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Unirea Urziceni no longer exists as a club!

Yes, the mighty Unirea Urziceni. The team that progressed from third division to the Champions League (with defender Epaminonda Nicu playing at all levels!) to record the highest number of points collected in the group stage by a Romanian team has officially retired from all competitions. Basically, the team that was defeating Rangers at Ibrox with an incredible 4-1 and collected eight points in a group that also featured Seville and Vfb Stuttgart, has ceased to exist. Most likey, it will not be missed, as the team that once thrived under the strict command of former Chelsea man Dan Petrescu rarely had a sold out stadium in the 20,000 souls town of Urziceni. Unirea has every chance to be remembered, though, so here, here and here are a few pieces of mine for those willing to take one more look at the club’s good old days…

Meet "The lonely wolf", Unirea's most devoted fan, who should start looking for another club to support...

Meet the manager that pays the club’s owner salary! In Romania, the land of bad choices…

January 14, 2011 2 comments

Piturca’s arrival was perfect for the struggling Universitatea, one of the most beloved teams in Romania and a traditional rival for the Bucharest sides that had now every reason to fear again “The White and Blue Love”. Some of the most promising Romanian players were going to shine under the command of the former national team coach, who came to Craiova with a very ambitious project based on the strangest agreement you’ll ever know between a manager and a club’s owner.

Victor Piturca and Adrian Mititelu failed to work together for Universitatea's sake. Photo by gsp.ro

It was all due to Adrian Mititelu’s huge financial problems, who was struggling to keep the club running, but was hoping to cash out on a blocked deal that should have cleared, according to his expectations, around 40 million Euros. In cash! By the end of August, after a short affair with Steaua’s aggressive owner, Gigi Becali, Piturca agreed to sign a three years long deal as a manager, but he was supposed to be a lot more than that, as he had promised to loan the club (with interest!) the needed money to survive until January 2011. By that time, the owner should have paid back the borrowed money and make available 5 million Euros in the club’s account, as the current season’s budget. That should have kicked-off Piturca’s plans to rebuild the squad and prepare it for his only goal in Romania: the title challenge.

The club was a total mess! The staff was unpaid for almost an entire year. The players, for 5 to 8 months. The unpaid bills for the stadium’s and the club’s utilities were huge. Former players that had sued Universitatea could have blocked Piturca’s transfer plans, so they also required tens of thousand Euros in compensation. Each. The club’s training camp needed investment as well, with the water coming through the ceiling. Basically, it was a miracle that Universitatea was playing first division football. In fact, no, it was the fault of the always lenient authorities, who are wondering why there is so much chaos in football, no interest from solid investors and companies to step in and the current lack of international results. It was a worrying reality, not a miracle. But that’s another story…

Piturca used his money to solve most of these problems and his knowledge to improve the squad. The extremely passionate crowd immediately responded, and the manager’s nickname “Satan” was going to get a pair of white wings. Over 20.000 fans returned to “Ion Oblemenco” and there was talk about the European competitions, where Craiova had left its mark back in 1982, by reaching the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup, after taking out clubs like Fiorentina, Bordeaux and Kaiserslautern. What was going on behind the scenes remained a secret the whole time, until the beginning of this week, when everything surfaced.

Unable to come up with the money and feeling that he has no more control over his club, Adrian Mititelu asked the bodyguards to stop Piturca and his staff at the gates, as they were coming to meet the team and resume training, after the winter break. The owner had been angered by the manager’s decision to consider a deal that would have sent some of the club’s hottest prospects to CFR Cluj, as well as his lack of reaction to the iminent departure of the unpaid Bulgarian players, Iliev and Gargorov. Piturca, on the other hand, saw CFR’s offer as a chance to cash in on a few millions and realized that, since August, he had been the only one to invest money in the club, so he asked Mititelu to respect the agreement and start delivering.

