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Romania’s number 10, Nicusor Stanciu, cannot handle the pressure. Really?

June 18, 2016 Leave a comment

“Stanciu played a good game against France. But he is young and there is an important amount of pressure he has to deal with; we tried to take that pressure off his shoulders”, said Viorel Moldovan, sent by Iordanescu to explain one of the strange decisions made after Romania’s first game at Euro 2016.

And they took it off, leaving Romania’s number 10 and one of the very few creative midfielders on the bench for the 90 minutes played against Switzerland.

stanciu

Now, just a few episodes that Romania’s coaching staff surely know, but maybe forgot, when they realised that there’s some explaining to do regarding its controversial decision:

  • Stanciu makes his debut in second division for the senior team of Unirea Alba Iulia before turning 16.
  • Plays his first Liga 1 game when he was only 17. Against Steaua. In a match surprisingly won 2-1 by Unirea.
  • Signed by FC Vaslui, captained his club and scored from the penalty spot against Inter, on Giuseppe Meazza, aged 19.
  • Signs for Steaua and earns quickly his place in the team.
  • Makes his debut in the senior national team and goes on a scoring streak – 4 goals in his first 5 games – that puts to shame every striker that played in recent years for Romania.
  • Took the no 10 shirt and played a solid game against Spain, in a recent friendly, daring to lob Casillas from over 40 meters.

Finishing off, one question for Iordanescu, who lacks courage both as a coach and as a man, sending others to defend his choices: does the must-win game against Albania, in which I expect Stanciu to play from the start, have less pressure than the match against Switzerland?

Budescu’s move to China is actually a good sign?

February 3, 2016 Leave a comment
Warningtry looking at the piece ignoring Budescu’s struggles to adapt there, integrate a hard working environment, the history of Romanian players transferred abroad and sent home after 6 months of disappointment, etc :)
Let’s put aside his playing style, his weaknesses on and off the pitch and focus on these facts:
  • he’s been scoring more than 10 goals per season in the last 4 championships;
  • he’s been the most decisive player in Liga 1 in the past 2 years;
  • he forced his way into the national team against the will of Anghel Iordanescu (who had to give in to a lot of pressure from the public and media) and has chipped in important goals already.
Constantin Budescu, Astra’s number 10 who helped a club with important debt towards its players finish last year topping the standings in Liga 1, was hot property and was destined to move away this winter. With Astra needing desperately cash to pay salaries, Budescu’s options were either Steaua or Umm Salal from Qatar. Too few, but apparently the player refused for years to work with an agent thinking that he could manage his career by himself. Not the brightest of ideas, but the guy was always better with his feet than his head…
As it often happens, of the two option he ended up picking a third, which raised more eyebrows and questions, but what really intrigues me is that it also prompted quite a few jokes over here.
budescu-astra
Yes, it’s China and it’s actually a second division club that got the player’s signature for the following three years. Yes, he moved there for the money and put in jeopardy his first and probably last chance of playing at a final tournament with the national team. But maybe, before laughing (without his millions in the bank), maybe it would be best to get off our high horses and stop thinking about China like Liga 1 is actually La Liga or 1.Bundesliga and he’s going actually to an inferior competition. And ask ourselves if it really is the end of the (footballing) world. Looking only at the moves of Jackson Martinez, Ramires and Gervinho, to name a few, should be enough to reconsider all this and also acknowledge the fact that it’s all reasonable and makes perfect sense. Would anyone had considered Budescu ready to compete in the same league with such names? Oh, and did any of those making fun and criticising his decision have watched lately any games from the Chinese leagues?!
Isn’t it quite possible that one or two years from now, when Dalian Aerbin could allow Budescu play against the above mentioned star players and when other top footballers would have moved there, to look at all this from a different perspective?

Steaua’s old faces, for a brand new league title

December 28, 2015 Leave a comment

If I’d be the owner of a Romanian club I’d choose Reghecampf as a coach. Why? Because he is the best!

