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Piturca’s excuses are as poor as the national team’s latest displays

April 3, 2013 Leave a comment

Romania’s national team coach and players said they want 4 points from the double against Hungary and Holland. They got just one, snatched in the overtime of a poor game in Budapest, losing 0-4 in Amsterdam a few days later, after a similar display.

Victor Piturca’s starting eleven for the second game was shocking, with lots of changes and several high risk bets, and the team had no reaction during the second heavy defeat against the Dutch during a campaign that can still have a happy end. In 3rd place, just one point behind the play-off spot, Romania plays at home against both Hungary and Turkey, will travel to Andorra and host in the last game Estonia. Nevertheless, lots of issues must be addressed in order to make it and, apart from the players’ form, the manager’s ability to identify, admit and correct his mistakes is vital for our chances to be just two games away from a place at the Brazilian World Cup. That’s why I think we’re doomed 🙂

romania standings

Unfortunately for us, Piturca lives in a world of his own, refusing critics, entertaining suburban attacks and explaining us that his dictatorship will continue until 2016, when his current deal expires. A deal that stipulates as sporting goals qualifying Romania for the next final tournament of the European championship, a deal that excuses him from any mistakes during the current qualifying campaign, saying that he’s supposed to find the winning formula for the next one. Angry at the heavy, deserved criticism following recent display, Piturca organized a press conference to defend himself, but a lot of his statements can be twisted turned against him…

  • “During the winter, some bookies offered odds on my imminent sacking. It’s very difficult to achieve something under these circumstances.” 
  • “I don’t see the point of a question regarding my departure from the national team. You can talk about it, but I am not pressured by the results. The president of the Federation was laughing when we talked about it.

So, the pressure gets to him, but, of course, it doesn’t get to him. The fans and the media harm the national team by talking about it / betting on it, but do not harm him, who is untouchable until 2016. And laughs about it with the guy nicknamed The Godfather.

  • mutu piturca“Initially, I didn’t want to call Mutu, as I didn’t and still don’t think he’s physically able to play for both club and national team. I did create a special schedule for him, asking him to come earlier to the training camp. He came late and I told him he’s free to do whatever he wants, that he’s out of the team. The second day he arrived and was a mess for hours, begging to be forgiven. He wasn’t acting, he even cried.”

So, Mutu is not physically ready and he misses out on the special fitness schedule, staying “at a level not good enough for the national team”. Still, Mutu will be among the starters in the first game and will play 90 minutes against Hungary, on a heavy pitch, in Budapest.

  • Steaua’s Cristian Tanase was the player with the worst physical shape, according to tests made in the national team’s training camp.

Tanase was in the starting lineup against Holland, playing for 60 minutes, ahead of team-mate Alexandru Chipciu, who had scored the late equalizer in Budapest and was looking in top shape, ahead of Alexandru Maxim, who had also played in the 2nd half of the game vs Hungary and, a few days later, would have started and scored for Stuttgart, against Borussia Dortmund.

  • “In this campaign I have given up playing with three defensive midfielders, I only field two. You asked for a spectacular, offensive game, you got it. Our game has changed a bit. Against Holland, we could have defended the entire game and, with a bit of luck, get a point. But we played to win the game!”

In other words, the fans and the journalists are to blame for the defeat against Holland. Didn’t understand the “you got it!” part…

  • “This is the country we are living in: we’re quick to judge people, to offer advice, but we don’t look at ourselves first.”

Well, he’s got a point. As the national team coach, I am ashamed of the way the team is playing, but I would like to remind everyone that I am under contract for the rest of my days, so back off! 🙂

Romania’s national team still waiting for Mutu and Chivu…

August 13, 2012 Leave a comment

Outstanding on the ball, mature and fully fit, Sanmartean is the best attacking midfielder in Liga I, but not good enough for the national team?

Victor Piturca selected 23 players for the midweek friendly versus Slovenia, 9 of them coming from abroad generally with problems at their clubs that could get a helping hand from this call-up. If Lazar, Papp, Rat and Stancu are enjoying a good status, Marica is on Schalke’s black list for some time, Lobont fights for a place on the bench, not between the sticks, Torje needs to impress on loan in La Liga, while Tamas has no idea if WBA’s change of manager will also change his fortune. Add to this the level of Liga I and the lack of outstanding performers over here and it could make some sense to think about players like Adrian Mutu or the retired Cristi Chivu.

Piturca explained that he’s still waiting for the two, but the striker needs to find himself a decent team and prove that he can reach a decent level of form, while Inter’s defender should come back on some recent statements that lead everyone to believe that he’s seriously considering a return to international football. If not all the fans/journos are excited about it – a view I personally don’t share -, Piturca certainly is, explaining that the current team needs someone to look up to and finally Chivu (and not Mutu!) is considered the sort of player and personality that fits the leader’s profile.