The bubble burst in Romanian style and a huge televised scandal followed, with the important facts covered in hilarious comments. The bald Mititelu: “You hired bald cooks at the club!”. The bold Piturca: “Your cook was only able to make scrambled eggs. You don’t even know what prosciutto and parmesan are!”. It was a mistake from the manager, who should have sticked to other incredible facts, besides the ones presented above: the club’s owner was also hired as a General Director, so he was paid by Piturca since August with 10.000 Euros/month, according to his contract; the club’s owner used to come up after matches and take all the cash collected from the sold tickets, for personal use; all the payments made by Piturca came directly from his pocket, as Universitatea had the bank accounts frozen (by the way, do you think the Romanian authorities reacted when hearing this?).

Right now, as Mititelu should pay Piturca 5 million Euros in case of a sacking, the manager and his staff have been suspended and are under investigation for “unprofessional behaviour”, hoping that Piturca will eventually resign. The team passed today the medical exam and a new coach is expected to take over. The angered fans are gathering daily to protest against this treatment and hoping to determine Mititelu to step away. Whatever happens in Craiova won’t matter much, though. What really matters is when the rules will be applied in Romanian football – I wonder what FIFA and UEFA think of this organized chaos -  and the game will reject such characters and severely punish similar practice. It should happen more or less at the same time when the entire Romanian society will find some respect for the law and will sense that the blindfolded woman holding a balance in her hand doesn’t obey political orders anymore and treats everyone the same.

Advice for CFR Cluj: don’t expect a lot of saved shots, if you’re trying to save money!

January 10, 2011 3 comments

The unknown Amadio gets a chance to make a name for himself in Cluj and also have a picture on transfermarkt.de!

I’ve said it in the summer, when Nuno Claro was the Supercup hero: CFR needs to buy a reliable keeper. A certain Danut Coman was available on a free transfer back then, the sort of experienced goalie with a strong enough personality to step in and deliver for any Liga I club, yet the champions hoped that Stancioiu will not only keep the Portuguese goalie on his toes, but also do a good job when called upon. It should be no surprise to see that this strategy failed, with the two players simply too inconsistent to secure the goal and their mistakes have been so visible that the board has finally come to terms with this reality. Don’t think that they’ve taken the right calls, though! The capture of Mihai Minca – who, for the record, was Coman’s reserve last season – can be considered a decent signing, but also a bet. The 26 years old had a spell at Rapid a couple of years ago and failed to cope with the pressure, something that will be seriously tested in Cluj, where Minca, if he is to deliver in at least one of the next five years, should finally live up to the praise received in 2005 from a certain Walter Zenga

Right now, he’s just a third keeper who can only hope that those still ahead of him in the pecking order, Nuno Claro and Stancioiu, will be either sold or released in the near future, in order to find some playing time. The imminent signing of a certain Remo Amadio (unknown 23 years old Italian keeper, who only played in the lower leagues!) on a free transfer certainly points in that direction. One that shouldn’t please CFR’s fans, though, given the questionable quality of the selected replacements, with a poor to nonexistent background and absolutely no guarantees that they’ll end up saving some shots in the coming months, not only the club’s transfer budget from January…

One year of scoutingromania.com!

January 4, 2011 2 comments

A year ago, I was on the sidelines, having stopped the excellent project that I had the privilege to be working on for Boutique Football, and decided to offer something that nobody around here thought of: the chance to find information, opinion and insight on Romanian football for those who don’t speak Romanian. One year later, I can look back and find motivation to continue, in spite of a limited time, as I’m back working in football as a scout, which has been always THE goal. But I feel I’ve made too many friends around the world who are interested in what’s (really) going on in the fascinating (not always for the right reasons) Liga I to abandon them now…

So, thanks to some stats offered as a birthday present by wordpress.com, I can tell you that:

I wish all of you a great 2011 and invite you to return here in numbers!

Transfer analysis: FC Vaslui

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment

Adrian Porumboiu wanted to make this Vaslui’s year and went on a spending spree that should have added more quality to an already solid roster, offered to the former Real Madrid coach, Ramon Lopez Caro. A few of the signings were requested by the Spaniard and what followed went on to prove that it’s not the wisest thing to do, with Lopez Caro getting the sack after a poor start and a huge scandal. Rodolfo Bodipo was packed and sent back home immediately, David Rivas never featured again and David Campano doesn’t feel too comfortable either…

Best transfer Read more…

Round 17 – results, scorers, standings and highlights

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Unirea Urziceni – Sportul Studentesc 2-1 (Maftei 47, Semedo 72 / Balan 18)

Vital win for Octavian Grigore’s men, who came back from behind to take all the points and make it almost impossible for Sportul to avoid relegation. The goals came from two players that have big chances to leave Urziceni this month, so Unirea isn’t in a much better position either, as I expect them to struggle even to keep the current roster, so there’s no chance that it might get better after the winter mercato.

