knew that the Lacatus in agony is just fine, fans, team-mates, opponents, referees, yet they could do nothing about it.
And what was there to be done? In the end, Lacatus was fooling the authorities, he was taking that extra step to help himself and his people, bending the law that little bit, a sport everybody was practicing in real life. Putting something in the doctor’s pocket for extra care, going with flowers, coffee or chocolate to any other public authority that needed to realize that you’d really want them to do their job. Steaua’s number 7 was the girlfriend “about to give birth” sitting in the right seat in your speeding car, good enough to convince a policeman to keep your money and return the driving license.
I cannot imagine what would have happened if Lacatus – who did play for Fiorentina and Oviedo – would have joined a Premier League club in the 90′s… Most likely, he would have been booed off from every pitch in the UK, even from people’s lawns and public parks, every week, but what if the English fans would have seen then – and acknowledged – one of the greatest divers of all at that time? I’d say they would’ve taunted now Bale only for being terrible at it…
2-0 vs Estonia, 4-0 vs Andorra and Victor Piturca looks like a happy man. “I’d give my boys a 10!”, said the coach after the win from Tallin and, surprisingly, went further after tonight’s success, offering a 10+. It makes sense only if you think that, before the game, he was happy with a 1-0 win against Andorra (please don’t pay too much attention to the FIFA rankings!), but who saw the match and the struggle to open up a crowded defense would beg to differ.
Romania made only one change to the starting eleven used in Tallinn, with the injured Goian making space for Gaman in central defense, a sign that Piturca isn’t even thinking to work on a plan B. He’s totally focused on making his counter-attacking 4-2-3-1 system work that he’s not using games like this one to prepare an attacking setup for the inevitable moments when Romania will be one or two goals down…
Obviously, the team struggled to score against a very poor team: hazard played a good part in the first two goals, the third came after a set-play and involved an unlucky deflection from Andorra’s keeper, while the last was a brilliant piece of individual skill from Alexandru Maxim… on a counter. We’ve wasted tens of crosses and around 20 corner kicks, which only showed Marica’s problems to use hight balls coming from the flanks and the supporting trio formed by Tanase, Grozav and Torje provided a clumsy overall performance. Torje was lively on the right and scored again, with a nice left footed shot, but he works too much on his own (ignoring the supporting full-back), while his service is often useless. Grozav has some nice touches, but is too inconsistent and runs the wrong channels, while Tanase was very poor, looking very predictable in movement and uninspired when on the ball, getting a very hostile treatment from the angered fans. I could also write a couple of lines about Bourceanu and how limited is Steaua’s anchorman, but I don’t like to repeat myself
Nevertheless, Piturca is happy and I’ll explain why: for him, it was vital to notch these wins against teams that would have played like Romania intends to play versus the group’s favorites. He was disappointed to hear that Estonia failed to cause problems for Turkey, but he’s secretly hoping that Turkey won’t take all the points in Tallinn. Where both Hungary and Holland might make a “faux pas” and he’s dreaming to frustrate all these higher rated teams when playing against them with a similar approach to Estonia’s, but with a touch more of technical quality and tactical knowledge…
Romania kicks-off another qualifying campaign and Victor Piturca won’t have to resign in case he misses out on the tickets to Brazil. His goal is to make it to Euro 2016 – that what his contract says, if you believe it or not – and already some of the players say that it’s not vital to take six points from the first two games, versus Estonia and Andorra. Makes sense, considering there’s no real pressure to finally reach a final tournament…
So, quite relaxed, Piturca should be looking to find the right setup, so he can take the best out of the current set of players and, as I think the current 4-2-3-1 isn’t delivering, I’ll share my thoughts on how I’d see the starting eleven and best tactical setup, using a selection that should have included goalkeeper Dani Coman and attacking midfielder Lucian Sanmartean, both from FC Vaslui.
In goal, I’d go for Pantilimon, who has been training with some of the best players and coaches and has the brightest future of all. Lobont lacks competitive games and the kind of size that will be required at least versus Estonia, while Tatarusanu is so inconsistent that he’s a rotation player even at club level.
The back four poses another problem: who deserves to pair Vlad Chiriches in central defense? Luchin played in the center for Dinamo last weekend and could be a solution, but I’d go for Astra’s captain Valerica Gaman. Would have preferred a quicker centre-back or at least one with a lot of experience and ability to sweep any activity that might happen behind Chiriches, who’s very comfortable on the ball and loves to show it. This way, Luchin can return at right back, as I don’t consider Matel back to his best (and not sure that his best is national team material either).
