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Sportul wins with young, Romanian players. Who would have thought this could work?

March 19, 2012 5 comments

It’s suicidal! Which, in footballing terms, means it’s the safest path to the second division. Nobody would dare to build an all-Romanian team, with the lowest average age in the first division, before the start of the season and not move a muscle in the three months long winter break spent on a place that yells at you “you’re going down, you fool!”. Sportul Studentesc are doing exactly that – and, trust me, it’s not the first time I’ve seen it! – and in 2012 has three wins out of three, the last one on the ground of the (now former) league’s leaders, Dinamo. They’ve climbed a few places in the standings and have determined a few other teams look at the relegation battle from a different perspective.

Vasile Siman running a profitable business with an unappealing "merchandise": young, unproven Romanian players.

The owner of this team is Vasile Siman, the guy you don’t want to call, if you want one of his players. He’ll slap a 1 million Euros price tag on the forehead of any 19 years old that only played a handful of first division games without blinking. Try to negotiate and he’ll leave you at the table, probably with check to cover all by yourself. So, it’s best to order something light. This strategy has allowed this owner – who rarely buys a player and covers sometimes the often unpaid wages by offering to the squad mobile phones, coats and pickles – to make a huge profit by selling for millions players like Gigel Bucur, Ionut Mazilu, Costin Lazar (all playing abroad now) or George Galamaz. He’s so difficult to discuss with that Dacian Varga could only go to play on loan at Kuban Krasnodar. Twice. Now, the winger who was a regular in a play-off side from the Russian first division is back at the struggling Romanian first division club. And not playing…

Yes, Sportul won 3 out of 3 in 2012 without two of their three stand-out players, Dacian Varga and Costin Curelea (the striker all the big Romanian clubs wanted this winter, but couldn’t afford). The third is Viorel Ferfelea, the fragile number 10 who captained the side against Dinamo, scoring twice in the first three matches of the year. Who are the others? Well, guys like Patriche, Stancu and Farmache are the most experienced in Liga I, after moving through different clubs before returning to Sportul (if I’m not mistaking, Stancu and Farmache were playing in the season when Sportul scared the shit out of the big clubs finishing fourth – a feat which caused so much upset that the club became the first ever to be denied a license for the following season, being relegated!). The others are either recruits from second or third division clubs (Lazar, who offers the assist for the 1st goal vs Dinamo and scores the 3rd, was considered too poor by Petrolul Ploiesti, the club that raised him) or products of a renown  youth setup, which offers poor training conditions, but has the satisfaction of seeing its’ best youngsters immediately offered a chance to shine for the seniors.

The best example? Razvan Popa, who’s only 16 and had started football at Steaua Bucharest, was handed a debut on Sunday. He played less than a minute, but if you ask Siman, he’s worth at least half of million. It’s a crisis, he understands that clubs cannot pay the same crazy amounts as before, but you’d better act quickly, as you don’t want this kid to score his first goal in the top flight… 😉

Today’s press

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment
  • Ronny Levy signed a contract with champions Unirea Urziceni. He will earn 20.000 EUR per month + bonuses, until June 2011. Levy inherits a strong team, which finished third in a tough Champions League group (played against Sevilla, VFB Stuttgart and Glasgow Rangers) and will continue to play in Europe this spring. Defending the title in the league is another objective still in reach, as Unirea has the same number of points (41) with CFR Cluj and Steaua. Only two players departed this winter, the wingers Dacian Varga and Tiberiu Balan, who were loaned from second division club Sportul Studentesc. Levy probably has been promised a transfer budget, although Urziceni was an expert (under Dan Petrescu and Mihai Stoica) in reviving the careers of players released or sold almost for nothing by smaller clubs.
  • Steaua seems to have reached an agreement with Bulgarian striker Hristo Yovov (32), who should get 10.000 EUR / month until the summer, a substantial bonus (100.000 EUR according to http://www.gsp.ro) in case the club wins the title and the option to extend the current deal for one more year. The problem is that, so far, nobody from Steaua contacted Levski Sofia, but coach Mihai Stoichita will try to get the green light from the club during the weekend, when he’ll travel to Bulgaria.
  • FC Timisoara will keep Pedro Manuel Taborda Moreira (31) until the end of the season, when his contract will expire. The club gave full (sometimes too much) credit to the very promising Costel Pantilimon (22) – on Arsenal’s shortlist – and also bought last summer Nemanja Supic (27), but Taborda impressed in the three appearances for the club this season (a solid display in Europa League against Dinamo Zagreb!) and, with Supic quite injury prone, will be kept as backup. Of course, the club will have to offer/promise something to a player who has every reason to look for another club right now.
  • Otelul Galati released Gjorgji Mojsov (24), a central midfielder bought last summer from Rabotnicki. Played in seven games this season, three times as a starter. Otelul also terminated the loan of Arthur Patras, who came from Timisoara and is a regular for Moldova U21. This way, the club for Galati makes room in the first eleven for the promising Razvan Ochirosii, recently transferred (and partially bought) from Steaua, as part of the Zhivko Zhelev deal.
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