Archive for May, 2012

Paul Papp will play in Serie A. Good piece of business by Chievo!

May 31, 2012 1 comment

With Gazzetta dello Sport reporting this morning that Pavol Farkas, a 27 years old Slovakian centre-back from FC Vaslui, was passing a medical in Verona and was about to sign for Chievo as a free agent, more interesting news than an under-rated player from Liga I moving for zero Euros to a Serie A club arrived in the afternoon.

Papp has quality, experience and potential – the right combo for a move abroad and a good impact in his first season. Even in the demanding Serie A.

Paul Papp, the young Romanian international who started at right-back for the national team in the recent friendly win versus Switzerland, will also play for Chievo next season. With the transfer details still kept secret, this definitely looks like a wise move by the “gialloblu”, who add a quality defender to their roster and have a very good chance to make a nice profit within the next two years.

23 years old in November, Papp recently broke into the national team, collecting 8 caps, and has featured in 74 Liga I matches, scoring 6 goals. He also played 2 games in the Champions League preliminary rounds and 4 other matches in the Europa League group stage.

Strong and athletic, good both in the air and on the ground and gifted with enough technique to be considered a decent solution at right back at NT level, Papp is a central defender that has all the qualities to impress in Italy. It would be best if he could play regularly in the middle, although the Italians do like to use strong players on wide positions, but either way the player’s chances to keep on featuring on a regular basis for Romania’s NT will receive a significant boost. And, in the end, this could only pay back Chievo, who took advantage of Lazio’s indecision and moved at the right time to get a defender with a lot of potential, who could make another step forward in the near future.

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  • The Champions League’s prize money doing more harm than good to Romanian clubs

    You’ve all heard what happened to Unirea Urziceni. The 17 million Euros received from the club’s surprising appearance & results in the Champions League’s group stage couldn’t prevent the club from being dissolved a year later. What happened with the money? The kind of money that could have offered Unirea the budget of a contender for a place in Europe for at least three more years without another cent being invested from another source, yet the club ceased to exist shortly after cashing in on UEFA’s prize money…

    How come the Romanian law representatives had to sell the goods found at the stadium, like the scoreboard or the team’s massage table, once the club went into administration for failing to pay its debt towards the state money? Ok, I know how things work over here and that the state acts stupid when there’s a political interest at stake, but, really, isn’t this something UEFA should be worried about? Where does the money go? Because in Unirea’s case, it didn’t look like they’ve ever entered the club’s account – the first place the authorities block and withdraw the sums one owes to the state budget.

    Otelul’s players – outplayed in Europe, unpaid in Romania.

    Another, fresher, example: Otelul Galati. Made it into the group stage of the CL, after winning the title, and collected way over 10 million Euros for being sparring-partner for the likes of Benfica, Basel and Manchester United. The millions kept on coming, but throughout this season the club failed to pay the players on time (with the average yearly wage of maybe 60-70.000 Euros / player). They went on vacation with delayed payments for the last two months, although according to Marius Stan, the club’s long serving president, the club has the money to cover a lot more than that. “We have millions in our account, but the board of administration has blocked it. They await a few more millions, as UEFA will soon complete the transfer of the CL prize money. The board is looking for a way to take part of it and they want me out of their way”, cries Stan in today’s press, which speculates that he’s been already sacked in a meeting that took place this morning…

    The good thing is that, in this case, UEFA sent the cash to the right account. The bad thing is that the money isn’t used in footballing purposes. Like paying the guys that got you in the Champions League, developing the club or at least – like in Unirea’s case – keeping it alive…

    Sven-Goran Eriksson denies any interest in taking over Petrolul Ploiesti

    May 24, 2012 3 comments

    Eriksson’s name getting used in Romania for business and political reasons. Photo from Daily Mail.

