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Lars' Club - CFR Cluj


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Interesting article about how they may have reached the end of their rainbow. (With a group photo including Lars). I don't know what his future looks like at the club, but perhaps an exodus of players may mean more playing time for Lars?


How CFR Cluj's fairytale turned sour - Two months ago, Cluj beat Roma and held Chelsea in the Champions League. Now, though, everyone wants to leave

They still talk of beautiful endings and the fairytale of the underdog, but of late the fable of CFR Cluj has taken all too modern a twist. Perhaps there was once something uplifting about the story of the team from Transylvania, who in six seasons rose from the Romanian third division to beat Roma in the Champions League, but as the squabble for survival begins, it is hard to remember now. For this, fundamentally, as everything in football seems to be, is a story about money.

There are too many differences in their circumstances to suggest that the Chelsea of Romania could in any way be a precursor for the original Chelsea, whom they play tonight, but what has happened to CFR over the course of the group stage is a reminder to everybody of how little loyalty often means in football, of how quickly a dream can evaporate.

Arpad Paszkany, CFR's owner, became rich as a car dealer, and inflated his fortune by dealing in land and property. As prices have slumped, so his business has been affected, and the football club he bought six years ago is feeling the pinch. The midfielder Eugen Trica was making the usual defiant noises this weekend, insisting CFR will not be taking it easy just because they cannot qualify even for the Uefa Cup.

"If we don't play this like a life-and-death game," he said, "we risk conceding 10 goals against Chelsea." And yet the truth is that it is still unclear whether, having already agreed an 18-month deal with Anorthosis Famagusta, he will play at all. He is just the first of a long line of probable departures.

To begin with, this will almost certainly be Maurizio Trombetta's final game as CFR coach. Given his only previous experience as a manager was in the sixth flight of Italian football, he was a startling appointment to replace Ioan Andone who, despite leading CFR to the title last season, was ousted at the end of August after a run of four games without a win.

Still, he didn't seem fazed, his first game bringing that victory in the Olimpico. Although six wins from 11 league games since might be a little disappointing, they head into the winter break only six points behind the leaders, Dinamo Bucharest. "I want to continue my work," Trombetta said. "I think that we have played well and I am confident that we can win the title again." So at least somebody at CFR is still dreaming.

Not the chairman, Iuliu Muresan, though. "After the Chelsea game we will talk and we will make a decision," he said. "But if we don't lose at Stamford Bridge, then maybe he can keep him job." If he can also bring back the hide of the Nemean Lion, slay the nine-headed Hydra and give the Augean stables a quick swill as well.

The mood is very different to September, when CFR arguably had the better of their 0-0 draw with Chelsea in Romania. "We had them in our hands in Cluj, but we wasted the opportunity," said the Uruguayan midfielder Alvaro Pereira. "Me especially. I still see before my eyes the chance I had and the fantastic save by [Petr] Cech. But Chelsea are in for a big surprise. Even though they have to win to get through to the next round, they can expect no favours from us."

Chelsea are unlikely to need any. The biggest aim for a lot of players may simply be to avoid injury ahead of the January transfer window. Steaua Bucharest's owner Gigi Becali's dismissal of CFR as a team of "foreign mercenaries" was born of bitterness, but they are beginning to act like it.

"It's been fantastic here," said Emmanuel Culio, who scored both CF goals at the Olimpico. "But if a Spanish team wanted me, I would say yes immediately." Others have been rather blunter than the Argentine midfielder. "I want to go to Roma," said his compatriot, Sebastian Dubarbier. "I am young and I want to play for a great team. CFR must accept my wishes and not make any problems for me." Two months ago, he was merrily posing for photographers, throwing darts at a Chelsea badge and proclaiming his love for all things Cluj.

But while Dubarbier's lack of diplomacy may be distasteful, it is hard to be too critical. He is, after all, a professional with bills to pay, a family to feed and a career to look after. It is hardly his fault if all he hears every day is dark talk of squad-trimming. Why would he stay when he knows that the dream is over and it will be a very different, diminished Cluj he finds himself playing for in the spring? Despondent self-interest is universal.

"Chelsea probably think that we are down and they can destroy us," said CFR's captain, Cadu. "But you will see a CFR team like in the opening round. We will play open football, attack and try to make a good result."

Unless the shadow of the final curtain is enough to inspire a bravura farewell, that, frankly, is unlikely.

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Thanks for the link Massimo.

I watched the Chelsea-CFR Cluj game last night and they were using what the commentators described as their 2nd string Portugese keeper Nuno Claro. I thought he played an excellent match, while not a tall presence in the back, he showed great agility and made a handful of spectacular saves.

So I'm not sure who the regular number 1 is for Cluj, but safe to say Lars is up against some stiff competition if that chap last night is the back-up.

Lars has made a bit of a career out of playing a secondary role at major clubs, and I'm sure he's done relatively well financially as a result. I was disappointed to see him leave Rosenborg because he had done a great job as their number 1, especially during their Champions League run where he was praised for several good performances.

I think Lars has proven again this WCQ cycle that he is good enough to start in leagues like the Bundesliga 2, Championship, Holland, Denmark, etc...

Unless Stillo or Street can mature very quickly, I see Lars probably leading the way in 2014. I don't think any of the Wagenaar, Begovic, Stamatopoulos camp will be an international starter for us.

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Thnaks Masster.

The number one at Cluj is Romania NT number 2 or 3, Eduard Stancioiu. I think he's injured.

I'm wondering where Lars will end up if he doesn't stay at Cluj. I guess Scandinavia would be a good spot for him again.

I believe Josh and Asmir could give Lars some competition in 2-3 yrs from now. They both have been reported has playing very well for Yeovil. YT isn't the kind of club we want our keepers to play at but they are facing stiff opposition and if they could get interest from a CCC level team that could be enough to challenge Lars and Sutton, who I think could with some improvement in his communication be a future number one.

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