The Departure of a Generation

It's been a while since last writing here, mainly because we, the Cronica Violeta "staff", felt that the effort is unrewarding - as much as we'd like to aid the creation of an international community around the club, it's quite clear that the club has to want it too. And while the club did not put too much effort into brand-related activities coming into 2011, all that was done on a local and national level has been negated by Poli's relegation to the second league - despite being the vice-champions of Romanian football for the second time in three years. The whole matter is iffy an speculative, as it is hard to find culprits and try to feed conspiracy theories at the same time, but fact is that the gavel has fallen and the sporting merits of the team reduced to rubble.

Unsurprisingly, many players have left Politehnica in the last month or so. Captain Alexa was first to leave, followed by the likes of Burca, Bourceanu and Nikolic. Of the players still expecting the expected, such as Goga, Sepsi, Curtean and Tames, Pantilimon was the first to sign for a new club just today. It is, by all means, the transfer that has brought most satisfaction to my heart, as a player that has been quite emblematic of the crumbling white-violet generation managed to be sold for a good sum of money to a world renowned club, the likes of Manchester City. An example for all the players who tend to mistake progress with transfers to other Romanian clubs.

Of course, few are in the position of Pantilimon, of being Romania's number 1 goalkeeper. This transfer is, however, no guarantee for future success, particularly because Pantilimon has just finished a fairly mediocre season, goalkeeping-wise, and has had a tough time making progress in his trade of choice. Hopefully, under the proper tutelage, he will manage to keep Politehnica's banner pretty high in the years to come.

Other than that, the new season starts on the 20th of August, as Poli aim for promotion, despite the club's dubious administrative issues. With a young squad, comprised of players with little first league experience, our chances will depend on whether all the remaining players of the "old guard" will leave. But there's hope yet, as the club's success at junior levels, particularly the U19s who ended up national champions, can yield a great team for the future, with proper care and just the proper amount of passion.


The Spring Season

As we reach the cusp of this year's Romanian football season, the question of who is set to win the competition is still wide open. Poli is the main reason why that is the case, as our team, despite achieving a flawless start in the first four rounds of 2011, started dropping points at home in the following matches, which brought the first and the fifth placed teams within eight points of one another. Currently, Poli lies second, one point adrift from leaders Otelul.

Here are this year's results:

Poli Timisoara - Gaz Metan Medias 3 : 1
(Goga, Zicu, Zicu)

CFR Cluj - Poli Timisoara 1 : 2
(Zicu, Ricketts)

Poli Timisoara - Universitatea Craiova 4 : 0
(Zicu, Magera, Goga, Goga)

Victoria Branesti - Poli Timisoara 0 : 2
(Zicu, Goga)

Poli Timisoara - Steaua Bucuresti 0 : 0

Poli Timisoara - Astra Ploiesti 2 : 2
(Zicu, Zagrean)

Sportul Studentesc - Poli Timisoara 2 : 3
(Zagrean, Zagrean, Goga)

Poli Timisoara - Pandurii Tg Jiu 2 : 2
(Magera, Zicu)

Rapid Bucuresti - Poli Timisoara 3 : 2
(Zicu, Alexa)

It's been a very hectic ride, as the team played no less than five matches between the 2nd and the 17th of April, with a worrying trend. After pretty convincing performances against Medias, Cluj, Craiova and Branesti, the white-violets started losing steam. The match against Steaua, which started the April rush, ended in a goalless draw, despite the away side playing a bit better and Poli being refused a penalty in the latter part of the game. The draw against Astra saw the team coming back from 0:2, after another refused penalty, but also an unconvincing performance. Goga's last gasp goal in the added minutes ensured the three points went Poli's way in the match against "bottom leaders" Sportul, as the home side squandered a few good chances to earn a win moments before. Another last minute goal, this time by Zicu, avoided the first loss of the season in the match with Pandurii, but there was nothing left to do last weekend against Rapid, as the team was inflicted it's first loss of the year, as well as it's first away loss since 2009!

Under normal conditions, any club in the position of boasting with such achievements should be leading the standings easily, but the many draws obtained by Poli leave the team only in second place. Although considered early favourites for the title, going into 2011, after the recent performances and particularly the unconvincing manner of play exhibited on the pitch, they have lost their status. Of course, this is no issue in itself, as the team is still very much involved in the title bout and has quite a few arguments supporting its cause, but it's also fairly obvious that some sort of impulse is needed to jump-start the latent fighting spirit.

Of the players who have joined the club in the winter break, only Ghionea has found a cozy spot in the first eleven. Ignatjevic has made several appearances, due to Sepsi suffering an injury, but his performances have been unconvincing, while Zagrean has proven an interesting replacement for Axente, scoring three goals in the few minutes played. The other players have played even less, with Rocha and Ricketts seeming interesting prospects. The latter even managed to score the winning goal against CFR Cluj, before suffering an injury that sidelined him until last weekend, when we found his way back on the bench.