Here’s Romania’s squad for the friendly vs Slovenia:

Goalkeepers: Lobont (AS Rome), Ciprian Tatarusanu (Steaua), Silviu Lung Jr. (Astra)
Defenders: Papp (Chievo), Luchin, Grigore (Dinamo), Chiriches, Gardos, Latovlevici (Steaua), Tamas (WBA), Gaman (Astra), Rat (Shakhtar)
Midfielders: Torje (Granada), Roman (Rapid), Bourceanu, Tanase (Steaua), Lazar (PAOK), Cocis (FC Rostov)
Forwards: Niculae (FC Vaslui), Grozav (Petrolul), Marica (Schalke), Stancu (Orduspor)

Romania’s joke of a national team

June 13, 2011 Leave a comment

I don’t think it really matters who is going to take over this team. And I’m starting to think that it won’t matter who is going to play for it, in the next few years. We’ve reached a point where the ability of the coach and the players’ skill stopped counting. They’d come handy, no doubt, but they won’t suffice. Not anymore. And we should stop looking for the Hagi that can score wonderful goals and start searching for the guys that feel the same way Gica used to feel when wearing the national team’s outfit. Or Dorinel Munteanu, currently teaching some anonymous football players from Otelul Galati that the matches and the league titles can be won through hard, honest work. Or Gica Popescu, the man who knew that he could help Romanian football only by taking the the Romanian Football Federation’s head.

They have something we need. Gica Hagi + Gica Popescu = love for the national team

Obviously, the sick body answered back at any attempt to inject some health: Hagi was destroyed as a man and a coach through the media hungry for any bad word that came out of Gigi Becali’s big mouth, Munteanu was labelled as a match fixer, after his first experiences as a coach, while Popescu was humiliated by a dirty voting system, controlled by Sandu, the man who definitely deserves his nickname: “The Godfather”.

What happened after the game versus Bosnia is hard to explain by anyone who has some common sense and can think beyond himself. After some harsh and, at times, undeserved criticism, lead by the other Becalis, Victor and “Giovani”, Razvan Lucescu slapped everyone in the face with the surprising 3-0 win and resigned, agreeing immediately to take over Rapid, making no effort to make this look like a random series of events.

Mircea Lucescu’s son had been planning this for a while, though, that’s why he called FC Brasov’s Cristian Oros for the first time to the national team. The centre-back was a 26 years old who is going to play for… Rapid next season. An accident?  Steaua’s Romeo Surdu (27) also earned a call-up and he will also switch teams this summer, going from Steaua to Lucescu’s next club. But this was nothing. The real blow was Lucescu’s refusal to go with the team he had selected and to the South American tournament he had asked for, one that included an extremely important game: Romania needed a win against Paraguay. Any other result would have relegated us to the fourth pot ahead of the draw for the qualifying groups to World Cup 2014, but nobody gave a damn. From the head of the Federation to the players that “love to play for the national team”.

Mircea Sandu, the chief, Ionut Lupescu, the executive president, Razvan Lucescu, the quitter, plus “the stars” Adrian Mutu, Cristian Sapunaru, Gabriel Tamas and Razvan Rat, who didn’t put the respect for the national team above their apetite for partying during the summer, simply refused to travel to South America! For us, Romanians, who watched in disbelief the 0-2 defeat against Paraguay, this shouldn’t be remembered as the tournament that saw Ronaldo play his last game for Brazil. It should be the marked as the moment when all those who could have brought back to life the national team decided to pull the plug.

They should all go away, as simple as that. Because as long as they’re still involved, we can be sure of one thing: we’ll always be here, at home, watching the European Championships and the World Cups on tv. The good thing we’re used to it by now, anyway…

Ianis Zicu: better late in Romania, than never in Italy

April 16, 2011 1 comment

He was meant to be the next big thing. After Hagi, obviously, and following the recent on-the-pitch footsteps of Adrian Mutu. He was not, failing badly in Italy and looking completely lost after the return from Serie A, where he was too poor to play, to Liga I, where he thought that he was way too good. Well, at 27, he’s the leading goalscorer, with 16 goals, and the man who keeps FC Timisoara in the title race. Still promising, right?

Born in Constanta, where Hagi, The King, had stepped into this world with his magical left foot, with the same ethnical roots (luckily, we don’t have only gypsies over here), Zicu was immediately spotted by the same guys that stood beside Gica in his playing career: the Becali brothers.

Zicu blew his chance to make it big, eight years ago. Never had a second one!

Ioan “Giovani” Becali had moved Adrian Mutu to Italy, back in 2000, convincing Massimo Moratti to invest heavily in a forward that was a goalscoring machine for Dinamo – the opposition was usually very kind with the Red Dogs’ forwards back then, as always! – and had enough influence to present Zicu to Inter’s owner at a very young age and with no real background.

In 2003, Ianis went to Milano, but left the impression that he was there to protect his valuable ankles, an attitude he simply failed to shake-off since then, no matter the name of his club, the importance of a game or the fans’ abuse, who, after his latest return to Dinamo, turned against the talented attacking midfielder.

