Without waiting to sign a contract with Steaua, Victor Piturca took charge right after the end of another poor season. Free to do everything he wants, as verbally agreed with the club’s desperate owner, Gigi Becali, “Piti” looked like a man who had solutions to the club’s biggest problems: the poor quality of the team, the huge row with the fans, the lack of professionals within the club.
Even though Becali wasn’t able to offer him the demanded 600.000 Euros per season and negotiated for half of that sum, he did agree to one important vital clause: he’ll refuse to talk with the media for 20 hours after the end of Steaua’s matches and avoid to make comments on Steaua’s players, opponents or referees. The agreement was that if Becali would “forget” about these restrictions, he will have to pay an important, but undefined at that time, sum of money. The project went on, with Piturca signing a temporary deal as the new season’s kick-off approached, while expecting the paperwork for his three years long deal to be finished. In the 59 days spent in charge of Steaua, the last coach who qualified the national team at a major tournament did a number of impressive moves, all for the good of the club, which had brought enthusiasm among the fans and in the team:
- he convinced Emerich Jenei, the coach that lead Steaua to the European Champions Cup, in 1986, to return as president
- he cleaned Steaua’s offices of Becali’s relatives and brought professionals in key positions, with a focus on Steaua’s former players
- he changed Becali’s decisions to reduce the costs and the activity of Steaua’s youth academy, as well as the planned closing down of the club’s marketing department
- he made peace with the fans by lifting all the bans dictated by Becali and inviting them back to Ghencea, where he decided that the 2 meters high fences that surrounded the pitch should be taken apart
- he bought 14 new players for 2,4 million Euros, raising 1,3 million from the sale of only 2 players: Ovidiu Petre and Juan Toja
- he started the league in style, with two victories out of two, coming back from 0-1 in both games, for 2-1 wins. The first game at home, versus Universitatea Craiova, was played in a stadium packed with enthusiastic fans that got behind the team in spectacular (and intimidating for the visiting team) fashion
Everything seemed perfect and Steaua was considered one of the main favorites to win the league, even though it was hard to believe that this completely new team won’t pay at some point for its lack of cohesion. The suprise came right after the second win of the season, followed by Becali’s first statements regarding the team and its players. His moderate comments (like the observation that Tatarusanu, the keeper, should have come out for a cross, at Universitatea’s goal) comparing with what he was used to say in the past angered Piturca, who announced on Thursday that he will not travel with the team for the FC Brasov game, unless the agreed deal will be finally signed. The clause was there, inflexible like its creator: if Becali was to talk again about the players or the team, he agrees to lose a property outside Bucharest with an estimated market value of 6-8 million Euros. It was the condition that determined the two friends to shake hands, but only as a farewell gesture, as Piturca cleared his office and asked his staff to resign on Sunday, the day after Steaua’s draw against FC Brasov.
“I agreed to offer Piturca maximum power at the club, but not bigger than mine” Gigi Becali, Steaua’s owner, brilliant in his stupidity, as always
It was a strange deal from the beginning, one that saw Victor Piturca staying in the dark and pulling the strings at a club that was in all kinds of trouble: poor results, average squad, no money to improve it, huge conflict between the fans and the board. The disbelief surrounding his return to Ghencea was as strong as the feeling that things will not work. Not because Piturca wouldn’t have been able to put together a winning team in a very short period. Or because the man is such a control freak that he thinks the manager’s role stretches from naming the club’s president to deciding what the players should serve for dessert. Or because he’ll prove a too expensive manager – as the whole world should know, nothing’s too expensive for Becali! Piturca left for one reason only. He realized that he won’t be able to reach a goal that was more ambitious than winning the Champions League, after his second season at Steaua. And that was shutting Becali’s mouth! Impossible is nothing? Think again!