I’m sure Piturca will pair Steaua’s Bourceanu and Pintilii in front of the defense, in a 4-2-3-1, but I think Pintilii is a natural anchorman and, just like Bourceanu, is more effective when operating alone there. That’s how he earned his first call-ups, that’s how he got the chance to move to Steaua from Pandurii. And I’d prefer him instead of Bourceanu, who’s a hard working guy, aggressive and all, but more limited in terms of vision and timing, vital attributes at this level.
In front of the only anchorman, three dynamic attacking midfielders would push back Estonia and keep its’ defense and midfield very busy, with Tanase and Torje in their favorite positions and the in-form Alexandru Maxim deployed in the central attacking midfielder role that lacks solutions in Liga 1 at this point. He’s great on the ball, mobile, works well on tight spaces and should not miss from Romania’s starting eleven tonight. With an option for the number 10 position, I would have left on the bench Torje and started Maxim on the right side instead – he’s definitely playing better these days!
Upfront, I’d go for a pair of strikers. Definitely! Marica lacks the qualities to play alone upfront, he’s a second striker, useless when forced to play with the back at the goal and to challenge for high balls, sent from the defense or from the flanks. Niculae is this type of player, able to win balls, hold them up, create spaces and also finish and I’m sure Marica and Romania as a team would benefit from his presence on the pitch. It would finally make sense to develop the play on the flanks and go for the cross when opportunities appear…
The first experience as a coach ended badly for Bogdan Stelea, one of the members of Romania’s golden generation. The bald, strong ex-goalkeeper, nicknamed Arnold back in his playing days, lost only one game during his four-games tenure at Astra Giurgiu (former Astra Ploiesti – the club will change cities this autumn) and was probably surprised to hear that he will have to pack after a second consecutive draw against a newly promoted club.
Defeated by Steaua (3-4) after a win away at Gloria Bistrita (2-1), Astra drew 0-0 vs Viitorul Constanta and, yesterday, 1-1 vs FC Severin, two disappointing, but not terrible results, which kept the team in mid-table, its’ favorite place in the standings. Stelea took part of the blame saying there’s still a lot of work to be done for this newly assembled team, a phrase misunderstood by Ioan Niculae, the club’s owner, who went on air during the same TV show and attacked his coach for branding Astra as a… newly promoted.
Niculae – who’s the wealthiest club owner in Romania, but one who must love mediocrity! – got so carried away during the interview that he went further, in a land that has nothing to do with a professional approach in football. “If Stelea thinks Astra is a newly promoted, then he should start looking for a new place to work. We’re the worst team in Liga I. That’s it, Stelea is sacked!”. If this wasn’t enough, a look at the guests of the same TV show, Fanatik, was enough for Niculae to decide on who’s the perfect man for the job! As the camera moved to Gigi Multescu – former Astra coach who helped Petrolul Ploiesti avoid relegation at the end of last season -, Astra’s owner reacted: “Look, I’ve already found the perfect man to take over! Gigi, give me a call after the show is over, you’ve already worked with me in the past and you know that I want to build a successful team!”
Unfortunately, the show ended before a live negotiation of the contract or some transfers, done to please the new coach. We’re lucky, though! The season just started in Romania and the show runs almost every weekend, from Friday to Monday evening!
Socks pulled above the knees, plus a constant care about how the shirts covers his otherwise fragile upper body, with extra care for his flashy haircut (shaved on the sides and at the back, long enough on top to have it in the eyes every once in a while) – this is the way Adrian Stoian “listened” to the national anthem before Romania U21 – Slovakia U21. He was the only player coming from abroad in a Romanian first eleven fueled by relegated teams like Sportul Studentesc, FCM Targu Mures and CS Mioveni. An average team in terms of talent, but the type of squad that should only help him stand out even more. A couple of runs down the left flank, one decent cross, a well placed shot and another poor attempt from long range animated the first half. In the second, he did a lot less, but got the penalty that allowed Mihai Radut to open Romania’s account and show the way to a second consecutive 2-0 win against Slovakia. In both, he rested when the others were defending, rearranged his shirt, pulled up his socks over his precious knees and, after Romania scored the opener, ran to the bench and desperately asked for a bottle of water. It wasn’t that hot, quite on the contrary, and he wasn’t that thirsty either: but he needed it to fix the hair messed-up by the spectacular fall inside the penalty box…
Is this THE Adrian Stoian? The little winger who impressed at Bari, who belongs to AS Roma and is wanted not only by a few other Serie A clubs, but also by Zenit St Petersburg? Probably not. He probably gives a lot more at club level (featured in 29 matches last season) and will probably get a break at some point in a bigger club. But will he cope with that move?
