What Happened After That Great Night At OAKA In 2014
Last week signalled the last time Panathinaikos won silverware, it was the 2013-14 Greek Cup. The Greens defeated PAOK 4-1 at OAKA thanks to a hat trick from Marcus Berg and a goal from Nikos Karelis. Unfortunately that was as good as things got for the club during the Alafouzos era.
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That night was supposed to signal a new dawn for Panathinaikos as the club found itself in an eerily similar position it finds itself today - it was banned from participating in any European competition. However, Alafouzos (who was new to the scene) set about writing the wrongs of the past by bringing in Giannis Anastasiou as manager and Nikos Dabizas as technical director. He was also able to recruit a good mix of quality, experienced foreigners and young Greek talent. This was evident in the form of Berg, Pranjic, Schildenfeld, Mendes and Petric, who perfectly complemented players such as Triantafyllopoulos, Kapino, Lagos, Chouchoumis, Marinakis, Karelis and Klonaridis.
Alafouzos’ hard work began to pay off, as the team hammered Eternal Rivals, Olympiakos 3-0 away, before qualifying for the Cup Final. Alafouzos was beginning to endear himself to the fans. In the aforementioned final against PAOK, Berg also endeared himself to the fans with that magical hat trick.
The team that wore the Trifylli that night was as follows: Kotsolis, Nano, Schildenfeld, Koutroubis, Triantafyllopoulos, Mendes, Pranjic, Zeca, Abeid (subbed in the 75th minute for Lagos), Karelis (subbed in the 71st minute for Ajagun), and Berg (subbed in the 89th minute for Petric).
From that squad, only three players started the current season at the club - Zeca, Koutroubis and Christos Donis. As of right now, only Donis remains at the club, and he was merely a squad player back then. This season, however, he has worn the captain’s armband and played large chunks of the season out of position at striker. Nothing sums up the sad state of affairs at Panathinaikos more than this.
That great night at OAKA made every Panathinaikos fan around the world dream of a new beginning, much like the great 2009-10 season where the Greens won the League and Cup double. However, it brought about the beginning of the end. Since then, the club participated in UEFA Champions League qualifiers and qualified for the UEFA Europa League group stages. The team came awfully close to winning the League title in 2014-15, but the punishment following the outstanding home win against Olympiakos put an end to that.
It is from here on where the true downfall of Panathinaikos began. With Dabizas departing the previous summer, the club had no clear plan and as a result, signed a host of over-hyped foreigners who simply were not good enough and did not care. The airport was packed to welcome Essien but the effects of this failed signing can still be witnessed today. Sanchez and Wemmer were als huge disappointments.
Losing to Qabala over two legs in the Europa League qualifiers made the 2015-16 season a failure before it even started. Consequently, Anastasiou left and in came Andrea Stramaccioni. The Italian manager was lucky to last as long as he did, as things went from bad to worse for the club, most famously almost being eliminated from the 2016-17 Greek Cup group stage in an easy group. Fortunately for the club, the appointment of former player, Marinos Ouzounidis, steadied the ship and pride has been instilled in the shirt.
Since the 2014-15 season there has been a whopping 55 transfers, little wonder why continuity was so hard to find.
2014-15 (summer): Steele, Schildenfeld, Bouy, Berisha, Bourbos.
2014-15 (January): Tavlaridis, Ninis, Mavrias.
2015-16 (summer): Giannakopoulos, Wemmer, Sanchez, Essien, Thelander, Abeid, Lod, Kaltsas, Evangelou.
2015-16 (January): Odisseas Vlachodimos, Panagiotis Vlachodimos, Mesto, Moledo, Leto, Villafanez, Boumal, Evangelista, Mamoute.
2016-17 (summer): Reis, Samba, Ivanov, Hult, Coulibaly, Wakaso, Ledesma, M’Poku, Ibarbo, Rinaldi.
2016-17 (January): Kourbelis, Molins, Klonaridis.
2017-18 (summer): Dioudis, Avlonitis, Johansson, Insua, Chavez, Sylla, Kolovetsios, Tzandaris, Luciano, Altman, Hiljemark, Mounier, Cabezas.
2017-18 (January): Kace, Mystakidis, Oikonomou.
As a result of trying to stay afloat financially, Alafouzos sold the club’s biggest assets in the form of Berg and Zeca. Out of the 55 transfers, 38 have departed and only 17 remain. Of those 17, three were recently acquired in January. The remaining 13 are all part of Ouzounidis’ 19 signings.
This is how things have spiralled out of control at Panathinaikos.