  • FC Vaslui – Pandurii Targu Jiu 3-1 (Wesley 40, Bello 45, R. Costin 50 / Voiculet 48)

Quite unlucky defeat for Pandurii, as the home team was extremely efficient and punished the guests in three consecutive plays. A lesson of pragmatism and a second consecutive fortunate win for FC Vaslui, who climbed into third place after this round and makes everyone wonder how Hizo’s men will be stopped when they’ll start to play some football and look like an organized team. They’re currently lacking some quality at the back and the coach is too keen to keep all the stars happy. Fielding them at the same time often makes Vaslui play with 5 defensive players and 5 forwards, a way to unbalance team to sustain a long run of good form & positive results. Read more…

Round 16 – results, scorers, standings and highlights

November 23, 2010 Leave a comment
  • 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…

Round 13 – results, scorers, standings and highlights

November 5, 2010 1 comment
  • FC Vaslui – Victoria Branesti 1-0 (Canu 64)

Third consecutive win under Viorel Hizo, who’s as famous not just for his good starts, but also for the way his team loses something along the way. Victoria put up a fight, as always, and it was a nice game to watch, with a good rhythm and some dangerous counters, leading to chances at both ends. Currently struggling in the relegation zone, Ilie Stan’s men will be a handful for most of the teams and that 1-7 defeat suffered in Giulesti was just an accident. I expect this 100% Romanian team to climb towards a more safer zone and all credit should go to a young coach who has done an excellent job in organizing the play so far. Read more…

This season, the Romanian Cup isn’t “the losers’ trophy” anymore!

October 29, 2010 1 comment

Not a single surprising result was recorded in midweek, when 16 teams fought for a place in the quarter finals of the Romanian Cup, a trophy ignorred in recent years especially by the Bucharest sides, although they weren’t very succesful in the league either… Still, there was some serious struggle for big clubs like Steaua, Poli Timisoara and CFR Cluj, with the single praise-worthy performance coming from Universitatea Craiova, who won on a very difficult ground, showing determination and fielding players that were enjoying their chance to play attacking football.

  • FC Brasov – Universitatea Cluj 2-1 (Chipciu 5, V. Badea 86 / Lemnaru 52)
  • Poli Timisoara – Vointa Sibiu (2nd division) 1-1, 4-3 on penalties (Goga 13 / Bunea 87) 
  • Dinamo – ALRO Slatina (2nd division) 3-1 (M. Niculae 2, Alexe 8, 30 / Barsan 38)
  • Gloria Bistrita – Unirea Urziceni 1-0 (Bruno Moraes 67)
  • CFR Cluj – FCM Targu Mures 2-0 (Bjelanovic 32, Sforzini 90)
  • Steaua – Sportul Studentesc 1-1, 3-1 on penalties (T. Balan 19 / Latovlevici 72)
  • Pandurii Targu Jiu – Universitatea Craiova 0-2 (Wobay 33, Prepelita 54)
  • Astra Ploiesti – Rapid 0-0, 0-2 aet (Frunza 93, 111)

Round 12 – results, scorers, highlights and standings

October 28, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Victoria Branesti – FC Brasov 1-1 (Olariu 63 pen / Cristescu 71)

A fifth penalty in twelve rounds (not a bad ratio, but there’s no surprise, as the refs did help this team achieve promotion!) allowed Victoria take a lead against another struggling team, but Brasov showed strength and came back to claim a very important point in what promises to be a long relegation battle. Victoria remains an interesting team, pretty well organized, while Brasov deserves credit for every positive result, given the quality of the roster availble, after the incredible exodus that took place during the summer. Read more…

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