So, I know its a bit late, but I figured I’d get a short review of the season up (even though its a season, one of many, that I would ultimately like to forget about)..
I guess it would be most appropriate to start from the beginning though in all honesty, I can barely remember much from the first half of the season! Pre-season started well for us, with a trip to Australia where we took part in a small football tournament. The friendly tournament consisted of AEK, Rangers (Scotland), Blackburn (England), and Sydney FC (Australia), three respectable opponents. I must admit that, after the positive results of the tournament (AEK scored five goals in her first match and ultimately ended up winning the tournament after beating all three teams), I had very high expectations of the team. Despite having very little time to adjust to the jet lag, AEK played some very impressive attacking football at times (I remember Libe, Leo, and Burns all standing out for me in those games) and things were looking good early on. The team was clearly gelling well together.
Unfortunately, it was not long after that until we were brought back down to earth with the reality of Greek football. At a friendly in Athens some time in August, Bajevic was attacked by a bunch of AEK supporters (though there were thankfully just as many, if not more, defending him).
It was not long after the events in Athens that AEK traveled to Scotland to take on Dundee in the first leg of the Europa League Qualifiers. Our record against Scottish opposition before the game was fantastic (two victories against both Hearts and Rangers, both in official European games) and Dundee did not seem to pose much of a threat to us. Thankfully, we left Scotland with a 0-1 away win, putting us in a fantastic position for the return leg.
Things were not looking good for AEK, however. Repair work going on at OAKA meant the stadium was not available for us to use. After looking for other solutions, the team decided the match would be played in Panionios’ stadium. Of course, with this being Greece, and AEK, things did not work out as smoothly as we would have liked. The Panionios supporters seemed to have a problem with AEK playing the match in their stadium (pity for them, as I can hardly see their scum team playing another European match in that stadium for a very long time…) and they thought it would be a good idea to vandalize the stadium to the point where it would not be usable for the match. After damaging goal posts, spraying graffiti, and tearing up half the grass on the pitch, the stadium was in fact deemed not usable and AEK were again forced to find another location to host the match.
Again, as I mentioned before, things are never easy for AEK. Eventually, we managed to secure Karaiskaki stadium for the match. However, due to the location of the stadium, right in the heart of enemy territory, AEK fans were not allowed to attend the match (so yes, Dundee ultimately ended up playing two home matches as only their supporters were allowed in). The match ended 1-1, which meant AEK were through thanks to our away goal in Scotland.
So, thats all I can remember from the pre-season, but feel free to add whatever I may have missed in the comments section below.
I could go through the entire season, but it was a rather depressing one to be honest. Sure, we had some good results (derby wins against PAO and Oly, as well as a fantastic 0-4 away win against Aris) but it also saw us end up with some of our worst results in history. A 0-4 home loss to Olympiakos Volou, and a 6-0 away loss against Olympiakos (both matches were with Jimenez as coach) showed that the situation with our club and the current team we have are clearly not up to the standards they need to be. I didn’t watch the 0-4 loss, but I certainly will put some of the blame for our 6-0 loss on the ref, and other circumstances, however, it was clear in that match that we were badly outplayed at times.
Overall, it was a dreadful championship for us. After the playoffs, we ended up fourth in the league. Throughout the championship, whether we had Bajevic or Jimenez as coach, we struggled against teams which AEK should NEVER struggle against, teams such as Kerkyra, Olympiakos Volou, Panionios, etc… We were painfully inconsistent, playing beautiful football one match, sloppy the next… as a supporter I must say that this AEK team was the most difficult to follow that I can remember. Especially when I compare the current team to the Championship winning team we had four years ago (lets face it, a team like we have right now will never compare to a team with Papastathopoulos, a younger Dellas and Libe, Zikos and Ribo controlling the midfield, a Blanco who could score anything). Sure, this past season we had some hard working Greeks like Georgeas, Kafes, and Makos, as well as Dellas and Libe. And sure, we had a solid keeper in Saja, and a fantastic player in Scocco, but overall as a team, we have been lacking greatly these past couple of years.
Anyways, as dreadful as the championship was, the Cup did manage to bring us some happiness. We knocked out some tough opposition on the way to the final including PAO (thanks to a wonder goal from Michel), and PAOK (thanks to the one and only Traianos Dellas), and we ended up winning the final 3-0 against Atromitos. Above all, the greatest moment of this season for me was seeing Libe raise the trophy. Its a pity that great men and players like Libe can end up going their entire career without ever raising a trophy, while teams like Oly end up buying their way to Championship after Championship… thats the reality of Greek football, and to be honest, I don’t ever see it changing, as it is also the reality of Greek life in general. However, for us, AEK is a sickness, something we can never leave, never abandon, and despite all the obstacles she will face in the future, we will always support her. I really do not see next season being any better than the last one. If anything, it will only be worse (I simply can no longer see the hope that others might see). Our management is slowly abandoning us, and like our basketball club, things will only get worse if something does not change. The supporters club has a good idea set up with its current plan. How long it will last, and what difference it will make, only time will tell. Until then, we will all still forever support our club.
And before I end this post, I want to once more bring our attention to the handball club, and team of guys who have all but dedicated their lives to AEK. The results in the championship, cup, and European tournaments, all show what a team can do when they put all their energy into playing for the love of your club rather than simply awaiting the next paycheck… MANY players from our football club could learn a thing or two from them.