Andrea Mandorlini (CFR Cluj), Lopez Caro (FC Vaslui), Vladimir Petrovic (FC Timisoara). Big names, high wages, scary anti-sacking clauses. What’s to be done once they get their teams into deep trouble? Well, Timisoara’s Marian Iancu always liked to look tough in the media, CFR’s Arpad Paszkany plays the old “Backing the coach” trick and looks very supportive (until he finds a replacement), while FC Vaslui’s Adrian Porumboiu has no other option than to beg the former Real Madrid to leave the team without asking for more than a couple of hundred thousand Euros. Not a good moment to be in charge of a club, right?
Mandorlini, saved by last season’s trophies. But not for long…
CFR won the league and the Romanian Cup with him on the bench, but the team rarely offered convincing displays, struggling to adjust to a 4-3-3 that looked good on paper, but poor on the pitch. With the whole summer ahead of him and the chance to create a roster according to his plans, Mandorlini failed once again to impose his ideas. Important changes took place in the team, but CFR kept on switching between a 4-3-3 and a 4-3-1-2, in the first rounds that left the impression that Mandorlini needed a few more friendly matches, in order to make the team click. Six rounds gone and the champions are in mid-table, with the humiliating 0-3 defeat suffered against a newly promoted, Sportul Studentesc, still hurting a lot of egos in Cluj. Read more…
CFR left for the first training camp of the summer, leaving behind some interesting names, who aren’t part of Mandorlini’s plans for the coming season. The central midfielder Sixto Peralta tops this list, a player who gets 375.000 Euros per year and thinks that his deal will expire in June 2011. CFR’s board thinks otherwise, stating that this summer they had the option to extend the deal for one more year and refused to do it. Anyway, looking at CFR’s lack of creative players in midfield it’s possible that Mandorlini could be really happy to see the former Inter Milano player still at the club, when he returns to Romania…
On the black list and looking at least for a good destination to spend a year on loan are Rade Veljovic, Ousmane Viera, Vitinha, Dario Flores and Diego Ruiz, all good players by Liga I standards, with centre back Viera showing also some potential to develop in the near future.
We’re close to the end, now, but I doubt that what’s going to happen in the last three rounds will change things. I’ll explain: CFR is still the favorite to win the title, but the team struggled so badly that Mandorlini should be dismissed even in case of a successful scenario. The only team capable of winning the league seems Unirea Urziceni, so Ronny Levy should be kept at all costs for the coming season, even if Unirea will fail to defend the title won last year under Dan Petrescu. But let’s take a look at the top clubs that should/will change coaches this summer:
- CFR Cluj – in spite of its position in the standings and the club’s chances to win the title, Mandorlini failed to connect with his players and to put his mark on a team that plays poor football for months. Period! He worked during the winter on a tactical system he had to abandon after the first official matches. He recommended three Italian players – Bottone, De Zerbi and Piccolo - who looked completely useless. He saw top players getting out of shape – Kone, Traore – and couldn’t do anything to get them back at their best. Was lucky to draw against strong teams and simply took advantage of his superior roster to win by a small margin – the Italian style – against the smaller clubs. Although he has the backing of the board (intelligent enough to keep the staff and the players focused on the title, hiding the obvious disappointment), Mandorlini will/should not be offered another deal. Verdict: change him!
- Unirea Urziceni – Levy did what few expected: take over from Dan Petrescu and keep what everyone still considers (in spite of everything these players have done even in the Champions League!) an average team, formed by decent, but mediocre footballers, at the top of the league with chances even to defend the title won last season. A solid coach, who tried to further develop the team, going for a more Latin/technical style, who should be kept at all costs. Levy’s problem is that next season he will probably find himself without the likes of Galamaz, Brandan, Bilasco and will be forced to show his recruiting ability, as well. Verdict: keep him! Read more…
- FC Brasov – International Curtea de Arges 1-2 (Zaharia 11 / E. Kone 29, Bacila 81)
Fantastic victory for International, the first under Ionut Badea, “transferred” during the winter break from the relegated FC Arges, who are undefeated for three matches and starting to hope again in their chances of survival. Excellent game from the talented wide midfielder Emmanuel Kone (23), who’s a natural right winger, but capped a solid performance on the left side with a deserved secod goal of the season. Kone is currently on loan from CFR Cluj and, surprisingly, CFR misses at this point a wide midfielder on the right of his quality. Surprisingly, the Ivorian’s athleticism was perfect on a pitch covered in snow, a sign that he has fully adjusted to the rather difficult playing conditions from Romania. Brasov is really struggling this year and basically lost any chance to catch a European spot, which is a pitty, thinking of the good displays from the first half of season.