    Let me give you the facts straight away. Two days ago, the following story “leaked” from Petrolul’s offices: “A foreign investment fund ran, among others, by Sven-Goran Eriksson, is interested in taking over the club”. A day later, when it was all still in the dark, the manager Valeriu Rachita, who had already announced his intention to leave this summer, looked for a stronger effect and came out himself with the story on national television. Then, local media presented a written (and already registered with the Local Council of Ploiesti) letter of intent, signed by a certain Nicola Imputato, speaking on behalf of Seamed, an investment bank with offices in London and Auckland. Of course, Eriksson was the name that was going to get everyone’s attention, the most important piece of the puzzle!

    All this has been all over the news in the past two days and who could have missed it? Nobody, really! Unfortunately, though, you get the same answer if you browse through the media channels – both local and national – to find out if someone really checks such a story before selling it to the fans. Nobody…

    Thanks to Jamie Jackson and David Hills, from The Guardian, who were kind enough to give me a hand, the story reached the coach, who firmly denied any involvement. So, why was the Swede’s name involved in this story in the first place? For business or political interest? My guess is for both 🙂

    It’s possible that the Italian guy who sent the letter wanted to get the attention of the authorities – although the club that survived in recent years only thanks to public funds now belongs to a businessman – and Eriksson’s famous enough for his recent interest in all sorts of deals, as long as the right amount of money is at stake. It’s also possible that, with the current mayor of Ploiesti, Andrei Volosevici, involved in a desperate campaign to get himself re-elected wasn’t surprised at all by the arrival of this attractive proposal for the future of the club. He will want every vote and football fans would love the idea of challenging for the title one season after barely avoiding relegation. And, with the vote scheduled on the 10th of June, this kind of story does come up at the right time, doesn’t it?

    Romanian readers can follow up on the story here and here.

    Reghecampf appointed Steaua’s new coach to deal with Becali’s old habits

    Becali’s happy, but not for long…

    After an impressive second half of the season with Concordia Chiajna, who managed to escape relegation under Reghecampf’s command, the young coach got the chance he was craving for: was offered the chance to take over the club he used to play for before moving to 1.Bundesliga and he took it with both hands. A one season long deal was signed a couple of days ago and he was already asked by Becali to lead the standings by 15 points halfway through the next season. A joke, of course, but one that Reghe should take very seriously…

    Reghecampf follows Mihai Stoichita, his former coach, who stepped down as initially agreed, with Europa League football on the cards in the following campaign, after Steaua finished the league in third place, missing out both on the title and on the second placed that offered a ticket for the Champions League’s preliminary rounds.

    It sounds quite bad, but actually Reghecampf steps in at a good moment. After recent investment, which brought the likes of Chiriches, Parvulescu and Chipciu to Ghencea – some of the brightest new & proven faces in Liga I -, Steaua has a big squad with plenty of quality players to choose from. The team needs mainly to find the right balance + to solve some problems at right back, in central midfield (where there’s a need for a creative player) and in goal, where Ciprian Tatarusanu either needs some serious competition or even a replacement, after an unconvincing campaign, not only in terms of performances, but mainly in terms of focus and determination.

    Of course, the biggest problem isn’t related to the quality of the team available, but the constant interference of the vocal owner, who continues to undermine his investment, year after year. Making a wedding after a convincing win and a funeral after each defeat has seriously affected Steaua’s results in recent years and will probably have the same effect in the following season. It’s enough to have a look at Reghecampf’s record as a coach and see that so far he never stayed put in one place and completing a season with one team is a challenge for him even in a more quite environment. Add to that the huge pressure of the fans and owner and it’s very difficult to see the young coach staying in charge for the entire duration of his otherwise very short deal…

    CFR wins the league after a crazy win versus local rivals from Universitatea

    May 20, 2012 3 comments

    A mad title race came to an end on Friday evening, when CFR Cluj had to replay the game versus Universitatea. With Steaua and FC Vaslui hoping to get this one wrong and leave it all for the final round, CFR felt that everything will fall apart as the home team managed to get a two goal advantage, before things turned – once again – in their favor.