Denis Alibec, a player I saw pull something similar at U19 level for Romania, a year before he got the chance to feature in a couple of games for Inter Milano, in Serie A, tells me that Stoian needs to have a serious look in the mirror and not to admire once again his tattoo and haircut. Because Alibec managed to shot himself in the foot in no time: failing to impress in Milano, was sent on loan to Mechelen, where he lasted for a dozen of matches before being kicked out of the club, and is now hoping that someone else will offer him another chance to start over.
Alibec and Stoian are both 21. Hopefully for their otherwise promising careers, I’m talking only about their age, not their IQ’s…
You’ve all heard what happened to Unirea Urziceni. The 17 million Euros received from the club’s surprising appearance & results in the Champions League’s group stage couldn’t prevent the club from being dissolved a year later. What happened with the money? The kind of money that could have offered Unirea the budget of a contender for a place in Europe for at least three more years without another cent being invested from another source, yet the club ceased to exist shortly after cashing in on UEFA’s prize money…
How come the Romanian law representatives had to sell the goods found at the stadium, like the scoreboard or the team’s massage table, once the club went into administration for failing to pay its debt towards the state money? Ok, I know how things work over here and that the state acts stupid when there’s a political interest at stake, but, really, isn’t this something UEFA should be worried about? Where does the money go? Because in Unirea’s case, it didn’t look like they’ve ever entered the club’s account – the first place the authorities block and withdraw the sums one owes to the state budget.
Another, fresher, example: Otelul Galati. Made it into the group stage of the CL, after winning the title, and collected way over 10 million Euros for being sparring-partner for the likes of Benfica, Basel and Manchester United. The millions kept on coming, but throughout this season the club failed to pay the players on time (with the average yearly wage of maybe 60-70.000 Euros / player). They went on vacation with delayed payments for the last two months, although according to Marius Stan, the club’s long serving president, the club has the money to cover a lot more than that. “We have millions in our account, but the board of administration has blocked it. They await a few more millions, as UEFA will soon complete the transfer of the CL prize money. The board is looking for a way to take part of it and they want me out of their way”, cries Stan in today’s press, which speculates that he’s been already sacked in a meeting that took place this morning…
The good thing is that, in this case, UEFA sent the cash to the right account. The bad thing is that the money isn’t used in footballing purposes. Like paying the guys that got you in the Champions League, developing the club or at least – like in Unirea’s case – keeping it alive…
Let me give you the facts straight away. Two days ago, the following story “leaked” from Petrolul’s offices: “A foreign investment fund ran, among others, by Sven-Goran Eriksson, is interested in taking over the club”. A day later, when it was all still in the dark, the manager Valeriu Rachita, who had already announced his intention to leave this summer, looked for a stronger effect and came out himself with the story on national television. Then, local media presented a written (and already registered with the Local Council of Ploiesti) letter of intent, signed by a certain Nicola Imputato, speaking on behalf of Seamed, an investment bank with offices in London and Auckland. Of course, Eriksson was the name that was going to get everyone’s attention, the most important piece of the puzzle!
All this has been all over the news in the past two days and who could have missed it? Nobody, really! Unfortunately, though, you get the same answer if you browse through the media channels – both local and national – to find out if someone really checks such a story before selling it to the fans. Nobody…
Thanks to Jamie Jackson and David Hills, from The Guardian, who were kind enough to give me a hand, the story reached the coach, who firmly denied any involvement. So, why was the Swede’s name involved in this story in the first place? For business or political interest? My guess is for both
It’s possible that the Italian guy who sent the letter wanted to get the attention of the authorities – although the club that survived in recent years only thanks to public funds now belongs to a businessman – and Eriksson’s famous enough for his recent interest in all sorts of deals, as long as the right amount of money is at stake. It’s also possible that, with the current mayor of Ploiesti, Andrei Volosevici, involved in a desperate campaign to get himself re-elected wasn’t surprised at all by the arrival of this attractive proposal for the future of the club. He will want every vote and football fans would love the idea of challenging for the title one season after barely avoiding relegation. And, with the vote scheduled on the 10th of June, this kind of story does come up at the right time, doesn’t it?