Ganea Ban: 22 Matches

Justice has claimed its toll, hurray! Let us all rejoice, for we live in a world of fairness and morality, where everyone gets his just punishment. While I agree with the decision of the committee, I can only hope that when players from Bucharest teams assault other players or referees in the future, the law will be applied with the same level of conviction and determination. The leniency shown by the same committee to players contracted by Steaua, Dinamo or Rapid is and has consistently been the only reason why Ganea should have received a milder punishment that that imposed by the sporting laws of this country.

On another note, Slovenian striker Dejan Rusic from Publikum Celje is close to singing a five year deal with Poli. The 24 year old was brought in to replace Ganea and while his past achievements do not recommend him as a fantastic addition to the squad (16 goals in 52 matches for Publikum), he might just be the strong striker we need in attack, next to Bucur. Also it is rumored that a midfielder from Artmedia Bratislava might join the squad in the immediate future, but this transfer has not be confirmed.


A Word on Ionel Ganea

Sunday's highlight must have been Ganea's strangling of linesman Mudura, as a picture taken by a Gazeta Sporturilor photographer appeared in both The Sun and Bild (of course, such an image could only provide shock value). It's not up to me to post it around here as well, so if in an act of dire curiosity you feel that it is an essential viewing, then be my guests and look for it around this little old place called the world wide web. The same thing goes for the act itself.

Needless to say, Ganea's outburst is inexcusable and Mr. Marian Iancu's defense of the player is only one more piece of evidence for the shabby moral standards people in charge impose on our footballing world. There's just too much utter rubbish being debated about referees and their lack of experience, lack of integrity, lack of grey matter, lack of, lack of...that you just can't give a rat's ass any more about these things. You simply reach a point where all you want to see is football and all you want to hear are the fans' chants ringing in your ears.

It seems that Ganea will have to face a ban ranging somewhere between 16 and 24 matches, which to my mind is simply just for his atrocious act. Ultimately, the problem isn't that he had a moment of pure rage; it's that this isn't the first time it happens. When during 70 minutes you barely get to touch the ball, you're bound to feel frustrated and if you add to this the fact that a nudge within the usual footballing limits (which Ganea claims it was) leads to a second yellow card, ugly things can happen. It's all within reason and people judge it as something sinister because it happens on TV and it's not Reality TV, it's the real thing, as unscripted as it gets. Only a fool could believe that a long ban on Ganea would make players think twice before attacking refs, because it's obvious that thinking had little to do with the act in question. You'll have people saying "Kick them out of the game!" and they have their right to do so. Ganea won't mature, he won't become a less physical player, he won't change his attitude towards football.

Unfortunately for him, Ganea is at an age where a ban of more than 16 matches isn't just something he'll shake off. It is, to some degree, a career ending sentence (not to mention what a 24 match ban would mean). Whether he deserves it or not (being judged like the devil, not the ban – it’s obvious he deserves the latter), I can’t truly judge, as part of it comes down to whether Sapunaru just faked a hit or not (anything subsequent to an affirmative of this possible version is human, as far as I’m concerned).

In the end though, I am left with just one thought as to how people have judged and will continue to judge such actions: the replay has been on TV a gazillion times since the event, despite everyone saying how terrible it is and how people shouldn't want to see it. And yet it's there, being shoved in your face, over and over again. Come on, let's be frank here, it's a great day for the 21st century that we got images as nice and as exciting as these on film from good angles - and it's all very authentic! We are all cavemen, are we not? Who's going to punish the hypocrisy of repeatedly showing the images? Well, nobody, because we're at the other end of the screen, where no one can see what's happening.

Poli - Rapid 1:1 (1:1)

I reckon a short report on Sunday's match is in place at this time, despite the huge debacle about Ganea's brutish act. So I'll leave that for another post and focus on the more pressing matters of football.

What should have been a grand match between two teams of similar ability turned out disappointing. While each team had its chances (with Poli's in the first half and Rapid's in the second), our white and purple boys will probably be quite content with the end result. Bucur's goal in the 17th minute came after a first quarter of an hour which I'd label as unimpressive, but Karamyan's free-kick and Abiodun's good cross, as well as the horrendous placement of the Rapid defense, proved enough to make things more exciting. However, neither team managed any other real scoring chance until the 40th minute, when Karamyan's curled cross hit the post of Coman's goal. Then, exactly when it really, really shouldn't happen, Rapid equalized in extra time, thanks mainly to Dancia's sloppy marking of Burdujan, who only needed to slot the ball in.

