Who Is New PAOK Boss Aleksandar Stanojevic?
After weeks of speculation as to who would manage PAOK next season, the situation was cleared up this week. Vladan Ivic has left the club and in his place is now Aleksandar Stanojevic. AGONAsport takes a look at the career of the Serbian coach.
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In the last couple days, Aleksandar Stanojevic was named PAOK manager. To many this was a surprising choice and a somewhat mysterious one as a good deal of supporters don’t know the 43-year-old Serbian coach all too well.
Stanojevic was a former professional player whose career took him to Mallorca in Spain as well as Hungary. However, it was in his native Serbia where he spent the majority of his time as a player.
Stanojevic began his career with Obilic in 1993. After a season with Mallorca he returned to Obilic for one year before making the switch to OFK Beograd for two years and then on to Partizan Belgrade for another two seasons. He returned to OFK before finishing off his career with a season at Videoton in Hungary.
EARLY COACHING DAYS
Stanojevic saw his future as a manager and his playing days were rather short-lived (10 years as a professional). He cut his teeth as a coach in the youth teams of OFK Beograd. Eventually be became the assistant coach to Miroslav Djukic at Beograd. It was a two-year stint that helped prepare Stanojevic for his first position as a head coach. That was at Srem of the Serbian First League (the country’s second division).
Djukic then offered his old assistant another opportunity at second in command as Djukic took the job at Partizan. Stanojevic followed and assisted Djukic again there for a season.
CLIMBING UP THE RANKS
Eventually, Stanojevic began making a name for himself and the Serbian FA appointed him Serbia U-19 manager in 2008. Stanojevic was manager for the youth national side for two years culminating in a terrific run to the semifinals of the U-19 European Championships in 2009.
As his profile continued to rise, Partizan sought his services in mid-April 2010 as he became the youngest manager in the club’s history at 36. Second in the table to rivals Red Star, Stanojevic masterminded an epic comeback in the league, by leading Partizan to seven wins in a row (one in the derby versus Red Star) and claiming the title in the process.
Stanojevic was charged with leading his team into the Champions’ League after that feat and did so in superb fashion as Partizan came through three qualifying ties by defeating Pyunik, HJK, and Anderlecht (whose assistant coach then was current Olympiacos boss Besnik Hasi). The actual Group Stage was unfortunately a difficult one for Stanojevic as Partizan lost all six of their matches against Arsenal, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Braga.
That disappointment did not keep Stanojevic from a return to domestic glory however. Partizan did the double in the 2010/11 campaign and Stanojevic’s work was praised all around.
PARTIZAN EXIT AND MOVE ABROAD
Failures in Europe and problems with the board ultimately saw Stanojevic forced out at Partizan. While the manager still maintained the support of the fans, issues with club President Dragan Djuric meant he was fired in a very controversial move.
After a few months off, Stanojevic decided to make the move to China and work with Dalian Aerbin of the Chinese Super League. The Belgrade-born boss found relative success with the club leading them from bottom of the table to a 5th place finish in the league.
In November 2013, he left the club to join rival Super League side Beijing Guoan. There he enjoyed a run to the FA Cup semifinals as well as a 3rd place finish in the league. However, at season’s end the management of the club decided against keeping him on.
A move to Israel came next as Stanojevic took over Maccabi Haifa. This turned out to be a struggle for the Serb as he lasted about six months in charge before being sacked with Maccabi fourth in the league.
It was then back to China where Stanojevic landed at Beijing Enterprises of the Chinese 2nd division. He managed there for two seasons, just missing out on promotion in his first campaign with club and then seeing his team finish 7th in the 2016 season. However, the highlight was in the 2015 season when Beijing Enterprises went to the semifinals of the FA Cup, defeating three Chinese Super League teams on the way. He left the club at the end of 2016 in what was his last job before PAOK.
WHAT PAOK FANS CAN EXPECT
Stanojevic seems to have certain characteristics that would befit a journeyman manager. However, he has shown he can stay at clubs and also find success. Partizan was his big passion as a coach and now it remains to be seen whether he will find that same feeling managing another black and white side.
PAOK fans will be eagerly awaiting to see what sort of team Stanojevic puts out onto the pitch. He is very fond of attacking football and prefers systems such as 4-3-3 and 4-4-2. A very religious man, Stanojevic is very demonstrative and active on the touchline. He also appears to be a bit of an ideologue. He believes in his playing style and will not compromise his ideas. He may have been allowed to stay at Partizan had he acted differently, but Stanojevic had the courage of his convictions and essentially walked out on a job and club he loved because of how strongly he felt about certain things the President said.
Can he succeed at Toumba? That remains to be seen. This is a manager though that has won titles and has made it to the Champions’ League, the same goals that PAOK currently have. Whatever the case, this is an interesting appointment by Ivan Savvidis and it will be compelling to follow PAOK in the coming months and analyze the job Stanojevic can do at a club with big ambitions.