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Posts Tagged ‘Ioan Niculae’

Rule number 1 in Romanian football: you don’t mess with the owner!

September 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Romania’s defense held out in Athens against Greece, with Gabriel Tamas at right back, a desperate, yet effective solution. Normally, we should have seen there Alexandru Matel, the 24 years old who featured in both play-off games against Greece last November, when Romania missed out on a place at the World Cup, who went on to finish another solid season with Astra Giurgiu, winning the Romanian Cup and finishing the league in second place.

Don’t look him up in Astra’s team that managed to take out Slovan Liberec and OL on its way to the Europa League group stage! You won’t find him in the starting line-ups, not even on the bench. You can find him in exile though, training on his own, twice a day, on the pitch of Astra’s abandoned stadium from Ploiesti. He’ll be there until next summer, waiting for the last year of his contract to run out, watching international games go by at a perfect age to play and impress.

matelHe’s 24, fully fit, but after just over 100 games for Astra, still naive enough to think that Ioan Niculae, a rich guy who likes to own business and people, would have said: “well, it’s no problem if you don’t want to renew your deal, my team can still do with the best Romanian right back for another year!”. Well, the problem with most of the wealthy guys is that they rarely regard somebody else indispensable, valuable or at least worthy of respect. Other than themselves, that is…

Well, enough bad things about the owner. With all his faults, according to his version of events, he did meet the exact terms requested by Matel’s agent for a contract extension this summer. A scenario Matel didn’t feel the need to deny, which might just make it real. He prefers to pose as the victim, but it would have been a more convincing picture if he didn’t negotiate for a new deal in the first place. And Niculae, as any other rich guy out there, has the cash to surprise you. Usually, in a positive way. At times, in ways you and your agent might dislike. Because in a story that affects not only Matel, but more people and teams, there’s more than just one bad guy involved this time around…

Keep eating, Budescu!

August 6, 2013 2 comments

budescuWith 12 goals scored in 22 starts, last season has finally confirmed Constantin Budescu’s talent, easy to notice since he made his senior debut, aged only 16. But having to wait for it until he turned 23 means there is a reason why Astra Giurgiu’s number 10 still gets the stick. It happened after a 10 minutes hat-trick against Viitorul Constanta, in the first round of the new season, as the club owner Ioan Niculae shocked everybody: “Budescu could turn into a great player, but he needs to get his head right. The essence of life is not a juicy stake and it doesn’t matter if you give it all during training if you drink afterwards one liter of Coke…”

The player gave a neutral response and kept his focus, which was definitely good to see and an encouraging sign for the rest of a season that could end up with an important change in his career. Budescu added a brace last weekend, in the 5-2 away win vs Corona Brasov, and now leads Liga 1’s scoring charts with 5 goals, while impressive performances have helped his team overcome the nerves of a European debut. Astra already took out Domzale and Omonia and a 3-1 away win against AS Trencin means the tie is already over. In each of these matches, the attacking midfielder managed either a goal or an assist, having 3 goals and 2 assist after five game played in Europa League’s preliminary rounds.

Eating Going at this rate will surely result in a second call-up to Romania’s senior national team, increase the interest from abroad and decrease the level of criticism he usually has to deal with from his vocal owner. Unless the later has the effect I fear :), we might see this player gifted with a great right foot and a technical ability worthy of a bigger league, come winter time he might be quite far from the tasty, but heavy Christmas Romanian cuisine…  

Second-placed Astra sacks the coach. At least this time it wasn’t during a live tv show…

April 10, 2013 Leave a comment
Ioan Niculae (left) and Dinu Gheorghe could set a record with the number of coaches changed during one season.

Ioan Niculae (left) and Dinu Gheorghe could set a record with the number of coaches changed during one season.

Ioan Niculae, the wealthy owner of Astra Giurgiu, has struck again. After getting rid of Bogdan Stelea without elegance and professionalism, Niculae decided to cut the wings of someone who has been near the club for the last two decades, who had stepped in at a difficult time last year and had proved himself up for the job. Two defeats in a row this year counted more than the second place Astra still sits in, with a two points advantage over the former local rival from Ploiesti, Petrolul, and Valentin Sinescu must leave.

Sinescu, a veteran assistant coach, with an elegant, fancy speech, often too complicated for both players and even journalists, was earning around 2.000 euros per month after taking charge of the first team towards the end of October 2012 and was promised to stay at least until the end of the season “because he was loyal. He’s been with us for 20 years, didn’t ran away like others!”. The words came out of Niculae’s mouth not long ago, when Astra was reaching the 2nd spot, a record for the small club that still has a big chance of making into Europe. I, for one, doubt it will happen under the command of a mediocre Marin Barbu, the guy assigned Technical Director in December and now named in place of Sinescu, Astra’s fourth coach in the current campaign

Astra sacks the coach during a live tv show. And picks the new one from the guests!

August 11, 2012 6 comments

Ioan Niculae added another victim to a long list that only shows that he knows nothing about professional football.

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!

De Zerbi has postponed his arrival to CFR

February 19, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Poli Iasi – Rapid and Pandurii – Astra will be played, after both home teams have settled the financial problems that had forced the Romanian Professional League (LPF) to announce that these two teams risk of not being allowed to play in the first round.
  • Steaua‘s owner, Gigi Becali, confirmed that the club has finally reached an agreement with APOP/Kyniras from Cyprus, regarding the much negotiated transfer of Senegalese central defender Gora Tall (24). Steaua will pay 70.000 EUR for his loan until the summer and 130.000 EUR for a permanent deal.
  • Roberto De Zerbi (30) is still in Italy, although he signed a contract with CFR Cluj. Coach Andrea Mandorlini is fully aware of the midfielder’s medical problems, who is expected to continue his recovery for at least two more weeks, and will probably leave him out of the club’s most important games of the season.
  • Ceahlaul’s most important transfer, Cosmin Barcauan (31) will miss the debut match, against Steaua, as OFI refused to release his work permit, until the central defender sent an official complaint to FIFA.
  • International Curtea de Arges officially anounced the signing of George Blay (29). The right back spent three seasons in Romania, playing for Dinamo Bucharest, where he was brought by former coach Mircea Rednic, but hasn’t been able to find a team since his departure from the red and white outfit, in the summer of 2009.
  • Liviu Ganea (21) returns to Astra Ploiesti, where he had already spent the first half of season, on loan from Dinamo. It seems that the conflict between Astra’s boss Ioan Niculae and Dinamo’s board is history (the wealthy Niculae being a big fan of the Red Dogs!) and now the small club from Ploiesti can count again on two players that left a good impression in the first half of season, Ganea and the full back Eugen Craciun. Half way through the season, Ganea is Astra’s top scorer, with six goals scored in twelve games.
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