Half-time worked no miracles - or at least none for Poli. Rapid played with far more determination and the chances of Sapunaru and Burdujan came as a logical consequence early in the second half (how Burdujan managed to miss is beyond me, but thanks and many happy returns!). On the other hand, Vrsic's lone shot came close to Coman's goal, but it was far too little to actually pose a threat to the score line. Then, in the 70th minute, Ganea went berserk and had his way with the linesman after the latter signaled a foul which lead to our striker's sending off. What followed after this unfortunate event resembled the the idea of top-league football even less than the previous 70 minutes had, with a tense atmosphere hanging over the match. Rapid had one more chance to make the match theirs, but Popa parried well a Maftei free-kick and the final whistle rounded off a disturbing evening.

Problems seem to be gathering like flies at a lump of crap for us, as Ganea's suspension (which can reach up to 24 games) leaves Poli shooting blanks in front of goal. Then you've got Dancia's repeated errors which have cost us dearly (at least three goals conceded should be billed on his account) and the lack of any obvious substitute. Youngster Latovlevici should be an option, but the fact is that he is inexperienced and a bit back on the pre-season practice period, which he missed due to a conflict with the club management. And perhaps the biggest problem of all resides in our inability to win the battle in midfield, as Poli's game only seem to be working on the wings. Whether Mr. Uhrin has any idea of how to solve these issues and bring the team back to winning ways, I can only hope it is so.

Karamyan, Abiodun and Vrsic were the three foreign players who played against Rapid, with the first outshining most of his team-mates. Such determination and devotion I have rarely seen in players.
The Nigerian winger played a decent game, providing a worthy assist, but did little to help in defense when some help would have been quite welcome.
Vrsic came on for the lackluster Aliuta, but this event happened to take place just before Ganea's red card. Therefore, there was little left for Vrsic to do except help out at the back. He sent two long ranged free-kicks towards goal and while his efforts were decent, they were inefficient.


Unirea Urziceni - Poli 4:1 (1:0)

The game of football sure as hell ain't easy. But when you misread the game as badly as Poli did on Friday, nasty things are bound to happen. The defeat against Unirea should stand as a lesson for all those involved, the lesson being that you just can't win in this sport if you sell your best players and gather freebies to fill the positions left vacant in the starting eleven. Also, you can't win if you don't believe in yourself, which one might say is rather obvious, but it's just as obvious that most of the Poli players who went on the pitch yesterday were not aware of this minute fact.

The match started badly, as promising striker Bogdan Stancu opened the score in the fifth minute, profiting off a contemplative Dancia. Poli seemed capable of taking control of the game in the first quarter of an hour, but it was ultimately Unirea who got close on two more occasions before half-time. Ganea's absence was obviously weighing the team down.Whatever Mr. Uhrin told the players at half-time, it didn't help, as Stancu scored once more, while most of the defense was - as far as I can tell - admiring him from afar. As the minutes passed, things weren't getting better and they took a definite turn for the worst, when John Srhoj (who had replaced injured McKain in the first half) was sent off for a second bookable offence. Mr. Uhrin went on to field Torje and Mansour, who did bring something of an impulse to a severely comatose offensive line. After Cristea sent the first shot on goal in the 82nd minute, Unirea took advantage of the gaps in defense and scored on a counter-attack through Paduretu, repeating the feat a few minutes later - this time, Onofras gracing us with his goal. Poli got a penalty in the last minute of play, which was missed twice by Bucur. Luckily for us, one of Unirea's players, overwhelmed by joy, decided to touch the ball which was in the keepers hands, thereby committing what is technically known as a "handball" – Alexa converting the second penalty.

Yeah, lucky us.

Of the foreign players, nobody really popped anyone's cherry today. Abiodun was a disaster, wasting possession all the time, Vrsic only got half-way going in the second half, Srhoj...well, yeah, Srhoj, Mansour struggled well, but with little efficiency and even Karamyan seemed rather inexistent on a wonderful Friday afternoon. At least the 20-30 Poli fans present at the match remembered they stand for something greater than themselves.

There's not much to say after such a game and we're only left to hope it was all a big accident. But unless someone finds the roots of this accident, it might happen again any time. Hopefully it won't be next Sunday, when Poli meets Rapid in Timisoara.


Poli - Pandurii 3:1 (2:1)

I hate the rain, especially when it interferes with the successful practice of football. It might not have damaged the show as much as referee Kovacs did, but it surely scared the hell out of the fans, who appeared in the lower thousands at the stadium. But the ones who decided against coming to see Poli missed out on a very decent footballing turnout.

