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Pay more attention to nicknames! Standard Liege didn’t…

August 8, 2013 1 comment

In Romania, the former international and two times champion, while coaching Rapid and Dinamo, has a nickname difficult to accurately translate into another language, as it seems to refer to his physical appearance, while it was meant to define his character. If it was easier, clubs like Khazar Lankaran and Standard Liege would have been better prepared for Mircea Rednic’s arrival…

“Strambul” means in fact “The crooked one” and, as good as he is strictly in terms of coaching, Rednic’s hands-on approach in the club’s transfer activity leads him off-track most of the time. I hope my elegant choice of terms doesn’t go unnoticed :)

Mircea Rednic, a coach who loves to win. Money and matches, not viceversa.

Mircea Rednic, a coach who loves to win. Money and matches, not viceversa.

Let’s go back to Rednic’s first adventure abroad, in 2010, when he took over Khazar, a club ready to pay for supremacy in Azerbaijan, so on the table was a two years long deal with 800.000 euros per season for the head coach. That should have been enough, but not for Rednic, who demanded and supervised the arrival of no less than 10 players from Liga 1. Besides some handsome “bonuses” for seeing all these moves through, he won the Cup and finished second in the league, after his first season, which turned out to be also his last. Forced out of the club, he was soon followed by all the players he signed, a reaction that we are seeing now, at a smaller scale, from Standard Liege.

Rednic used to play for “Les Rouches” and looked like a handy solution to the team’s struggles, when he was appointed halfway through last season. Although offered only a temporary deal, the 51 years old got off to such a good start that during the winter break the club’s board had to give in to his demands and move for two players from Liga 1. The first (shocking) move was the signing of Adrian Cristea, an attacking midfielder considered for ages one of the biggest Romanian talents, but also a champion at wasting his gifts and throwing away his career. Ok, it was only a loan with a buying option from Petrolul, but it was still strange to see him risk his reputation and the chance of signing a long term deal with Standard for one of the laziest and least professional players from Liga 1…

The second lead to the transfer of George Tucudean, a young striker from the cash-strapped Dinamo. Although (or because?) Rednic was well-aware of his former club’s financial trouble, Standard came up with a naive offer of 800.000 euros + a 200.000 euros bonus in case the team made it into Europe. A deal that could have been done for half that money, but as an official from the Belgian club whom I’ve crossed during a scouting trip told me this was considered collateral damage. “We know who we’ve signed” were the words that convinced me that, no matter how well Rednic did, he was not there to stay.

Released at the end of last season, although he had resurected the team, winning over the dressing room and the fans, Rednic is now followed by both Cristea and Tucudean. Cristea had his loan terminated, after 8 appearances and no goals (a total of 290 minutes spent on the pitch), while Tucudean, who has a longer deal with the club, was informed that he needs to find himself a new team, as he is out of Standard’s plans. The 22 years old started just one game, played as a sub in 9, failing to find the net and getting himself sent off once. His young age and potential suddenly don’t matter? No, of course not, it’s just that Standard feels that the house needs a proper cleaning process, after Rednic’s stay, a reaction that we’ve seen before and will encounter again in the future. Because “The crooked one”, now in charge of CFR Cluj, doesn’t seem to be lacking offers from clubs with money to throw away spend.

A look at Romania’s January footballing exports

February 10, 2013 Leave a comment

Either sell high or don’t sell at all – this was Steaua’s approach during the winter mercato, which closed in the top leagues without a concrete move for the highly rated Vlad Chiriches, Cristian Tanase or Raul Rusescu. Becali’s crazy asking prices worked this time in favor of the club that will have the strongest squad in the league and the best position possible to go for the Champions League spot that can be so rewarding, from the financial point of view. CFR Cluj, instead, decided to capitalize on their recent European adventure, and again, it was a wise move. Sell as high as possible, but sell nevertheless! Rafael Bastos, Modou Sougou and Luis Alberto left, a few other regular starters probably just missed out on a move and I am sure CFR regrets not having sold Pantelis Kapetanos, who was signed on a free transfer and has reached a age that will set his market value on a downtrend.

But January was a month that saw a lot of players from Liga I move abroad and I will try to make a short overview of those moves.

Modou Sougou
Age: 28
Position: Right winger
From: CFR Cluj
To: Olympique Marseille

The OM brand and the transfer fee in region of 4 million Euros make this the deal of the month. Sougou’s excellent pace will definitely help him adjust to the new league, but I wonder if he’ll ever be a consistent performer in a demanding championship and manage the pressure of every day life in such a well supported club – the opposite of CFR, who struggled lately even to sell out their Champions League matches. At 28, he’s there to help and there will be no patience or understanding for a player that has to deliver…

maximAlexandru Maxim
Age: 22
Position: Attacking midfielder
From: Pandurii Targu Jiu
To: VfB Stuttgart

Moving to 1.Bundesliga is a great step for a player who spent a couple of years in Espanyol’s youth setup, but had to return to Romania to get over a long term injury and play senior football on a regular basis. He did it in impressive fashion – one of my favorite players in the league -, but as in other cases this move might find him unprepared. Not because of his skill, but mainly because he still looks a bit below weight and will surely need time & work to be able to compete. Even he’s given credit right away, he cannot go on for 90 minutes and I hope that – in the next few months – he won’t compromise  his chance to have a solid 2013/2014 season. Excellent in 1-v-1 duels, he can play anywhere behind the main striker, but has recently surprised by saying that he feels best in a central position, as he made a name for himself starting his runs from the wings.

