Nightmare Season A Bitter Pill To Swallow
AGONAsport’s Nick Tsambouniaris talks about Panathinaikos’ nightmare season to date and the key to help salvage a wasted season.
Not even in February yet and just over halfway through the season, but Panathinaikos finds itself in an extremely unfamiliar position. Sitting mid table in the league and eliminated from the cup, the Greens have next to nothing to play for. Chuck in the debt hanging over the club like a dark storm, you can only feel for Ouzounidis and the players.
The effort has been there for the most part, it is just that little bit of polish and quality that is lacking. Currently sitting in 8th position in the league and yet to win a single away game, fans have every right to feel short-changed by club management. At the back end of last season, Ouzounidis had the team playing very well in a cohesive manner with great wins against Olympiakos, PAOK and AEK along the way. If the club kept that core group of players such as Zeca, Berg and M’Poku to name a few, things would have been very different. Then there is the impending exit of influential centre back Moledo to add insult to injury. When you consider all of this, season 2017-18 becomes a bitter pill to swallow.
Looking forward, it is not all doom and gloom. The weekend drubbing of Kerkyra proved there is potential in the squad, however, as fans we do not see this on a consistent enough basis, making it all the more frustrating. On track for our worst finish since 6th place in 2012-13, Ouzounidis has nothing to lose. Relegation looks extremely unlikely, as does a European berth. Depending on who is sold in a bid to pay off the large debt, we should start to see more Academy products get integrated into the first team. Tasos Chatzigiovannis made the point some weeks ago, stating that the “young Greek players from the youth teams know more about the history of the club and the weight of the shirt” as opposed to foreigners. Chatzigiovannis himself was very impressive in that 4-0 win over Kerkyra, notching an assist for Christos Donis’ goal.
Donis is the perfect example of hard work but lack of quality. He is a central midfielder being asked to play as a striker so scoring goals is not in his artillery as he does not have that striker’s instinct. Ouzounidis has no one else to call upon which is the sad part, Chavez is ancient history and the hard-working Molins is injured for the next 6 weeks. This goes back to the point of why this inconsistent season is a bitter pill to swallow for the fans. Last season, fan favourite Leto could come off the bench and provide a very handy backup option to Berg. This is the fault of club management for not being able to keep the core of the team. Obviously the finances had a lot to do with that, but again that is the fault of the board.
In summary, the win over Kerkyra should do wonders for the confidence of the team. It is hoped that free-flowing play can be replicated in away games, starting next week at Apollon Smyrni. You get the feeling that once that first away win comes, the rest will follow. The future’s of star players Kourbelis and Villafanez are still unclear, so let’s make the most of their time at the club. Additionally, it would be great to see the rise of highly rated youth prospects. They would not demand as much money as foreigners to begin with, understand the meaning of the club and play without fear as rookies usually do. Along with that, the club would not need to fork out a transfer fee and could potentially sell them in the future for a big profit.
The message is clear for the run home, play on the front foot without fear, play with pride and chase every ball like it is your last. That would salvage some pride and put smiles on the faces on long-suffering fans.