Even a man as belligerent and steeped in success as Cosmin Olaroiu has a breaking point.
The Arabian Gulf League found out where this was at the weekend, a seventh-successive draw in all competitions seeing Shabab Al Ahli Dubai Club and their respected Romanian – officially, at least – agreeing a release by “mutual consent” after four years of unprecedented success together.
This has left a cavernous gap in UAE domestic football, an arena he has pugnaciously dominated since Al Ain recruited him six years ago. The region’s foremost club coach has delivered 10 trophies and historic defeat in the 2015 AFC Champions League during his time within these borders, this figure being boosted to an unfathomable 14 when you add in the successes enjoyed at Qatar’s Al Sadd and Saudi Arabia’s Al Hilal since departing his native land a decade ago.
The question now is what comes next? Curing an ongoing – and painful – back condition will be foremost on the 48-year-old’s list of priorities, but a quick return to work is a must for this coaching behemoth no matter his wide-ranging interests and investments away from the beautiful game.
For the good of Middle East football and for his own sense of professional pride, his next step must be a return – and hopefully a glorious one – to Europe. This would add to the weight of evidence that Asian football only offers a dead-end move for the unambitious.
Olaroiu has the ability, influence, tactical acumen and rampant desire to excel anywhere. Now is the time for the 2005/06 UEFA Cup semi-finalist with Steaua Bucharest to put this statement to the test on the old continent.
Offers, surely of a lucrative nature to match the reputed €6.5 million (Dh28.4m) per year arrangement with Shabab Al Ahli, will flood in from across the Arabian Gulf. He appears a natural fit at Al Jazira if the champions’ struggles under Henk ten Cate continue, while he remains a prized candidate in Saudi no matter his controversial and forced departure from Hilal or troubled loan spell with the national side at the 2015 Asian Cup.
مهدي علي مدربا للفريق
شباب الاهلي ينهي عقد كوزمين بالتراضي pic.twitter.com/hUtugRCCcH
— نادي شباب الأهلي دبي (@alahlicclub) December 2, 2017
No matter the figures on offer, a polite ‘no’ should follow.
Leading his native Romania remains a pipe dream for Olaroiu after Cosmin Contra recently pipped him to the post. But his force of personality would be perfect to rouse fallen Scottish giants Rangers and provide the antidote to their failed Qatari experiment with Pedro Caixinha.
If Bundesliga basement boys Cologne are looking for an instant uplift, they should look no further.
Of Olaroiu’s recent AGL alumni, Zlatko Dalic has parlayed steady success at Al Ain into leading Luka Modric and his fellow Croatia superstars at next summer’s World Cup.
Even erratic journeyman Walter Zenga was given a shot at ambitious Championship-outfit Wolverhampton Wanderers last term.
A failure to navigate the tricky waters caused by May’s shock merger at Rashid Stadium and ongoing withdrawal of investment should not count against Olaroiu replicating these moves.
Given the chance, he will top them all.
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