- Pandurii Targu Jiu – Ceahlaul 0-0
This is the third consecutive draw for Filipovic and, although a valuable one, against another team in a difficult situation, Ceahlaul will struggle to produce the needed wins, with such a defensive attitude. The hosts showed once again their limits in attack and this was the last match with Liviu Ciobotariu on the bench, who was immediately replaced by former Pandurii coach Sorin Cartu, also known as “Sorinaccio” for his defensive style, which brought the best out of this ugly team in the past. A second good performance from keeper Razvan Stanca, who was outstanding in the previous round, away at International, producing several saves, including a penalty kick. Read more…
- After yet another disappointing display and an unexpected defeat in Galati, CFR’s coach Andrea Mandorlini left his assistants take over today’s training session. Obviously, the press speculated about a possible replacement, with president Iuliu Muresan in a short trip to France (where the out of contract Laszlo Boloni resides), but this could be just one of the Italian’s methods to turn things around, after he has failed to put together a solid team and a style of play in the three months long winter break :-).
- Following Adrian Falub’s resignation, Unirea Alba Iulia is close to signing former Steaua coach, the experienced Dumitru “Titi” Dumitriu. Indeed, this might be a good choice for an otherwise decent team to at least have a shot at avoiding the drop.
- National team coach Razvan Lucescu has challenged Florin Costea to help his team avoid relegation, in order to get more attention from him in the near future. Costea is a regular scorer in Liga I, plus Universitatea’s best, highest rated, star (etc, etc) player and most pundits cannot understand why he’s not getting regular call-ups from Lucescu jr. I’m not one of them ;-).
- Steaua’s owner Gigi Becali threatened coach Mihai Stoichita, after his desire (to drop Alexandru Tudose from the first team) was ignored in the 2-2 draw against Unirea Urziceni. Stoichita collected 2 points out of 9 this year and is yet to play the likes of Parpas and Tall, defenders bought by the club at his wish. This is definitely the last warning from Becali, but I won’t be surprised to see Stoichita sticking to his choice, knowing the huge pressure he’s been under since his arrival and that he has reached a point where he contemplates leaving the club anyway.
- With the interest from Napoli and Arsenal already confirmed by CFR’s board, press reports suggest Galatasaray Istanbul has added the Ivorian Lacina Traore on its shortlist. Apparently, Galata’s technical staff has been alerted by one of its own players, Kader Keita, who spoke highly about the promising forward, nicknamed “the new Drogba”. The news got an almost immediate reaction from Andrea Mandorlini, who fears that the player will have trouble focusing on the job at hand, as everyone saw in the derby against Steaua.
- Dinamo’s board took once again the wrong call, yet will continue to wonder why this is the club with the biggest discipline issues in Liga I. Caught by the paparazzi in a club, the Senegalese Ousmane N’Doye managed somehow to dribble his way through all the threats (huge fine, relegation to the reserve team, lost place in the first eleven) and is announced again in Dinamo’ first eleven for tonight’s game against Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt… Read more…
Three new coaches, with impressive credentials, took over this winter clubs with either important tradition (Mark Wotte – Universitatea Craiova) or important ambitions (Andrea Mandorlini – CFR Cluj, Ronny Levy – Unirea Urziceni) and they offered new credit to promising players, who had found little or no space in their teams in the past:
- Ciprian Deac - 24 years old, left winger/forward, CFR Cluj
Left footed attacking player, who made his debut in the top flight for CFR three seasons ago, in a team packed with foreign players, showing a lot of promise. Enjoyed a good spell on loan at Otelul Galati, where he was a regular starter for half a season, but once he returned to Cluj “regained”his backup/rotation status. In total, he has played 51 matches for CFR, but started only 18 matches! This year, under Italian coach Andrea Mandorlini, Deac was immediately handed a start, although in a surprising position – a right winger in a 4-3-3 system. Read more…
- Brazilian anchorman Ricardo Vilana Gomes (28) refuses to return to Romania, although his club, Unirea Urziceni, resumed training for more than two weeks now. The player claims that he wasn’t paid according to his contract, while the club is threatening with a suspension until the end of the current deal. Romanian press speculates about a possible interest from FC Timisoara, but I highly doubt it, given that the Viola outfit has already two very good defensive midfielders, Dan Alexa and Alexandru Bourceanu, and the coach often struggles to keep both of them satisfied.
- Andrea Mandorlini is reportedly interested in signing Italian attacking midfielder Roberto De Zerbi (30), who played last season for Avellino, in Serie B, scoring 5 goals in 15 appearances. In spite of several names from Italy mentioned so far as transfer targets for CFR, Mandorlini’s only signing from Serie A is Romanian forward Nicola Dica, bought from Catania, via Iraklis.
Alongside goalkeeper Nuno Claro (33), Italian coach Andrea Mandorlini has included on his black list the following players: Dario Flores (25, central defender from Urugay), Andre Filipe Leao (24, central defensive midfielder from Portugal) and Diego Ruiz (29, centre forward from Argentina – in picture). They’ve been offered on loan to Unirea Alba Iulia, but refused to go there. The presence of Ruiz (who spent the first half of season in Turkey, on loan at Kasimpasa) on the list is somehow surprising, as it comes a day after club owner Arpad Paszkany said that he’d prefer Ruiz to Yssouf Kone, as the Argentinian has been a more prolific scorer.
CFR also officially released on a free transfer experienced winger Bogdan Mara (32), who’s wanted not just by Steaua and Dinamo, but also says that he has offers from Russia and Greece.