Home > European adventures > Steaua’s terrible work at youth level will soon be exposed

Steaua’s terrible work at youth level will soon be exposed

If Steaua wins the title, Gigi Becali will have to invest in two teams for the next European campaign...

If Steaua wins the title, Gigi Becali will have to invest in two teams for the next European campaign…

Everything’s going great for the Bucharest side: spending the winter break with a 12 points advantage over FC Vaslui, the closest serious title contender, dreaming of a double against Chelsea in the Europa League – stupid mind games played with Ajax, their first and most likely last opponent to meet in Europe, this spring -, and playing around with their top players’ transfer fees, in deals with little chances to go through during the current mercato.

Thanks to a quality roster that once again forms the back-bone of Romania’s national team and a young coach, Laurentiu Reghecampf, that got almost everything right in an excellent 2012, Steaua has every right to feel confident of winning their 24th title and the ultimate goal: playing once again Champions League football. Of course, preliminary rounds await, but UEFA’s prize money seem again in reach and nothing can Gigi Becali happier.

Well, UEFA has also prepared a surprise for the 2013/2014 edition and it’s not a pleasant one for Steaua. The UEFA Youth League, a competition that will offer the 32 clubs qualified for the Champions League group stage the chance to line-up their U19 teams for a European competition, will force the red and blue outfit to think again about investing some money in their youth setup. Becali himself stopped financing properly this vital area of the club some years ago, thinking that he can afford to sign basically every promising Romanian player that might come through. He was right, as Steaua bought indeed most of the hot prospects that proved themselves at smaller clubs in the first division, and the recent transfer of 18 years old Gabriel Iancu – the first important name to come out of Gheorghe Hagi’s Academy – underlines Becali’s financial strength, at least by Romanian standards.

In fact, it’s the man’s problem if he wants to spend more on players raised by others rather than investing less money and developing talent at his own club, but now Steaua could be in a difficult spot, as the club’s image will be at stake in the UEFA Youth League too, not just the Champions League. Not to mention that this competition could also be used to advertise and sale young talent…

I’ve watched Steaua’s U19 and U17 teams recently, outplayed and outscored by arguably the best Romanian club at youth level, Hagi’s Academy. Viitorul Constanta won 7-2 at U19 level and 4-0 at U17 level at the end of September and I felt it made no sense taking notes on more than two players from the visiting team. The teams are a mess and on such short term Steaua has no other option than to sign some talented youngsters in the summer, at least for the U19 squad. In fact, we could see the club change again its’ strategy, but I recall the last massive campaign of signing youngsters. It happened some years ago and Steaua signed a dozen youth internationals in a very short time, hoping to raise them properly in the reserve team and promote them in the top flight. Not a single one made it, with some promising careers destroyed by poor work and lack of interest at that time. A sign that Becali might have the cash, but surely lacks something vital at this level: patience and know-how.

Current standings in the U19 youth league, regular season, regional competition. Steaua looks set to miss the final tournaments scheduled next spring...

Current standings in the U19 youth league, regular season, regional competition. Steaua looks set to miss the final tournaments scheduled next spring…

  1. Djol
    January 15, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Hi Radu, a couple of years ago i was really impressed with Gangiovanu who I saw play for Romania’s U21. How come he is without a team/what happened to him? Thanks, great blog 🙂

    • January 16, 2013 at 6:52 am

      Hello and thanks for the nice words! Gangioveanu was one of those talents who thought too much of themselves. Lack of work, discipline and poor advices lead to his current situation. Always linked to a new club, never settled.

  2. Henning1860
    January 16, 2013 at 7:14 am

    The U19 Youth League tournament is a stupid idea that will only put further stress on young players. These kids, still in their development physically and mentally, are already heavily loaded and drained with tough training schedules and regular matches whilst finishing school education and coping with psychological strains, like the weight of outside expectations. The kids are basically getting robbed of experiencing their youth. German clubs are vehemently opposing this CL Youth League idea. Maybe appearing with a subpar team for these idiotically meaningless and potentially dangerous (for the players development) matches will serve to highlight the tournaments redundancy and actually be the right signal to UEFA.

    • January 16, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Very interesting point of view, Henning, thanks for your input! On the other hand, let’s look at it from these other points of view:
      – being 18-19 is a critical age to either make it or break it in top football, the most interesting age for other clubs looking to recruit young players who could immediately play at senior level; with only a few of them getting the chance to make this step at their current clubs, the league could open more doors for the majority.
      – in smaller countries/poorer leagues like Romania (and most of Eastern Europe), the young players could really benefit from playing competitive matches, which they won’t be able to play in their countries/leagues.
      – combining the two above results in increased chances of breaking into senior football at a very good age. Around here, due to the reluctance of promoting young players, we still consider hot prospects even 21-22 yrs old who get to play only then their first games in the top flight.

  1. September 12, 2013 at 9:14 am

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