The image of Daum taking notes on Liga 1 players in the unglamorous stands from Voluntari or Chiajna had a wow factor in the first rounds of the new season. It said two things:
- his time to evaluate eligible players before the first official game of the qualifying campaign was extremely limited.
- the time when we knew *without even looking* who can should play in the national team was gone.
This is one of the big advantages of bringing in a foreign coach. If he’s serious and dedicated, but also aware that a change of approach and an objective reevaluation of things is needed for a team that finally played again at a final tournament thanks mainly to a more permissive format and to a weak qualifying group, he will really look at things and people. He will surely not like what he finds, but at least he’ll be operating with fresh data and ideas, leaving the past behind.
For a few days now, Romanian media reports of an attacking philosophy, presenting offensive line-ups and quoting positive, optimistic statements about how the team will play. Come match day and the brave, attacking predicted line-up features Sapunaru and Hoban in front of the back four and a 4-2-3-1 and the always out of place striker Stancu on the left wing. Hard to call that either offensive or innovative… But it’s not the official starting eleven, so surely better to wait and see.
Daum is experienced enough though to look for a result in the opening game, rather than attempt to impress with an attacking game that he had little time to implement, both tactically and mentally. Even if he plans to change Romania’s style, he needs more than just a few days and, as you can imagine, not everyone was happy to see him take over this role and a defeat against Montenegro would surely turn on the heat and the hate. Let’s not forget that key elements like Tatarusanu, Chiriches and Pintilii are also missing, but it’s good to see that the search for a new left-back has begun, now with veteran Razvan Rat is out of the picture. You can also see young, fresh faces in the squad, like Marin and Benzar from Viitorul or Dinamo’s Dorin Rotariu. I’m puzzled by the call-up received by Enache, who has been awful at right back lately and I do hope the media got it wrong about the tactical setup and selection of his first eleven, but I’m hopeful it’s only a matter of time until Daum understands who’s reliable or at least who has a chance of fitting his ideas and playing style in the future.
Trickier than in appearance, tonight’s game will be a test not for Daum’s selection and ability to quickly implement new ideas, but also for our understanding of the game, of the time needed to change an approach that has stayed with us for decades. We have praised Iordanescu for making a great counter-attacking team when he had Hagi, Sabau, Gica Popescu, Dan Petrescu or Ilie Dumitrescu at his disposal; I find it quite funny that people read so much into Daum’s words of playing a different football and expect this still mediocre national team to attack and impress with the likes of Grigore, Hoban, Achim and Chipciu…
He doesn’t want to be called “Mister”, he prefers his nickname. From the top of the league, Munti explained today, in an interview for http://www.evz.ro, what’s the secret behind Otelul’s perfect start of the season. Here are the most important quotes:
Approach: “I like to work with Romanian players, they can get my messages and ideas clearly, and this has turned things around for me, after a poor start. And this is an excellent group, considering that there were times when the players were unpaid for months, yet they kept on training and playing.”
Training: “Modern football means determination. I ask my players to work their socks off in training and, after fitness, we try to be very organized on the pitch. At a higher level, the players’ quality makes the difference, but in Liga I mentality is key. And we managed to earn this first spot even if we played three or four times with just ten men.”
Objectives: “My goal is to finish better than we did last season, when we missed a place in Europa League for just two points.”
Inspiration: “I continue to learn as a coach and I’m inspired by Magath and Daum, whom I call every once in a while to discuss things. I believe German football is a model to follow in every aspect, that’s why I brought a popular system in 1. Bundesliga 5 years ago at CFR Cluj, when everyone was shocked that I field three forwards in every game.”
After 11 rounds, Otelul is topping the league with 25 points, thanks to an excellent home record of six wins out of six games. Munti’s players also got two valuable results away from home, a 0-0 against the mighty Rapid and a 2-1 success, two rounds ago, against Dinamo.