Those were Laurentiu Reghecampf’s words in May 2014, when he was leaving Steaua after 2 league titles and 1 SuperCup and heading for Al-Hilal’s big money contract. A statement that surely made Becali smile happily that he had no more competition within the club in terms of bragging and speaking about himself in third person. Now, one and a half season later, fearing that he might lose the title, Becali made the call and the dozen promises and got back the 40 years old. Steaua will make it to the playoffs in Liga 1’s first season in the new format, but is now 4th in the standings, behind Astra, Viitorul and Dinamo, so the vocal owner can’t take anything for granted. He’ll have to accept Reghecampf and all his (and his wife’s) wishes.

poza

It’s not a bad move, let’s be clear. Actually, it makes perfect sense that a club owner in charge of transfers who only knows current or ex-Liga 1 players to appoint a coach whose wife is an agent and who is ready to accept such a terrible transfers policy without issues. It came as no surprise to see headlines in December announcing Steaua’s first “new” signings. Old faces on the bench, old faces on the pitch too: Pintilii, a 31 years old, who had followed Reghecampf to Al-Hilal, will leave Hapoel Tel-Aviv after 14 matches; Bourceanu, a flop at Trabzonspor, will return for a second time to Steaua.

The two formed a very successful pair in central midfield when Steaua was indeed an impressive force in Liga 1, but the spine of the team also featured Tatarusanu in goal, Chiriches and Gardos at the back, Rusescu upfront. Chipciu was in great shape, Popa was impressing as well, and not with the Christmas pictures taken in Reghecampf’s house, in Las Vegas…

Although the team is in a worse shape than two years ago, Steaua has every chance to successfully defend the title. Dinamo and Viitorul look to be lacking the strength and belief to go all the way when the big games will come in succession, while current league leaders look like a team that can be dismantled in January, with offers flowing in since word came out that Ioan Niculae, currently behind bars, wants to cash out. Maybe that’s why Reghecampf doesn’t see as a challenge getting Tade (top scorer in 2015), Alcenat or Guilherme (best right back and left back, respectively, when playing for Petrolul) back to their best and accepts Becali’s decision to get rid of them at all costs. In the end, it will only create more room for his wishes and his wife’s deals.

Unfortunately, such a chaotic approach has little chance to be punished on the pitch, as the level of the league is still too low to produce a genuine title contender for Steaua, a club that in recent times has lost his aura, abandoned by fans, forced to play not only away from their stadium, but also away from Bucharest, and none of its bad habits. Reghecampf has every chance to secure another title for the red and blue outfit and we can’t say we hadn’t been warned by the man himself: “Reghecampf is the best”.

Looking for some enthusiasm pre-Euro 2016?…

December 23, 2015 Leave a comment

Romania drew 2-2 in Bologna against a disappointing Italian side, but deserve some credit for ending the year unbeaten. The result can be just as deceiving though as the fact that Romania had the best defensive record in the qualifiers for Euro 2016 of all the teams involved.

There’s no real reason for optimism. Commenting the game for Rai, Trapattoni said, among others, that Iordanescu’s players “aren’t technically inferior to any other team” and that Romania’s “mastering the art of passing and dictating tempo”. With all due respect for the legendary coach: LOL!

On the pitch, we had the likes of Grigore, Hoban, Pintilii, who are more or less as skilful as Tatarusanu. It’s true that at the time of those two remarks Sanmartean had just came on and was showing off his classy touch and ability to toy with the game’s tempo when in possession, but six months from now the old wizard will be even closer to retirement…

Nevertheless, unlike Trap, I think Romania’s hopes before the final tournament starts should never get high enough to be able to cause disappointment once our three games at Euro 2016 will be over. Iordanescu, out of contract for a few days in November, is no longer regarded as a coach able to deliver miracles, in spite of all his faith in God. He did take the team to a final tournament after a looong wait, but look at the group, look at the performances, the players he promoted, a tactical edge or clear playing style created during his tenure! (Ok, it’s a trap, don’t waste your time searching for the last three…)

Involved with Steaua’s historical achievement in 1986, coach of the golden generation from 1994, leader of a mediocre group that finally gets tickets to a new final tournament, Iordanescu would have caused no surprise, anger or any other passionate reaction if he would have been left out of contract and replaced by another this autumn…

I’m no fan of the man and would blame Iordanescu for a few things, those unimportant things ignored by previous coaches, who also had promised to rebuild a team, promote new faces and create a playing style that suits this team. I blame him for the lack of vision and courage, I blame him for looking for results at all costs. For the lack of work done in areas left to the new faces of the Romanian football federation, who managed in one year to leave people thinking about Mircea Sandu’s regime… Bref, I simply cannot praise Iordanescu for the kind of results that his predecessors could have been able to deliver against such terrible opponents!

