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…
Well, you could click here and see for yourselves, but, if you’re in a hurry, you could also take my following words for it: “Liability: Vytautas Cerniauskas – if he plays right away. The young goalie has just arrived, but, given the conflict between the club and first choice keeper Dusan Kuciak, he might get soon the chance to prove himself and I doubt that a second Arlauskis could arrive to Liga I so soon and make a similar impact. If I’d be in Caro’s place I would trust Haisan, who stepped in well even last season and should offer time and guidance to Cerniauskas, as well.”
Ok, enough bragging, I certainly don’t like it, but I’ve read that sometimes it does help. The fact is that FC Vaslui has just one point after two rounds (the 2-0 defeat against Rapid was followed by a 1-1 that’s a lot more difficult to digest, given the fact that Lopez Caro’s men were playing at home and against FCM Targu Mures, a newly promoted team) and Vytautas Cerniauskas has to take a part of the blame. Sorry, two parts, as he was at fault both for Rapid‘s and FCM‘s openers, making it very difficult for his team to come back in the game.
The Lithuanian U21 goalie may be promising, but so far I’ve seen, besides a justified fear to leave the goal-line, a worrying lack of agility. Size does matter, but it’s never enough! And Caro already started to look for solutions, the first press reports linking FC Vaslui with Steaua’s out of favor keeper, Robinson Zapata, while today there were stories referring to Kuciak’s possible return to the first team. Nothing about Vaslui’s chances to get back the five points lost in the first two rounds, though…
Last season’s third place only motivated the wealthy Adrian Porumboiu to continue his solid investment in a small club, but who definitely looks on its way to success. Vaslui matched the champions from CFR in terms of quality buys from abroad, having in Wesley da Silva, Gladstone, Costly or Kuciak top players by Liga I standards, but the team guided by Marius Lacatus lost pace and energy exactly when they needed a final, convincing sprint. If Lacatus wouldn’t have decided to move to Spain, I’m sure he would have been replaced anyway, knowing Porumboiu’s determination to prove not just his financial strength, but also that, as a former international ref, he’s got more footballing culture than any other club owner.
Players in: David Rivas (central defender, 31, Betis Seville), Vytautas Cerniauskas (goalkeeper, 21, Ekranas), Alejandro Campano (midfielder, 32, Gimnastic), Rodolfo Bodipo (striker, 32, Deportivo La Coruna – loan), Daniel Pancu (central attacking midfielder, 33, CSKA Sofia), Silviu Balace (left back, 32, Universitatea Craiova – returns from loan)
Players out: Roberto Alfonso Delgado (right midfielder, 24, Universitatea Cluj)
Interesting campaign, based on players demanded and convinced by the newly appointed coach, Lopez Caro, who should add experience and professionalism to a team that managed to keep all the important names from the previous campaign. The imports from Spain have been a rare treat in Liga I, while Pancu’s return to Romania, very close to his birthplace, Iasi, could exploit the last top performances from a quality attacking player indeed, who could have made it big in European football, with a bit more luck. What’s a bit surprising is the fact that Vaslui paid just one transfer fee this summer, 300.000 Euros for the promising Lithuanian keeper Cerniasukas, but has probably the largest wage bill in the league.
- Coach: Lopez Caro (new)
- Preferred system: 4-2-3-1
- Ideal first eleven: Cerniauskas – Milanov, Rivas, Farkas, Hugo Luz – Gladstone, Pancu – Sanmartean, Wesley, Milisavijevic – Bodipo
- Realiable subs: Kuciak (goalkeeper), Zubar (central defender), Ghencev (central midfielder), Pavlovic (central midfielder), Costly (striker), Temwanjera (striker)
- Key player: Wesley. Quality attacking option, able to create and finish and play at a high level on a number of positions and roles. One of the top three forwards in the league, can decide matches on his own, but often plays for the team, showing very good understanding with Sanmartean last season, looking excited to have the chance to play alongside other quality footballers. With their number increased after this summer’s campaign, we can expect even greater things from the Brazilian.
- Underrated player: Nemanja Milisavijevic. The left footed winger has outstanding pace, good dribbling skills and can torment his direct opponent, but unfortunately for him, last season, he rarely played at his full potential. Fully fit, he could have a very good year, but it’s hard to say who is going to be the top player this time around, with so many quality players in midfield and attack.
