Rapid reprieve for Lucescu

Player power has prompted AFC Rapid Bucuresti to reinstate Razvan Lucescu, a day after sacking the coach.

By Paul-Daniel Zaharia in Bucharest

Less than 24 hours after sacking coach Razvan Lucescu and replacing him with Mircea Rednic, Romanian club AFC Rapid Bucuresti have performed an amazing about-turn by reinstating Lucescu at the helm.

Player power
The move follows a meeting on Tuesday morning between Rapid players and the club's majority shareholder, George Copos, the man behind the decision to get rid of the 36-year-old Lucescu. The first-team squad made clear their support for the latter, despite the fact Copos had already installed Rednic as his successor.

U-turn announced
In the event, player pressure combined with the protests of fans who gave overwhelming backing to Lucescu, prompted the u-turn by the Rapid board, which was announced on Tuesday afternoon. Copos said that "the players will now be the men responsible for the team's results because they are the ones that wanted to carry on with Lucescu."

Dissatisfied owner
In the build-up to Lucescu's dismissal, Copos had criticised Rapid's performance in their 3-0 UEFA Cup second qualifying round win against FK Vardar, a first-leg scoreline that should secure a place in the first round proper. Lucescu's side then relinquished a 1-0 lead in their second league game of the campaign on Sunday, allowing FC Arges Pitesti to draw 1-1 in Bucharest.

No trophies
The club owner had also made known his displeasure at Rapid's failure to win the Romanian Cup last season or finish in the top two in Divizia A - indifferent results against clubs from outside the capital costing them the championship.

Rednic thwarted
Lucescu did, however, receive the support of other board members at the Giulesti stadium and Dinu Gheorghe stepped down as executive president on Monday night because of the sacking. The 43-year-old Rednic had been due to embark on a fourth spell in charge of Rapid after steering FC Vaslui to the top flight last term. He was the last man to guide Rapid to the title in 2003, but even that wasn't enough to convince either fans or players.