With Vrsic taking over Plesan's role in the first eleven, the white-violet team needed only around five minutes to change the score line: Karamyan sent a long corner to Alexa, who headed the ball back to Bucur, the latter scoring easily with another header. The advantage lasted only a few minutes though, as Kovacs decided to award a penalty for the visitors, after Abiodun's rather loose (but not necessarily reproachable) tackle against Constant Djapka; Ilie Iordache scored and the teams were level again. Several minutes later, Pandurii goalkeeper Adnan Guso tipped a ball over the post with an excellent save. Poli proved dangerous with every corner kick, John Wayne Srhoj missing two golden opportunities to bring the Timisoara team back in front. It was Ionel Ganea who managed this feat in the 42nd minute, as he gently redirected a fine Karamyan cross into Guso's goal. The half-time advantage permitted the Poli players to approach the next forty-five minutes with more confidence and as such, in just the 50th minute, Bucur scored his second of the night, with a well placed shot from just outside the penalty area. Two goals down, Pandurii struggled to keep up and occasionally proved capable of playing football to a high level, but it just wasn't enough, as neither of the three (more) dangerous long shots directed towards Popa's goal actually hit the target. On the other hand, Poli could have made it four, if Torje had crossed on an excellent counter-attack rather than shoot at Guso. As the final whistle approached, Ganea saw a second yellow card and was sent off, thereby missing the difficult match against Unirea Urziceni next Friday.

Uhrin's aggressive style will surely need to be adapted to the Romanian style of refereeing, as the man with the whistle (Kovacs) highlighted yesterday what kind of physical contact is deemed correct and what not - let me just say, I've always had the feeling our refs were under the impression that a bunch of old women suffering of osteoporosis were playing the sport, not 25-year old professional sportsmen. While Kovacs managed to upset both sides, it is football as such which has to lose the most if a ref can't take the whistle out of his mouth.


CFR Cluj - Poli 2:2 (2:1)

Sometimes, it's actually a great experience to watch football, even if you're not intimately involved with any of the combatants. Judging by people's reactions, Sunday's match was exactly this kind of game.

Dusan Uhrin Jr. seems to have managed to turn around a number of struggling players and - moreover - make them all function as an ensemble, all this in just two months time. Surely, there is still progress to be made, especially concerning the defensive aspects of the game, where faults have caused us to concede easy goals, but the team's performance at this point are surely grounds for optimism.

The match against the most important non-Bucharest squad of the day - CFR Cluj - was always going to be an extremely difficult one to win. Yet, Poli's first half performance yielded good football, in terms of possession and tactical display, only to be overcome by two defensive errors. Just a bit over two minutes into the game, Semedo easily disposes of Dancia and his well placed finish lead to the first goal of the night. Not the best of starts for Poli, that's for sure. But Uhrin's players didn't let the early goal affect them, as just one minute later Bucur found himself in an excellent position, his shot however was easy prey for Stancioiu. Poli drew level in the 13th minute, as Karamyan's free-kick found Plesan in the box, who sent a good header past Stancioiu, into the post, the ball tumbling into goal. The next twenty minutes were well controlled by the white-purple team, yet just after a debatable refused penalty on Plesan, CFR managed to score again, at their just second shot on goal of the match: Trica wriggled around at the edge of the box and his shot hit the post before going in - impossible save. One minute before half-time, Bucur's pass found Ganea one-on-one against the goalie, but his shot was saved - while the linesman erroneously signalled off-side.
The second half, while less exciting in terms of performance, was a truly nail-biting experience. McKain was sent off in the 63rd minute, after a second bookable offense, and things were looking up on our side. Yet, just a minute later, Vrsic sent a free-kick towards Plesan, whose header found the goal anew, thus Poli pulling back with one men less on the pitch! The minutes to come weren't going to be easy and it could've all been over, when Didi's rather impressive plunge in the depths of the penalty area made the referee point to the spot. The same Didi took the penalty, but Popa managed to save the shot with his legs, before Canu cleared the ball! While the defensive effort was strengthened when Uhrin sent Srhoj on the pitch, it would've all been in vain, if lady luck hadn't shined on Poli once more, in the last minute of the match. Gabriel Muresan's free-kick was barely saved by Popa, but the ball bounced to Didi, whose shot from just a few meters away was yet again saved by Sunday's best-man performer, Marius Popa! The final whistle came both as a relief and a just reward, after an excellent match which emphasized once more that the game of football exists outside of Bucharest and it should not be ignored or dismissed as irrelevant.

President Marian Iancu's decision to sell Mihaita Plesan to Steaua, just hours after he had scored two essential goals, was - to say the least - bizzare. Although the team is well covered in the midfield, strengthening an opponent with a first-team player never seems like a justifiably wise decision, especially considering that there was little financial gain to be made.

Nonetheless, the squad should be capable of absorbing this departure, even though it probably should have taken place under different circumstances. If rumors are true, Uhrin is trying to get another forward for the money received on Plesan, but it remains to be seen whether Mr. Iancu has the willingness to provide it. Sometimes I feel forced to think that performance is not the main objective in this "long-term project" run by Marian Iancu.