- Kala Na Patheis Marinaki… -
by Sarantos Kaperonis
Although the players and coaching staff are to blame for an embarrassing elimination from the Champions League, the biggest blame falls on Vaggelis Marinakis. The big boss left his team out to to dry and his pocket will suffer this year as the team is not competing in this years Champions League Group stage.
In a tough time period for Olympiacos fans, the blame for being eliminated by a small team like Hapoel Be'er Sheva (compared to the great history and recent success in Europe for Olympiacos) can be thrown everywhere and anywhere. Fans have blamed the players, coaching staff and even, ridiculously, blamed the referee. However the biggest blame needs to be thrown at the top of the pyramid-the big boss Vaggelis Marinakis. The team's owner (and his administration) left his players and coaching staff unprepared and incapable to compete in Champions League Qualifying.
First and foremost, the team clearly needed players in certain positions including a stopper, a winger, and a striker. With the "coldest" transfer season since Marinakis took over (only signed Figueiras, Leali, de la Bella, and Constantinos Laifis-on loan to Standard Liege) the gaps in those positions were clearly seen in the two matches against Be’er Sheva. Marinakis took the risk of delaying all major signings until the team was assured a place in the Group Stage (and a huge chunk of money), which completely backfired on him. This could be why coach Marco Silva unexpectedly resigned from the team. Although Silva had high hopes for another great season (and a longer run in Europe), the lack of financial support from the management gave the Portuguese coach no other choice but to leave.
Victor Sanchez took over the club after Silva’s resignation and began pre-season training with many players on the roster. Confusingly this included players that were previously told to find a new club such as Durmaz, Kasami, and da Costa. Masuaku was also certain to leave Olympiacos on a good transfer move, but a Marinakis held onto the player in hopes of a great offer (over €13 million). For some reason the administration held on to the “blacklisted” players with the season quickly approaching, causing issues in the locker-room. This was clearly shown when Durmaz reacted to his substitution in the first leg match in Greece, which is something uncalled for from a player.
I don’t want to touch much on Olympiacos’ showings over the two legs against Hapoel, mainly because it was simply not “Olympiacos.” It was by far one of the worst (if not worst) performances by the Erythrolefki in Europe in the last 12 years. The Greek Champions created ONE chance to score in over 180 minutes of play with no creativity on the offensive end, accompanied by an extremely shaky and unconfident backline. The team was by no means prepared for the season to begin and it showed in the final friendly defeat to Atromitos. This defeat should have sparked an alarm to the team and management. With 2.5 weeks from the friendly defeat, to the second leg loss in Israel, the team digressed rather than improved. I would be shocked if the team that competed against Hapoel would finish in the top half of the Greek SuperLeague.
Victor Sanchez made many mistakes at Olympiacos, including the pre-season training, managing of the roster, and the reading of his opponent before and during the game. With so many wrong judgments, Victor Sanchez must go. He seemed as a good option at first (previously at Olympiacos with Michel), but his stay will cause a broad range of problems not only with the team and players, but also with the administration and fans.
Now is the most critical and sensitive time for Olympiacos. A season starting off in this fashion could ruin the rest of the year and set the team back many years. Quick and accurate decisions need to be made seeing as the Europa League playoffs start in 10 days and the SuperLeague in 13 days. The team needs a manager that will be fully supported by the administration, and players that will fill the current gaps that are in the roster. Players that are not in consideration need to be sold so the “new” Olympiacos team can begin their season (forget Hapoel) and first qualify for the Europa League and then focus on the Greek SuperLeague Title.
The ball is now in Marinakis’ court. The Olympiacos owner has failed his team once (costing him over €20 million and the fans’ the joy of the Champions League) and will now need to make the changes that will bring his team to their full potential.