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 :)
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
The “director” is Mircea Rednic, former Liga I champion with Dinamo and Rapid. The setting is in Azerbaidjan, where Rednic tries to interrupt Neftchi Baku’s supremacy with FK Khazar Lankaran, a team he took over in July 2010, signing a two seasons long deal, with the sights set on winning the title. After 19 rounds, he’s just one point behind Neftci and fully convinced that with a slightly stronger side he could deliver even at the end of his first season in charge.
In December, he returned to Romania on an active vacation, stating his interest in over a dozen players from Liga I and entering negotiations with several teams, including his former clubs. It wasn’t enough that he had already in the team four Romanian players (Iordache – 30 years old, centre back; Arbanas – 27, utility defender; Doman – 22, attacking midfielder; Stelian Stancu – 29, right midfielder) and two other players recruited from Liga I (Romanovs – 32, goalkeeper; Parks – 29, striker), he wanted more. A lot more. Slowly, he started to work on his long shortlist, checking one target after another and, at this point, with no sign that he’s satisfied, has closed deals with Dinamo, Rapid, Pandurii and Gloria Bistrita and could return to Azerbaidjan with 6 new players from Liga I. Here they are:
- Andrei Muresan – defensive midfielder, 25, bought from Gloria Bistrita, although he was also a target for Rapid Bucharest!
- Carlos Cesinha – left winger, 30, bought from Rapid, where he looked classy at times, but had became inconsistent and prone to injuries lately.
- Carlos Cardoso – left back, 25, bought from Pandurii Targu Jiu. Was also a target for Dinamo!
- Nicolae Musat – left back, 24, loaned from Dinamo, with a buying option in the summer
- Adrian Scarlatache – right back/centre back, 24, loaned from Dinamo, with a buying option in the summer
- Georgian Paun – forward, 25, loaned from Dinamo, with a buying option in the summer
If the last four will probably be utility/reliable players, Muresan and Cesinha can be considered very good deals, with the anchorman very useful in adding steel in midfield and organizing the build-up and the Brazilian an excellent forward on his day! All the deals required an investment of around one million Euros, so, if it’s true that Rednic has another half of million available, it won’t be a surprise to see others joining the colony, having the chance not just to earn more money than in Romania, but also to win some trophies…
The Red Dogs lost another central defender for a long period of time, with Lucian Goian, who had to replace the injured Dragos Grigore, set to miss the rest of the season, after a hard contact with keeper Emanuel Dolha, during the cup match against CFR. Goian has damaged knee ligaments and coach Talnar has now two options for pairing up with Moti, in central defense: Cristian Daminuta (played only a couple of minutes for the first team) and the Czech Martin Zivny (who is yet to make his debut, playing four times for Dinamo II, in the second division). It’s a very difficult moment for the red and white outfit, coming exactly when the team was mounting a serious title challenge, after a poor first half of season. Ahead of the away game against Unirea Urziceni, scheduled on Sunday, Dinamo will surely miss Scarlatache (defender, suspended), Grigore, Goian (defenders, injured) and D. Kone (midfielder, suspended). Diabate (defender), Alexe (forward) and Marius Niculae (forward) are doubtful, but will have to make themselves available, as Niculescu and Bratu are completely out of form and useless. The good news is that top scorer Andrei Cristea is set to return from suspension, following the stupid red card received against Otelul Galati.
- Rapid – Universitatea Craiova could be the last game for Nicolae Manea as Rapid’s coach. Manea is determined to quit, unhappy that club owner George Copos made very public his search for another trainer, with Mircea Rednic and Ioan Andone asked in the past couple of weeks to take over and save the current season, by qualifying the team for Europa League. With 11 rounds to go, Rapid lies in 7th place, but is only three points away from a European spot and seven from league leaders, CFR Cluj. Read more…