Panathinaikos set to embark on strange season
Panathinaikos are set to embark on the strangest season in their existence, however, there is a lot to gain in the long-term.
The 2019-20 season looms as the strangest in Panathinaikos’ illustrious history. The club is not starting on -6 unlike last season, and therefore, there is next to no danger of facing relegation. At the same time, the likelihood of winning the League title is very minimal. A finish inside the top four or five in the Championship shapes as a good target, but even if that was to be secured, the club would not participate in any European football (courtesy of the UEFA suspension that began last season).
Consequently, the Trifylli will be left in the ‘wilderness’ in this upcoming season but it can be used to their advantage, and an experienced manager in the form of Giorgos Donis would know that. The team will have virtually no pressure, relative to previous seasons and the identity that was created last season should be carried on. This includes a young, Greek core that understands the size of the club and what the shirt means, coupled with a strong attacking game.
The off-field situation is still not desirable, but Dabizas has landed several quality players that can make a difference in key areas across the pitch and provide competition for places. Bedding in the new faces and encouraging them to buy into the identity created should be the primary objective. A strong season could well land the Greens in the top five which would bode well for 2020-21 season, where the club can aim higher and will be playing for a spot in European football again.
The three-year ban started last season and would be wiped away the first time Panathinaikos qualified for any European competition, but several efforts were made to wipe this out to no avail.
The Greek Cup can shape as a realistic target. Long-suffering fans have not seen any silverware since 2014 (the longest drought of the big-4), so winning this competition would be seen as a step in the right direction for the future and provide fans with the opportunity to celebrate winning a trophy.
Nonetheless, this season provides Donis with a golden opportunity to keep laying the foundations for sustained, long-term success in the near future.