Dusan Uhrin Jr., ex-manager of Mlada Boleslav, had been rumored to take over the reigns at Poli since early this year. At some points it seemed more probable, at other it seemed unlikely, but in the end, despite finishing third with his team and qualifying for the UEFA Cup, Mr. Uhrin kept his promise and came to Timisoara. His most notable performances were achieved while at Mlada, a small team from the Czech Republic, which was lingering close to the relegation area when Mr. Uhrin took over. After earning a Champions League slot at the end of his first season there, Mlada's European experience peaked with ousting Marseille in last year's UEFA Cup.
Now, Mr. Uhrin is faced with a completely new challenge: to turn around a bland team studded with "star-power" in a foreign championship where backstage "acting" still plays a considerable role. While support for Poli has been waning of last, after repeated disillusionments, fans are hoping that Uhrin proves to be the first manager after Cosmin Olaroiu capable of bringing the team up in the rankings.
In this sense, a number of seven players joined Timisoara this summer transfer window: Marian Aliuta (Iraklis Salonik), Arman Karamyan (Ceahlaul Piatra Neamt), Cristian Dancia (ex-Torpedo Moscow), Dare Vrsic (MSK Zilina), Ionel Ganea (Rapid Bucharest), Stelian Stancu (Steaua Bucharest) and Alin Ratiu (Sportul Studentesc). Most of these players have to prove that they can still play top-level football, with Dare Vrsic and Ionel Ganea being the exceptions.
The team left for Hungary, early June, to work on their physical condition. At the end of tiresome week, Uhrin's Poli played their first match against Hungarian First League team FC Ujpest. The 4-1 (Torje twice, Cristea and Plesan) recorded in our favor came as little surprise, considering the low quality of football in our neighboring country, but it did bear some promise for the future.
The next destination was Austria, where the team faced three opponents of varying ability. First, MSK Zilina (champions of Slovakia), in a match which ended 2-2 (goals by Ganea and trialee Apetri); then a 0-0 against Cyprus champions, APOEL Nicosia; followed by a 6-1 thrashing of Azerbaijan champions, FC Lankran (goals by Plesan twice, Vrsic, Torje and Bucur twice). A last friendly against Metalurg Zaporoje was cancelled due to bad weather.
This Friday the squad returned to Timisoara, where they are going to continue their pre-season preparations. A match against Vojvodina Novi Sad has been arranged on the 11th of July, which will be followed by two other games against teams at this time unknown. Then, on the 22nd of July, the last pre-season friendly against AC Fiorentina, at Timisoara. Hopefully a feast worthy of a good season to come!