Who is new Olympiacos boss Oscar Garcia?
Following Takis Lemonis’ unexpected sacking from Olympiacos, 44-year old Spaniard Oscar Garcia was officially appointed the Greek champions’ new head coach. In connection with his recent appointment, AGONAsport takes a closer look at Garcia’s fascinating career to date.
Before concentrating on coaching, Oscar Garcia enjoyed a reasonably successful playing career in his native Spain. Emerging through the Barcelona system, he made 151 combined appearances for the club’s first and reserve teams, scoring 44 goals along the way. Playing as an attacking midfielder, Garcia won a number of accolades with Barcelona, including four La Liga titles, two Copa Del Rey’s, a UEFA Super Cup and one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup.
Garcia then represented Albacete, Valencia, Espanyol and Lleida, helping Valencia win the 1999 Spanish Super Cup. In 1996, he turned out for the Spanish national team at the Olympic Games, netting on two occasions in the competition. Garcia eventually retired in 2005.
EARLY COACHING DAYS
Garcia’s adventurous coaching career got started in 2009, four years after retiring as a player. Legendary Dutchman Johan Cruyff, who had been given the job of managing the Catalan national team, gifted Garcia an assistant role. Garcia then worked in the Barcelona academy between 2010 and 2012, but it didn’t take long for him to move up the ranks, with the Spaniard joining Maccabi Tel-Aviv in 2012 for his first head coach position.
In Israel, Garcia made an immediate impact. The budding coach steered Maccabi Tel-Aviv to their maiden league title in ten years, easily winning the championship by a large ten-point margin and only dropping five defeats in 26 fixtures. However, he didn’t fancy hanging around in Israel for a prolonged amount of time. After winning the Israeli league, Oscar Garcia decided to move to England.
On June 26 2013, Garcia signed a contract with Brighton & Hove Albion, a club which was then participating in the Championship (the second level of English football). He took Brighton to the Championship playoffs, but he handed in his resignation after the team lost at the semi-final stage.
SHORT-LIVED RETURN TO MACCABI
Maccabi Tel-Aviv came calling for the second time, giving Garcia another shot at managing the club. Unfortunately, Garcia lasted just two months in Tel-Aviv. Unlike most managerial departures, this didn’t have anything to do with football at all. Political tensions began to increase in the region, persuading Garcia to step down from his role.
A few days after leaving Israel, English club Watford signed Garcia. Sadly, it proved to be another short coaching stint for the Spanish tactician. Winning one of four matches in charge, Garcia developed health issues and had to leave.
TROPHIES IN AUSTRIA
Garcia took a year out of football, returning in 2015 when taking over the helm at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. Finally, this is where Garcia actually settled and made a name for himself. He stayed in Salzburg until June 2017, winning an impressive four trophies with the Austrians. In his very first season in charge, Red Bull completed the Austrian double, repeating the trick in the second campaign. His excellent stay in Austria attracted the interest of St. Etienne, and Garcia took the decision to leave Salzburg for the French club.
To be honest, Garcia endured a nightmare in France. Failing to adapt to Ligue 1, he left St. Etienne with mutual consent after a 0:5 hounding from Lyon.
WHAT OLYMPIACOS CAN EXPECT
Taking into account that Garcia came through the Barcelona system, he naturally favours a free-flowing, possession based style. This is one of Garcia’s quotes: “My obsession is to attack and to have the ball as many times as possible. If we have the ball, we will have many chances to score and win. That’s my philosophy.”
It certainly suggests that Garcia will try and bring an exciting brand of football to Piraeus. Working with the likes of Johan Cruyff, Garcia knows how to play beautiful football, protect possession and create plenty of chances in the opposition’s box. Generally, he likes to play with a traditional 4-4-2 system or 4-3-3.
A real journeyman of a coach, many will be hoping that Garcia can stay longer in Greece than just a couple of months. Can he take Olympiacos to an eighth consecutive Greek championship? It’s not an easy task. Olympiacos lack stability, rapidly sacking managers and owning a large player turnover rate. Garcia has asked for time to build his own team, but we will see whether he is allowed to really make an impact. Whatever happens, it’s going to be fascinating watching how his Greek journey unfolds.