Zicu looked again like a football player only at his third consecutive loan spell, in Rapid’s shirt, but Dinamo was the club he signed for in 2007, after Inter lost enough money and an incredible amount of patience. Three years of torment followed and he fell completely out of favor with Dinamo’s dismayed fans, who had every reason, at that time, to ask for a change of approach. He went asking for a move away and Timisoara (who’s a bitter rival, in the stands, but a good partner when it comes to transfers) stepped up and invested half of million euros, winning the race for his signature with Rapid.

Money very well spent by the Viola, who are now leading the standings, with eight rounds to go, and have in Zicu the player that makes the difference. With 16 goals in 21 appearances, he’s the best goalscorer in a league that was at risk to award the golden boot award to Bogdan Stancu, the striker who left to Galatasaray in the winter break. He is also responsible for Timisoara’s fantastic ability to come from behind: Dusan Uhrin’s men have done it an amazing 15 times this season and are currently undefeated, after 26 matches, with 13 wins and 13 draws in their account.

Humble and motivated, Zicu has the skill to lead Timisoara to the title.

What’s interesting and also quite hard to explain is that Zicu’s attitude on the pitch hasn’t changed. He’s the same creative player looking for the fancy touch and desperate to avoid contact, plays in the same favorite role, on the left side of the attack, with absolutely no interest to help in defense, and for a team that feels the pressure to deliver results, given the fantastic support this club has when playing at home. Not to mention that, on a personal level, he’s not doing great either, losing his beloved mother two months ago, a moment that he wants to remind after each goal scored.

Nobody, really, saw this coming. A player who was only used to whine is now showing the properties of a good wine. But maybe this is where Zicu lived up to the initial expectations: he’s the sort of footballer able to surprise you, after all…

Mu-two, Mou-tu, Mutu!

March 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Reading the papers since Mutu’s return to the national team is a rare treat. Yesterday, it was “Mutu has arrived four hours earlier than he should have done it, for an individual talk with Razvan Lucescu”. Today it’s: “Mutu has decided to sleep in the afternoon, although the players had a a few hours off!”.

Trying to anticipate a bit, tomorrow we should read that Mutu wasn’t picky at lunch and ate the entire meal, although the pasta wasn’t very good and others complained. On Thursday, he signed autographs even for the kids that didn’t want them, and during the night before the match against Bosnia, he refused to kick the shit out of a waiter who dared to bring him the check, at 5 o’clock in the morning.

I won’t go any further with this. I’m 100% sure Mutu won’t, either…

Mutu’s back, but will Romania be once again able to go forward?

March 21, 2011 3 comments

Here’s Romania’s squad for the vital game against Bosnia:

  • Goalkeepers: Pantilimon (FC Timisoara), Tatarusanu (Steaua), Lung Jr. (Universitatea Craiova)
  • Defenders: Sapunaru (FC Porto), Rapa (Otelul Galati), Tamas (WBA), Chivu (Inter), Goian (Palermo), Gardos (Steaua), Rat (Shakthar), Salageanu (Otelul Galati)
  • Midfielders: Torje (Dinamo), Ropotan (Dinamo Moscow), Florescu (Alania), Alexa (FC Timisoara), G. Muresan (CFR Cluj), Deac (Schalke 04), Cocis (Karpati Lviv)
  • Forwards: Stancu (Galatasaray), Zicu (FC Timisoara), Mutu (Fiorentina), Alexe (Dinamo), Marica (Stuttgart)

Strange choices:

Mutu's back. There's probably a party arranged somewhere in Bosnia, on Satruday evening...

Goian’s recall – scored a goal against AC Milan this weekend, the highlight of a mediocre season, in which he rarely played. Isn’t expected to be more than a reserve player – I would have gone for FC Vaslui’s Papp instead.

Calling four similar central midfielders – I was expecting to see Alexa called-up, especially after he was praised by Razvan Lucescu, who called him a “discovery and a plus” after the last friendly, when Timisoara’s captain scored a brace. For the record, the man’s 31.

CFR’s Muresan has also impressed, but in the last league game, against the bottom placed team, but it would definitely be strange to see him starting alongside Alexa. They’re exactly the same type of players. Slightly different – a bit more dynamic and with a small plus in going forward – are Florescu (who is now playing second division football in Russia!) and Ropotan, but, in any combination between these four, Romania will only be able to secure the central zone and build-up by directing the balls to the wide players. We’ll be organized, hard-working, but extremely limited when going forward.

The credit for out of form & squad players – Deac and Marica haven’t played for months, Ropotan hasn’t featured for Dinamo Moscow in 2011, Florescu went down with Alania. But, for Lucescu Jr., this principle applies just in some cases, not when there are players he likes in this situation. Then, it’s important to rely on pretty much the same group of players throughout a campaign, in order to be successful. Yeah, right!

Mutu’s return –  it could seem that Lucescu’s looking for the team’s and the nation’s best interest, by calling up Mutu and forgetting what has happened in the past. He’s not, he’s just trying to save his position. He probably won’t. So, this is just a sign of desperation, from a weak man and just an average coach. A lethal combination for our chances to catch the next final tournament…

Mutu?

January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I’d rather think of Chivu! And wish him to recover quickly and completely.

Case and post closed!

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