Rafael Bastos
Age: 28
Position: Attacking midfielder
From: CFR Cluj
To: Al-Nasr Riad

Impressive at times, especially in this season’s Champions League run with CFR Cluj, the Brazilian went for the money and we might not hear much about him in the years to come. Not surprised he struggled to get a chance at a decent European club, he’s been an inconsistent performer in the 2 and a half years spent in Liga I after his arrival from Sporting Braga. A(nother) good deal for CFR, who cashed in over 3 million Euros for a player that came on a free transfer and helped the club do well in the league and on the European stage.

George Tucudean
Age: 21
Position: Striker
From: Dinamo
To: Standard Liege

Scoring 4 times in the second round of the current season brought Tucudean in the spotlight and the media presented him as the next big thing. In the following 16 appearances, he managed to find the net only twice more, stats that speak of a striker who is yet to mature into a reliable front man. Coming from a very wealthy family, the 1,87 powerhouse failed to convince at Dinamo, yet he gets his first break of his career with the transfer to Standard Liege. It probably wouldn’t have happened if Standard’s coach wasn’t Mircea Rednic, who thinks that he can get the big guy going. I doubt it, considering that the move to Dinamo from UTA and the chance to become a regular feature in the youth & senior national team failed to motivate him properly. I doubt that a bigger wage will do it…

cristeaAdrian Cristea
Age: 29
Position: Attacking midfielder
From: Petrolul
To: Standard Liege

Rednic swore he wouldn’t sign a player from Petrolul, the club he left to return to Belgium, yet he decided to go for one of the most talented and controversial figures in Romanian football. An authentic number 10, Cristea had everything to make it big, apart from the desire. Signed on loan with an option to secure a good wage for years of quality nightlife ;), he will probably try to show his class and certainly he was brought along by Rednic in the hope that he will deliver immediately. Might help in a couple of games, but so far never showed any awareness that his playing days are coming to an end.

Is Bonetti finally coming around or are we finally admitting he was right all along?

October 8, 2012 1 comment

Under heavy criticism since the start of the season, the Italian coach looks to have finally earned some credit and the quiet atmosphere that comes along with it. It might have been down only to Dinamo’s first winning streak of the season (the Red Dogs only managed a draw in Medias this weekend, after three consecutive wins) but behind this good run of results is a playing style that starts to define a team under construction, with a roster that combines the huge experience of Ionel Danciulescu and Catalin Munteanu and the youth spirit of George Tucudean, Cosmin Matei or Constantin Nica.

Very ugly in the beginning, refusing to play, sitting back and working only to frustrate the opposition, even if it was inferior in terms of squad quality and club size, Dinamo was heavily contested. Supported only by the board and a part of the fans, but at war with the influential agent Victor Becali and most of the journalists, Bonetti deserves credit for his consistency and the hidden work that lead to a surprising transformation of a team that now is quite difficult to play against. The more you try to hurt it, the bigger chances you’ll be the one to suffer, by the quick reaction of a tight unit able to unleash deadly counters. Lacking enough attacking flair and worried about a rather young defense which lost its pillar, Cosmin Moti, to Ludogorets this summer, Bonetti knew that he would have struggled to create a solid offensive team, so he started his work from the back. Using his first matches to put this to the test, he managed to calibrate his team in a matter of weeks, being lucky enough to get some points along the way (including a lucky last minute win against Petrolul). The climax was the impressive display against the revelation Pandurii, a team able to create – and waste – a ton of chances, but which allows you to do the same, if you can absorb this sort of pressure. And Dinamo certainly can, an ability that might see the team struggling to break weak, defensive opposition, but offer an advantage in the derbies that can decide, in the end, who deserves to be up there and who doesn’t.

Undefeated for almost a month now, Dinamo sits now in 5th place with 18 points and looks prepared to earn a European spot this season without glamorous displays, but with determination and hard work. And, comparing to the previous seasons, marked by an unrealistic, cocky approach, this time a place in the top five Romanian clubs will look like an achievement, not as a failure.

* foto from gsp.ro

Round 2 – results, scorers & highlights

August 1, 2012 Leave a comment

FC Timisoara’s new coach is Vladimir Petrovic

June 7, 2010 1 comment
  • Timisoara ended all speculation and presented the former Red Star Belgrade coach Vladimir Petrovic as Ioan Ovidiu Sabau’s successor, in spite of all the rumors that involved the ex-trainer of CFR Cluj, Maurizio Trombetta. The 54 years old will be unveiled on Wednesday, in a press conference, but he already presented some of his plans, settled during the three rounds of talks with Daniel Stanciu, Timisoara’s team manager: he’ll have around six months to adjust, know the players and implement the ideas that should lead the Viola club to bigger success than the 3rd place occupied at the end of last season, but he obviously stated that he hopes to make the team play offensive, attractive and successful football even sooner.
  • Dinamo Bucharest made an interesting signing, after the promising keeper Cristian Balgradean agreed to sign a five years long deal with teh Red Dogs. The goalie has big chances to be followed by a former colleague from UTA, George Tucudean. The U19 national team centre forward asked for a few days to think things through, as, in spite of Bratu’s loan to Lovech, the competition upfront is still very tough and he’ll probably end up playing for the reserves… Read more…
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