Troubled Iraklis focusing on survival
When the season began, Iraklis were regarded as one of the favourites for promotion to the Super League, but their campaign hasn’t gone to plan at all.
Iraklis’ climb back to the top has encountered severe difficulties. In the 2017/2018 season, the Thessaloniki organisation earned promotion to the Football League from the Gamma Ethniki, and many expected the club to continue their progress and return to the Super League. However, despite possessing a strong squad by Football League standards, Iraklis haven’t been able to make a challenge at the top.
After 17 matches, Iraklis occupy eighth place of the Football League standings, a mere six points ahead of the relegation zone and a large 10 behind the promotion slots. Iraklis have the likes of former AEL striker Emanuel Perone and Brazilian midfielder Cleyton on their books, but the group simply hasn’t clicked, and all faint hopes of miraculously breaking into the top two positions are all but dead.
In-fighting has recently come to light. Last week, Iraklis hosted AOK Kerkyra in Thessaloniki, drawing the game 1:1 after Perone’s early penalty had been cancelled out by Stelios Kritikos in the second half. On 70 minutes, Manager of Football Operations at Iraklis Ilias Theodoridis was seen speaking in a raised tone towards head coach Jose Manuel Roca, with the latter visibly annoyed with the outburst. Upon the match’s conclusion, Theodoridis then vented his fury at the Iraklis players in the dressing room, asking those who don’t want to play for the club to leave immediately.
Following the disagreement, Roca was predicted to leave, however he decided to stay for the time being after the Iraklis administration expressed its support for the 42-year old Spaniard.
Nevertheless, according to reports, Theodoridis wasn’t happy with Iraklis openly supporting Roca and this has caused supposedly bitter feelings towards the club’s major shareholder Tom Papadopoulos.
The scandal has arrived at the worst possible time. With the current season gradually approaching the final straight, Iraklis don’t need any unnecessary off-the-field distractions, especially given that their status as a second tier club is potentially under threat. Promotion to the Super League was the dream, but given how the troublesome the season has turned out, survival is now the number one priority.
Iraklis have drawn four of their past five Football League matches with Kerkyra (1:1), Irodotos (1:1), Platanias (2:2) and AO Trikala (0:0). The team next take to the pitch on Sunday against Aiginiakos on the road.