Who is Besnik Hasi
And his name is Besnik Hasi. The 45-year-old Kosovo-born (formerly Yugoslavia then) Albanian was named on Thursday as the new Olympiacos boss. AGONAsport takes a look at the man charged with leading the Greek champions into the next campaign.
Besnik Hasi was the surprise appointment by Olympiacos to take over the team for the 2017/18 season. While Hasi’s name was in the mix of potential candidates from the very start, it was always believed he was an outsider for the position.
However, as Olympiacos kept on missing out on their top targets, Hasi remained in the frame and the club’s new director of football, Armando Husillos, seemed to believe the Albanian was a suitable choice for the Piraeus club’s bench.
Before becoming a coach, Hasi was a player who won four Belgian Pro League titles (one with Genk and three with Anderlecht), while also managing to represent Albania 50 times at international level. He made nearly 400 appearances in a 20-year career at club level, playing in the former Yugoslavia, Croatia, Germany, and Belgium.
Hasi’s first coaching job was an assistant for Anderlecht in 2008. He remained in that capacity for six years until 2014 when he was promoted to head coach after the club sacked John van den Brom. Hasi went on to lead Anderlecht to domestic glory as the club won the Belgian Pro League after winning in the playoffs. He followed up that success in the following season as he led the side to a Belgian Super Cup win over Lokeren. His initial success at Anderlecht earned him Belgian Coach of the Year honors for 2014.
He followed up with a 2nd-placed finish in the 2014/15 season and then came in 3rd during his final campaign in the 2015/16 season. Unfortunately, those finishes were somewhat underwhelming and the club made a decision to fire Hasi in May 2016.
Hasi did mastermind some big victories for the club both domestically and in Europe. Anderlecht, under Hasi, managed to defeat Tottenham and Galatasaray in continental play and also came back from 3-0 down at the Emirates to draw 3-3 with Arsenal. Hasi even has previous history with his new employers having led Anderlecht to a 3-1 aggregate win over Olympiacos in the Round of 32 of the 2015/16 Europa League.
After parting ways with Anderlecht, Hasi took the reins of Legia Warsaw. He took over at the Stadion Miejski after Legia had won the 2015/16 Polish Ekstraklasa title. Things looked decent as Hasi led his new team to the Champions’ League Group Stage. However, Hasi didn’t even make it through September of his stint with the Polish giants. Two wins from nine league matches was a dismal return and that was compounded by a 6-0 Champions’ League Group Stage defeat to Borussia Dortmund. He was sacked after less than three months in charge.
Besnik Hasi has won nearly exactly half his matches as a manager in his spells with Anderlecht and Legia Warsaw. Judging by immediate reaction to his selection, Hasi will need more than statistics to convince fans of his abilities.
Hasi’s selection certainly will cause discussion amongst some supporters, while a great deal of fans will surely not be content with his installation as Erythrolefki boss. It is a seemingly underwhelming choice for those fans wanting a higher-profile manager. However, this could be Hasi’s big break. Opportunity beckons for a 45-year-old who faces the biggest managerial test of his career.
Hasi will have to win over supporters not entirely convinced he is the man to take the club forward. The new coach has even bigger problems though to start. He takes over a side who may have won their 7th straight league title, but did so in very disappointing fashion with an awful second half of the season. Hasi must make some big decisions early on with regard to personnel, specifically who will stay and who will go and which players to go after in the transfer market.
What could help Hasi is that he is a manager who prefers to play a 4-2-3-1 on most occasions. This would be similar to the system that Olympiacos has employed in recent years meaning the players shouldn’t need too much time to adjust.
The Champions’ League qualifiers will loom ominously over the new manager. Last season, Victor Sanchez found out how ruthless a job this could be. The Spaniard lasted just two months and two matches in charge of Olympiacos as they crashed out of the Champions’ League qualifiers after defeat to Hapoel Beer Sheva.
Could Hasi face the same fate? Or will he instead prove himself to be capable of making the grade in Greece? It all remains to be seen. Most supporters won’t be jumping for joy upon hearing the news that Hasi is the now the main man at the Georgios Karaiskakis. However, should he lead Olympiacos to the Group Stage of the Champions’ League he would most likely win over fans and gain the trust and time needed to find success in his latest managerial job.