New FC Steaua Bucureşti coach Massimo Pedrazzini has appealed for calm as his side prepare for next week's visit of Arsenal FC in UEFA Champions League Group H.
Pedrazzini was given the Steaua job on a temporary basis last week following the resignation of Gheorghe Hagi. Echoing the differences at Chelsea FC between Roman Abramovich and José Mourinho, Steaua owner Gigi Becali's interference in team affairs was cited as the major reason for Hagi's sudden departure following the Matchday 1 defeat at SK Slavia Praha. Like Mourinho, Hagi had been criticised for the team's lack of flamboyance, four goals in six 1. Liga games proving too dull for Becali. Pedrazzini has since picked up the reins, and if questions remain over Becali's role behind the scenes, the Italian trainer is focused on kick-starting Steaua's stuttering campaign.
"If I say I will be the man who decides who plays, some people might say I'm joking," Pedrazzini said. "If I say another man decides, again it's no good. The fact is, we're under huge pressure and we need calm. I don't know how long my adventure as head coach will last, but for now we have to work with professionalism, with heart and soul, giving our best on the pitch. It's a hard time and all of us, the technical staff and the players, must get on with it and go for it. Everybody will have to take responsibility."
The appointment, however temporary, is a big step-up for the 49-year-old who is more accustomed to assisting another coach. As a player, Pedrazzini came through the ranks at AC Milan but spent his career at some of Italy's lesser lights before returning to the Rossoneri as a youth coach. His only senior coaching position was on the bench of Serie C2 side AC Monza Brianza 1912 in 2002/03, after which he teamed up with Walter Zenga – working first as his assistant at Steaua, before following him to FK Crvena Zvezda and Gaziantepspor.
Pedrazzini rejoined Steaua this summer to link up with Hagi. Since his succession, Italians now coach Romania's three biggest clubs, with Zenga at the FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti helm and Cristiano Bergodi at FC Rapid Bucureşti. It is unlikely that either will look towards their compatriot with envy. As well as running Hagi into the ground with public criticism of team selection and playing style, Becali has undermined Pedrazzini with his attempts to bring his "little brother", coach Cosmin Olaroiu, back to the club.
Olaroiu, now at Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Hilal, took Steaua into the UEFA Champions League last term; it is left to Pedrazzini to make the most of their return now. His tenure began with a less-than-convincing 1-1 draw at FCM UTA Arad last Saturday, although Wednesday's 4-0 Romanian Cup victory over FCM Bacau has lifted morale – an essential fillip before the visit of the English Premier League leaders. "We are not scared of them, but we have plenty of respect," Pedrazzini said. "If we were afraid, it would be better not to play. Anything is possible in football, because a match lasts 90 minutes. Why should we not be confident that we can achieve a good result?"
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