Summer of change looming for Olympiacos
Stuck in third place of the Super League, it looks like Olympiacos will miss out on the Greek title for the first time in eight years. With the club’s reputation on the line, the Thrylos are determined to turn things around next season.
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Olympiacos have endured one of the worst campaigns in recent memory, performing dismally in a tough UEFA Champions League group and flattering to deceive in the Super League. Two manager sackings haven’t helped the Thrylos, with instability and fan scandals all contributing to a pretty disastrous season. The reigning Greek champions do currently occupy third spot in the standings with 47 points, but they are a distant seven behind leaders AEK and run the risk of missing out on Champions League football. In order to qualify for Europe’s largest and most prestigious footballing competition, Olympiacos have to finish in at least second place of the Super League. The Piraeus club trail second-placed PAOK by five points, however the two clubs are currently appealing points deductions which were issued for fan trouble.
Naturally, Olympiacos owner Evangelos Marinakis is focused on improving the club’s fortunes in the 2018/2019 season. One issue certainly concerns the position of head coach. Owning an infamous record of rapidly changing coaches, Olympiacos employed Spaniard Oscar Garcia to take over from veteran Takis Lemonis in January, but recent matches have included one win, four draws and two defeats, a record simply good enough for a hot-tempered Marinakis. Garcia has two months this season to prove his worth and present an achievable project for the coming years, but if he fails to impress, replacements such as Vladan Milojevic and Pedro Martins are reportedly being eyed up. At a March meeting, Marinakis told Garcia that “he will be judged at the end of the season.”
In Piraeus, there’s a strong feeling that the current squad doesn’t have the talent, passion or commitment required to push Olympiacos forward. During the summer break, it’s widely expected that Uros Djurdjevic, Felipe Pardo, Alberto Botia and Seba will leave Olympiacos, and it’s also been mentioned that under-performing Greek midfielder Konstantinos Fortounis is heading for the exit door. A big question mark hangs over the head of Belgian Kevin Mirallas. Much loved by the Olympiacos faithful, Mirallas signed from Everton on loan for his second spell in Piraeus, but he is yet to score a goal and has been largely ineffective on the pitch. According to reports, Mirallas does have a release clause in his contract of 5.7 million euros and is friendly with Marinakis, but his performances will have the final say whether the club decide to purchase him. It is possible that Olympiacos will ask Everton for permission to loan Mirallas for another year.
34-year old goalkeeper Silvio Proto, who has done a decent job between the sticks since signing last summer, is one of the few Olympiacos players certain of a place on the roster next season. Bruno Viana, a Brazilian centre-back on loan at Braga from Olympiacos, has made 13 league appearances in Portugal and scored three goals, persuading Braga to become interested in buying him on a permanent basis. Viana is highly unlikely to return to parent club Olympiacos.
Behind the scenes, Serbian Darko Kovacevic’s relationship with Olympiacos is gradually turning sour. In Greece, sdna.gr published a story which suggested Kovacevic is not close enough to Olympiacos players and works without any sort of presence in the dressing room. Newspaper SportTime reported that Kovacevic’s stint with the Thrylos is approaching its conclusion.