Monday, October 22, 2012

Up the table were the usual small cubs struggling for survival and the solid unambitious mid-table clubs. UTA Arad were seemingly in decline (12th place this season), Arges (Pitesti) had weak year (11th), Politehnica (Timisoara) was climbing up (6th), Jiul (Petrosani) was perhaps a bit higher than normal (5th), but... all that was pretty much in the realm of mid-table: there was sharp 4-point divide between 3rdh and 4th place, and the group between 4th and 17th place was divided by 7 points – the champions were 12 points above ASA at 4th, and 19 points above Progresul, 17th.

Arges (Pitesti), having a weak season and finishing at unlikely low place. Even the shirt of the Italian national team their goalkeeper sported did not help.

ASA Targu Mures finished 4th thanks to better goal difference. Those were strong years for the club – they never won anything, so to grab a UEFA Cup spot amounts to success. ASA managed to stay on the top of the mid-table clubs for few years, but that was all.

ASA were club belonging to the Army and thanks to that they were perhaps able to take desirable players from most other clubs and build a strong squad. But to belong to the Army was also their doom, for inevitably they were subordinated to Steaua (Bucharest). Not only they were recruiting players only after Steaua satisfied its appetite, but 'big brother' took whoever they wanted from ASA as well. At the best, ASA was capable of keeping team good for 4th place and to stay happy with small results. Participation in the UEFA Cup was really the best they can do.

At the end, it was really a race of three clubs – Steaua, Dinamo, and Universitatea (Craiova). The 'students' were not even in the race – solid third, 4 points bellow the silver medalists. The Army were not real competitors either – they fought, won exactly the same number of matches the champions did – twenty in total – but lost way too many games and ended 'comfortably second. The Police ruled – Dinamo won their 9th championship.
Nothing new about the champions really – if not Steaua, Dinamo then... but in a way the squad exemplifies the 'in between' state of Romanian football: by now the stars of the 1960s were coaches – two of the legendary six Nunweiller brothers were at the Dinamo's helm. Cornel Dinu was nearing retirement, the link with the last international Romanian success. The other well known names were from the 'lost' generation of the 1970s: C. Stefan, A. Satmareanu, G. Sandu, M. Lucescu, D. Georgescu. Mircea Lucescu became famous coach indeed, but the player Lucescu did not get much fame... and even less Dudu Georgescu. Well, he was the best known Romanian player at the time thanks to his goals: this season he scored 47! Not only the Golden Shoe was his for second time after he won it in 1975, but the fantastic number of goals was all-time European record.

Another goal for Dudu – quite impressive too. It could be said that he was responsible for Dinamo's success, for the rest of the team was not exactly great as a whole. But one wonder was not enough for strong and successful national team... Georgescu was unlucky to play in the 1970s: if he was born a few years later, he would have much more talented teammates around. It is even a bit troublesome to judge his unusual goal-scoring ability: the 1970s are very distant now, and by the end of the 1980s the Romanian goal-fixing loomed and destroyed the original Golden Shoe competition. Georgescu was not tainted, but... who really knows? Manipulating scores was not at all difficult in a Communist state – I have seen it myself: opposition practically not playing, referees giving imaginary penalty, goalkeeper not even pretending to save his net, great goal-scorer at the end... and a Bronze Shoe comes along. Georgescu scored a lot in the domestic championship, but not that much in international matches. True, he had not so strong teammates and it was therefore much more difficult to score abroad, but the difference is nevertheless fruit for thought. Yet, he was good: he practically scored a goal in every second match he played for the Romanian national team. Unfortunately, he never played professionally abroad – not his fault, for he was of the generation not allowed to do that – and there is no way to evaluate him 'independently', so to say. Let not judge him harshly – Georgescu scored fantastic number of goals. In Romania, he was top scorer for a third time in a row. Too bad he had to play in the 1970s.