It seems like the series of injuries and suspensions incurred by several Poli players has been a deciding factor for the poor run of late, but there is also a sense of something more complicated evolving within the team. Whether it is an underlying physical problem or a matter of remuneration, a solution needs to be found, if Poli is to stay in it with a chance until these last seven rounds have been played.


Another interview with Ricketts

Poli's official site has just posted an interview with Tosaint Ricketts, which offers insight into his personal life, and his personality as a football player. We offer you the translation below:

Who discovered your talent and who encouraged you to take on a professional career?
My brothers, who have played football themselves. I wasn't very interested in the sport in the beginning - I only played for the school team, but I had the chance to obtain an athletic college scholarship. That's when I starting considering it more seriously. Football players start at an early age, whereas I was around 13-14, and fell in love with it a bit later. Now I play professionally, but I'm still learning and I have a long way to go.

Do you dream football?
Actually, yes, several times a week. When you do the same thing all day, it sticks in your mind, so it's normal for me to dream about football. Sometimes, they are nightmares, like being in front of goal and being unable to score.

What do you do before a match? Do you have any rituals?
Not really. I like listening to some music, focus on the match ahead. I imagine myself scoring, and I think about what I have to do when go in, so that I'll be prepared.

Any lucky talismans?
Not really. Maybe my defenders, because I still wear the ones I had when I started playing. So you might call them a lucky charm.

What is your weak point?
Experience. Because I've mostly played college football, which is a very different level from playing professionally. I have only three years of professional football: 2 in Finland, one here.

What was the hardest match you've played?
The first one that pops into my mind is Poli-Mypa 3-3. That was the hardest match I've ever played, and the worst defeat.

What do you like the most about Poli?
The players. My teammates are better than the ones I've played with until now. They're simply at a higher level.

Is there anything that you'd like to change about the club?
I'd like to change the fact that we haven't won the championship until now.

The goal against CFR Cluj was your first official goal for Poli. How did you feel?
I felt good. You always feel good when you score. It was an important match, which meant a lot for me.

How sure were you that you would play?
I wasn't sure, you can't ever be sure. Anything can happen. A player can get injured in the first 5 minutes, and you have to go in immediately, or you might not play at all.

How much till you assure yourself a place in the first 11?
Hard to say. Everybody is playing well at the moment. But no matter if you make the team or not, it's important to train yourself and see what happens next.

What do you when you don't play football?
Rest and relaxation. I play video games, chat with family over the Internet... nothing special.

Tell us a little bit about your origins.
Both my parents are born in Jamaica. They moved to Canada 25 years ago, and shortly after that I was born in Edmonton, Alberta. I went to school there, and then to colleg in the USA. We're still surrounded by Jamaican culture. My parents run two Jamaican restaurants.

What person are you most closely related to?
My brother. He's very passionate about football. He played a while, but he couldn't get to a professional level because of an injury. He was always by my side. He's happy when I play well, and he wants details about everything I do. I have three older brothers and they all follow me. We have to find some place where they can watch my matches.

We've heard you're good at basketball as well!
Yeah, I've played basketball a lot when I was a kid. Nowadays, I only play when I go home, with my friends, just for fun.

Being so far from home, what do you miss the most?
Definitely my mother's cooking. The food here in Romania is good, better than the one in Finland, but I love my mother's cooking. When I go home, I eat daily at her restaurant.

A message to the fans?
Weather has gotten better, so come to the match!

Finally, please say something in Romanian.
Mulțumesc! (Translator's note: Thank you!)


Tosaint Ricketts interview

Following his selection for Canada's national team, Tosaint Ricketts has been caught in a very interesting 20 minute audio interview from Canadian Soccer News, in which he talks about team Canada, his European endeavor and his transfer to Poli. You can find it here. Enjoy!

And go Canada in the friendly against Greece!


Happy holidays!

We wish you a joyful Christmas and may the New Year be full of fulfillments!

Hopefully, Santa will bring me some time to finish the year's review, so you'll have something to read.

Dusan Uhrin's comeback

The end of the season has brought a predictable split between coach Cosmin Contra and Marian Iancu. Even though Contra's achievements were more than amazing, considering his lack of experience, Poli's higher targets need a seasoned hand. Thus, Iancu has brought back Dusan Uhrin exactly 2 years after dismissing him. While this has calmed down spirits, it remains to be seen how we stand next year in the run to catch up with the leaders, and whether the Czechs second term will at least as successful as his first.


Ricketts, ex-MyPa striker, signs with Poli

Tosaint Ricketts is a Canadian-born 23-year old striker, which our defenders know all too well after the double-leg against MyPa in the Europa League qualifiers this summer, when he scored 3 goals overall. His main skill is his terrible speed, which our defenders have already fallen prey to. He is among the fastest football players, but experts say he is more a sprinter than a footballer. What good he will bring to our team remains to be seen, as it is efficiency we are looking for. All in all, I feel it is a good transfer, even if it is not great. Speed is certainly what we lacked up front, and we were also in need of a different type of attacker next to the ones we already have.