    Some will say it’s no coincidence that a referee’s call made it possible, with Adrian Cristea booked for a second time and sent off after a too aggressive way of protecting the ball, but let’s make it clear: in Liga I, nobody should point the finger and accuse an opponent of trying to influence the outcome of a game in their favor. They are all trying in some way and at their level of influence, pushing the referees, asking and looking for all sorts of favors, trying to get the other team’s footballers to either play with less determination or ready to die on the pitch. So, especially those from Steaua, Vaslui, Dinamo and even Rapid who are now accusing CFR of getting their dirty hands on the third title in the club’s history should keep quiet and accept they’ve lost a battle in which they used pretty much the same weapons.

    I’m not saying it’s nice or good for Romanian football and I’m hoping to see the day when at least some of the guys involved in what happens behind the scenes will pay. It won’t come soon, not with Mircea Sandu running the Federation and Dumitru Dragomir pulling the strings in the so-called Professional Football League – read the article written by the excellent Jonathan Wilson  for The Guardian -, but as we say over here hope dies last.

    So, congrats to CFR Cluj for their win and let’s hope that everyone, and especially the new champions, will focus a lot more on football and their own teams. They looked mediocre for most of the season and massive changes need to take place if they want to compete in Europe in autumn. FC Vaslui did great, considering their transfer ban, but their stars are one year older and the added frustration could lead to the departure of some of the finest attacking players Liga I has seen at least in recent times. Steaua, Dinamo and Rapid once again pushed the self-destruction button and continue to look as expensive toys of spoiled kids, who deserve to suffer bitter defeats. They won’t learn from them, but they surely look good dejected, after making a mockery of their teams, coaches, players and fans throughout the season…

    Steaua wins against Dinamo. Great result for the fans, but will it matter in the title race?

    Bulgarian centre-back Valentin Iliev, who is running out of contract with Steaua and has been linked with a return to CSKA Sofia in the summer, is the hero of this much anticipated derby, which filled the stands of the impressive National Arena. The 31 years old scored a brace that was enough to seal the win, after Rusescu’s penalty had cancelled the opening goal scored by Alexandru Curtean, after a nice move by Marius Alexe. With Vlad Chiriches again impressive at the back and Cristi Tanase posing a threat with his runs, Steaua ended the game with 22 shots and had almost twice as many clear cut chances to score.

    Dinamo paid in the end for a very poor game from central defender Dragos Grigore, while upfront Marius Niculae looked to be struggling physically and lost his breath, feet and ideas on several occasions, and Dario Bonetti, the coach, didn’t miss another chance to have a shot at his players after the match, an approach that won’t help him stay too long at the red and white outfit.

    After this huge win for Steaua’s fans (and terrible defeat for Dinamo’s 🙂 ), there are only two points that separates them and FC Vaslui from the first spot, but unfortunately for both teams it’s all in the hands of league leaders CFR Cluj. Betting on the outcome of the title race remains very tricky and all eyes will be on tonight’s Cluj derby, hosted by Universitatea. After the interrupted match on the 8th of May, the decision was to replay the game from the first minute. Strange call, with no logic, as far as I’m concerned, as the incidents took place when CFR was leading 1-0 and the fights started because of Cadu’s goal celebration, but now both Steaua and Vaslui will hope for a favorable outcome, considering the fact that the title race ends in defeat for them in case CFR manages to get all the three points…

    Derby of Cluj ends in violence after 30 minutes!

    May 8, 2012 2 comments

    Vital game for CFR Cluj tonight, with four rounds to go in the Romanian top flight, as Universitatea, the local arch-rivals await. Fans of the Red Caps burn CFR’s flags on their way to the brand new Cluj Arena, but the goalkeeper of the home team, Mircea Bornescu, will do something worse only 30 minutes after the first whistle. Bornescu lost it and went after CFR’s captain Cadu , who converted a penalty and went behind the goal for a wild celebration. The kick started a fight that forced the ref to send off both players and stop the game for 15 minutes, but Cadu was once again attacked on his way to the dressing room and CFR’s coach Ioan Andone refused to let the players come back on the pitch, asking for the game to be stopped, as he considered the environment too dangerous…

    Bornescu’s crazy act will do CFR a great favor and will add to a rivalry that didn’t need another sparkle. Not to mention the controversy added to another title that is now only three steps away from Arpad Paszkany’s club.

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