- Liability: Vytautas Cerniauskas – if he plays right away. The young goalie has just arrived, but, given the conflict between the club and first choice keeper Dusan Kuciak, he might get soon the chance to prove himself and I doubt that a second Arlauskis could arrive to Liga I so soon and make a similar impact. If I’d be in Caro’s place I would trust Haisan, who stepped in well even last season and should offer time and guidance to Cerniauskas, as well.
What to expect:
A very strong team, with an interesting coach and technical staff and solid finances, FC Vaslui is a serious threat and everyone’s aware of that. The club’s problems could come from Lopez Caro’s lack of knowledge about Romanian football – which could prove mindblowing, at times, through all sorts of episodes – and the unsolved conflicts for long periods, similar to the two that currently invlove Costly and Kuciak (two of the club’s best players). The fact is, though, that the team has so many potential match winners that I cannot see FC Vaslui losing points against the smaller clubs, who will defend at all costs and through any means available, and should offer very entertaining derbies.
After the loan of Rodolfo Bodipo, from Deportivo La Coruna, FC Vaslui signs for one season (with the option to extend the deal for one more year) the former captain of Betis Seville, David Rivas. The 31 years old comes on a free transfer and says that he came to Romania to win the title and play Champions League football, adding more quality and experience to an already solid roster, trained by the former Real Madrid coach Lopez Caro.
According to the club’s owner, Rivas was signed only to please the coach and his arrival should determine the sale or loan of one of the others central defenders in the squad. My bet is that either the very promising Paul Papp will be allowed to move on loan, in order to keep playing on a regular basis, although he comes after a solid half of season with the team, or the experienced Gabriel Canu will be allowed to leave at a decent price. All the other centre-backs have the advantage of being versatile enough to cover at least one other role (Gladstone – central defensive midfielder, Zubar – right back, Farkas – left back) and it’s probably too late for them to be offered to clubs from abroad.
FC Vaslui added an important name to a strong team already, which looks like a very serious title contender. The former Deportivo La Coruna striker, Rodolfo Bodipo, signed for two years, after his agent, Javier Gonzalez, failed to find a good deal in Portugal. Bodipo will strengthen an attack that already has quality players like Costly, Wesley and Pancu and is the first signing after the arrival of coach Lopez Caro, who has every chance to help this ambitious little club continue its impressive development and maybe even land a trophy, at the end of next season.
Of all the top clubs, only two will attack the next season with the same coach. Mandorlini‘s double with CFR Cluj and Levy‘s abilty to continue Dan Petrescu’s outstading work for Unirea Urziceni offered them the chance to stay put and enjoy the results of the previous campaign.
In a previous post, I had anticipated an agitated summer in this field, but my expectations were exceeded by the decision of two coaches that could have stayed: Sabau (FC Timisoara) and Lacatus (FC Vaslui), both leaving their clubs for personal reasons; Sabau - for his inability to connect with Timisoara’s football-loving fans, Lacatus - following the disappointing ending of a solid season.
With so many ambitious clubs looking for good coaches, it’s been more interesting looking for the moves in this area, rather than “buying” the rumors sold on a daily basis by the sporting newspapers regarding the players that might come to Romania this summer. Dinamo went for their old player and coach (although he’s still quite young), Ioan Andone, who was replaced at Rapid by the former Gloria Bistrita manager, Marius Sumudica. Sumudica, an icon in Giulesti, will get a lot of help by Rapid’s new and old president, Dinu Gheorghe. With Steaua still pushing for a deal with Victor Piturca, who, for the past two or three weeks, has arranged transfers and even decided who will be the club’s president!, FC Vaslui was the club that managed to go for something new and very exciting indeed: a staff lead by Lopez Caro, who had the chance to work with the likes of Guti and Zidane and now will try to teach Burdujan that football is a team’s sport and that it’s okay to pass the ball every once in a while, even if the game is indeed decided by goals.
If the move becomes official today, as announced, Vaslui’s owner, Adrian Porumboiu, shows once again that he cares about his investment in football and that he knows very well what he has to do in order to continue the impressive development of his club. He keeps going forward, while “the big guns” from Bucharest are chasing their tales, looking back at their last moments of triumph and hiring the guys that managed to deliver…