Well we have reached that time again, the winter transfer window and the Liga 1 winter break. This time around I have been prepared our side with 8 friendly matches throughout this period, to maintain match sharpness, as we don’t want a repeat of last year.
Our transfer activity has been pretty effective, both in’s & out’s. As you can see we have spent very little in terms of money on players, most of the signings we have made are prospect for the future. The two exceptions are Steven Taylor and Danny Wilson. Now I have been using a system where I am mostly looking for Romanian players as I want to make good effects of the home grown rules, especially the players trained at my club. Taylor was brought in to add EPL experience from all those years at Newcastle and Wilson in my eyes was a no brainer at £1.1m. My scouts and coaches believe he has a 4.5 star rating potential, so he could well become a leading star at Steaua, or failing that potential value in resale.
My latest 3 transfers were too add additional strength to the squad, Amr Gamal looked like a good goal scorer, Philip Heise will add an extra bit of class for my left fullback position, which is more of a supporting role. The last man in Mihalcea, is a loan deal in which I will touch on later.
There have been a fair few departures from the club and we have boosted our finances because of this. Last season we had over 12 players out on loan, the problem we have is we have no reserve squad, just the U19’s. So our squad size this year was huge and only 25 can be selected for the Liga 1. Something had to give, so I needed to be ruthless. Most of the departure were fringe players and realistically weren’t going to play much at all this time round. The best bit of business that happened over the transfer window was the sale of our 17 year old attacking midfielder Vlad Mihalcea. Now normally I would want to cling onto such a talent but after rejecting a bid of £1.5m to Man Utd he threw his toys out the pram. So our good investors from last year came back again and I negotiated a lovely deal worth £2.9m and off he went, as mentioned earlier he has returned to the club on loan, due to a long term injury to our star winger Hamouran. Now I do believe that I should have bargained for more as his value at Chelsea is now £5m and that is only going to increase, but ultimately Steaua had £0 when I arrived, now we are rolling in the funds with a massive £10m in our bank account. We will eventually be in a position where we can develop young talents and be able to hang onto them when bigger boys come around. We will hopefully have the pulling power to convince players to stay, ultimately making us stronger and the Liga 1.
I have been giving some of the young prospects that I signed last year a chance in the team and they have all stepped up to the plate very well indeed. The 3 players I have given the opportunity to are Ionitia II, Iacob and Iancu, my 3 I’s. They have shown me that they are more than capable of playing at this level and continue to impress. Iacob is putting pressure on Nita, my current number 1. Ionita II is banging on the door so I am filling him into our midfield when I can and is really starting to earn the praises of my backroom staff. . Iacob is proving excellent back up for Maricia, who is now 31 and cannot play every game, when he has come into the side he seems to put a performance in. Overall I am extremely happy with my squad and the amount of cover I have in each position, not just cover, decent cover. So many options for my starting 11, if I was to change all 11 players the side doesn’t weaken, we are in a great position. My biggest battle will be making sure everyone stays happy, currently we are doing ok and moral is good. Let’s hope it continues.
I have tried to implement a new addition to my managerial style. For years I have been an Aresne Wenger and only ever implemented one system going into every game. I have decided that I will split my system into 2, one for games where I am expected to win and are clear favourites, the other for tougher opponents where it may be more of a test. We will still play the 433 system that worked well last year, there is 2 variations of this, a 3 man midfield trio, one is a DM and the opposite with one attacking midfielder. This is similar to the 442 that I started with last year, although it is more a 4231, or a lopsided 442, which ever way you look at it. I have tweaked the tactics and so far are proving to be a success. I also wanted some support for our central striker by giving him a shadow strike partner.
The season has gone well so far, we have 6 league fixtures to go before the championship play-off split and we currently sit top of the pack, 5 point ahead of our rivals, FC Dinamo București. There have been two sides to the coin this year in Europe. We improved on last season by reaching the Champions League group stages. Unfortunately FM decided to screw us with the group draw, again giving us a tough group. I think we drew the toughest group I have ever had in the history of FM, Bayern, Real Madrid and Ajax. To be perfectly honest I wasn’t too optimistic but mad sure we gave our all in each game. As to be expected we did not qualify from the group stage, or even register a win. But we managed to draw at home against Ajax and Bayern. This now has given me the realisation that in order to have a chance of improving in Europe, we must improve the squad dramatically.
The next instalment will be at the end of the season and hopefully we can see some quality signings before the Liga 1 starts again in February. Even though our Champions League run was pretty poor, once again I believe we have enhanced our reputation.
Stay tuned for the part 4