I keep on reading and hearing that our presence at a final tournament is a blessing. Come next summer, I doubt we’ll feel the same watching Romania play. We’ll be there, but it’s not an elite anymore, we’ll say our goodbye to the likes of Rat and Sanmartean and maybe to Iordanescu himself, and we’ll be looking around for options. The kind of options that Razvan Lucescu, Victor Piturca and Anghel Iordanescu failed to produce with their work in the past decade, all of them desperately trying to deliver a successful qualifying campaign. We finally did it, but when you have to thank UEFA for the new format of the tournament, Lady Luck for the draw and Hungary, Greece and Finland for being even weaker than us, you simply run out of praise for a coach and a generation of players that, given its mediocrity, would actually deserve some…

Can we stop Romania and Hungary from playing at EURO 2016?

October 10, 2015 4 comments

romania hungaryWhen Hungary decided settle for a 0-0 against Romania in the second half of the game in Budapest and let the hazard of future results decide their fate, I thought, ok, they don’t deserve to go through. When Romania went over 400 minutes without scoring it was just as clear that we’re just as terrible, both in terms of approach and quality. Hungary’s struggle against Faroe and Romania’s awful home game vs Finland only confirmed that both teams are at pathetic levels, unworthy of a final tournament that everyone thinks would do wonders for either of the two struggling countries.

I’m against that theory, really, because I see more value in reforming clubs and football federations, league associations and other organisms, in adjusting perspectives and lowering public expectations, adding realism and hard work focused at youth level instead. Yeah, the old good hard work…

With all due respect to Northern Ireland and especially Faroe Islands, I do agree that Group F offered some dramatic moments, according to emotional reports from the two countries still hoping to make it to France. You could watch the beautiful game suffer a slow and painful death…

Anyway, with the power invested in my by the 4-5 regular followers of this influential blog, I would like to ask UEFA to award the 2nd qualifying place from Group F to any nation that actually has a team able to play some football. For Romania or Hungary, a presence at EURO 2016 would only be a blessing in disguise.

Hungary – Romania 0-0. My thoughts on the game

September 5, 2015 Leave a comment

I’ve lost two precious hours of my life.

Categories: Uncategorized

Euro 2016 is too close to miss. Even for us?

September 3, 2015 Leave a comment

Romanian football has been in a bad shape for years, but, hey!, you can always look at the FIFA rankings and deny reality. You can also do that by looking at the standings In Group F. In truth, now it looks is easier than ever to reach the final tournament, while the opposition in this qualifying campaign also did its best (or worst?) to let us top the group and manage an extremely favourable situation.

So, it’s Hungary – Romania and a win against the neighbours will further lift some moods over here, a draw will be just fine, while a loss wouldn’t be the end of the world. I’ll leave the result to others and try to focus on what can and can’t be expected of Iordanescu’s team in Budapest.

What to expect:

  • A defensive approach

Yes, the pressure is on the home team, yes, we could do with a draw, and yes, we don’t have enough quality (and the mentality) to play an attacking game. But let’s give some credit to Iordanescu, ok? We’re talking about the guy who was keeping 7-8 men behind the ball when his players were called Popescu, Petrescu, Sabau, Dumitrescu or Hagi…

  • A poor game

With Papp and Goian at the back, Hoban (and maybe Prepelita or another “destroyer”) in front of the defence, keeping and passing the ball will be a problem. As always…

  • A lot of prayers

Iordanescu did very well and got attention and help from above: Chiriches and Torje are healthy and ready to go for the first minute. Hopefully, God won’t be busy doing other stuff or watching another game on Friday evening.

What not to expect:

  • Budescu from the start

Public pressure paid off: Liga 1’s hottest player, Budescu, finally got called up. Astra’s number 10 can also expect to feature at some point, if things go bad on the pitch, but nothing more than that. And he’d better be bloody good too, if called upon!

  • High pressing and defending

We lack the right players and approach for the job, even though Hungary’s defensive players would make every effort worthwhile.

  • Young players

There’s not a single player younger than 21 in Romania’s entire squad, so why would we expect such a thing? Especially now, when there’s so much as stake! Sorry for this last point, clearly I was running out of ideas… The U21s are playing against Bulgaria in Targu Mures and when they’ll be old enough, they’ll be good enough for the senior team too, right? Or was it the other way around?

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