A few days ago AEK announced our latest signing, 29 year old centre back Cesar Arzo. The Spanish defender has had a moderately succesful career in Spain, with teams like Villareal, Recreativo, Valladolid, and Zaragoza and with solid experience in one of the world’s most demanding leagues, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing what his skill and experience can bring to the team. He seems quite excited to join the club which is always good to see.
Now I know not all of you will be happy about this, but whether you’re happy or not, Djebbour is back. I personally was on the edge when he was just a rumour, but I think now that its official, I’ve come to accept it. He may not be the best striker the world has ever seen, but he’s certainly a very decent one who just came off a great season for APOEL.
Obviously I can never forget the fact that he went to Olympiakos, and I’m sure he is well aware that many AEK supporters will be thinking of that when they see him wearing our shirt again, but the prospect of him being up front with Aravidis is certainly something that I’ll be looking forward to seeing next season, particularly with players like Simoes, Mantalos and Johansson providing support from lower down the pitch.
From what I’ve been reading, Vargas has been having a great tournament at the Copa America so far. Hopefully his form continues through to when he starts playing for us later in the year because if it does, then he will definitely stand out in the superleague.
Speaking of the superleague, I’m sure many of you have heard the news from earlier today regarding Marinakis. He had a little visit to a court in Athens where he was ordered to pay a fine (which realistically will be hardly anything for him), report to a police station twice a month, and stop any involvement with football. I suppose its good to see some action finally being taken against this man, especially when I expected little or nothing to happen at all. On the other hand though, what exactly will this change? If he wants to, he can still have his way with the team and league since I’m sure he’ll find some way of arranging to have someone work for him, plus I can’t see how this actually punishes the team in any way. Its definitely still quite early, so I’m willing to give the courts some time to see what else they can do, since clearly they feel theres enough evidence to prove what kind of a mess this league really is. And at the end of the day I have to be happy and relieved that finally some action is being taken. Now I just really hope they don’t stop here..
Big news yesterday following a meeting with Bajevic, Mellisanidis, and Dellas, news that I’m quite relieved to hear. I know its a bit early to make significant judgments on Dellas’ ability as a coach considering we’ve yet to consistently face tough opposition, but he really deserves the chance to prove himself as far as I’m concerned. He’s done well with the team and budget hes had until now and I can’t help but appreciate his dedication to the team. Not only did he come in at a time when not many people were willing to, but he also stuck with the team through what have been the two most difficult years since AEK was formed ninety one years ago.
It wont be easy for him next year when he will face more difficult opposition both on and off the pitch, but I think its important we not have our expectations too high. Do I want us to win the championship? Of course I do, but I have to remember that we’re still building the team and as of now, we certainly don’t have a team that is ready to win it all yet. Perhaps that could change as the summer goes on, but that all depends on what kind of players we go for, and how much management is willing to spend.
As most of you will by now have learned, the playoffs are now officially over, and it didn’t really end as well as we all would have liked. Our final two results were a 1-1 draw against Larissa and a 1-0 loss to Oly Volou and while I’m not exactly happy about the scores, at this point all I want to do is forget the past two years even happened. From here on things can only get better, and they certainly will.
Transfer talk has been the usual throwing around of names, but we are apparently close to singing Ronald Vargas (I believe its just a matter of receiving the signed contract, but I really couldn’t say for sure). I haven’t seen Vargas play personally but judging from youtube clips, I think he would definitely be a great addition to the team. We’ve also signed Stavros Vasilantonopoulos, a 23 year old from Apollon Smyrnis. I haven’t seen much of him either but he was apparently Apollon’s best player this season, so I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do during the preseason.
Not an easy game for AEK, as we fell behind three times throughout. Luckily our players managed to show some determination to come back from behind each time, but the result still is not the most encouraging when we’re just about to enter the top division once again.
To be fair, Dellas did go with a lineup consisting mostly of bench players for the second game in a row so I guess there’s only so much we can tell from the result and performance. Plus, I have to constantly remind myself that it has been a very long season for much of the team considering we have been playing competitive games since late August. That doesn’t excuse the team giving less than their best, though I suppose in a way I can kind of understand it.
The ratings for the game from AEK365 were horrible, particularly in terms of goalkeeping and defense. In fact they were probably the worst ratings I recall seeing for an AEK game. Karagiolidis once again had a pretty bad performance, and its pretty safe to say at this point that he wont be playing any role in the first team next season. I feel bad for the guy considering hes had pretty much no time at all playing competitively and the only games he does play are horrible performances, but with his lack of meaningful experience with the team, nobody can be surprised.
Thankfully it was not all bad news from the game yesterday as Chrisantus managed to have another promising performance. I’m not quite sure yet if I see a spot for him on the team next season since it really comes down to what singings we make during the summer, but hes definitely been taking advantage of these last few games to prove hes at least worth considering. I’m definitely willing to give him the benefit of the doubt since he only joined the team in January and rarely had the chance to get some game time until well into his time at the team.
Theres been a lot of talk regarding singings for the summer, and as of yet I don’t believe a word of it. It seems like this summer will be more of the same, with three different names being thrown around each day. Latest I just read was Maxi Rodriguez, though theres also been talk of Volkan Demirel for keeper. I remember seeing some impressive performances from Volkan so I don’t think I’d mind him (I remember we had an AEK fan from Turkey posting on the blog a couple weeks ago… If you happen to read this, do you have any thoughts regarding Volkan?), but I’m starting to get tired of names like Maxi Rodriguez. Sure, he had a pretty respectable career, but I’m really starting to wish we’d see less 34 or 35 year olds being mentioned. I would love some experience in defense and midfield, but really I’d rather spend the money on two or more solid younger talents rather than picking up another 34 year old just because of his name. If they’ve been playing particularly well and have a couple good years ahead of them then sure, but really if that were the case would other teams with deeper pockets than AEK be looking to pick up the players too?
Anyways, not sure what names will be mentioned tomorrow morning when I wake up, but I’m really hoping one way or another that management shows some urgency and makes some quality singings. Its already June, and the pre-season is really not too far away at this point…
Not an impressive game according to what I read, though not a particularly important one either considering promotion has already been clinched. Dellas took the opportunity to give some players the chance to start a game when they otherwise wouldn’t, so naturally the chemistry wasn’t quite there as it normally would be with our regular starters. Karagiolidis got the start in net, while Svaras, Faye, Zoric, Grontis, and Chrisantus were all also starters.
We managed to play alright offensively from what I saw in the highlights, though our defense was shaky at best. Again, its not surprising considering some of these players have hardly had the chance to play all season, but hopefully they’ll manage to tighten things up a bit in the remaining three games if they continue to start. Realistically though I’m sure a number of the players who got the start on Sunday know that their chances of being in the first team next season are rather slim.
Not sure what exactly caused it all, but if you watch the highlights at all you might notice some incidents in the stands involving Panachaiki president Kougias. Looks like he got into a bit of a fight with some police (not sure who exactly was involved / the target of it all), even had his shirt ripped and handcuffs put on before he had the chance to leave the pitch. Ah Greece, I guess you can’t have a game go by without some incident going on.
In other news, there’s been a whole bunch of talk lately regarding transfers. I’m not sure when it will be a done deal, but I remember last week we were supposedly close to signing Dutch keeper Erwin Mulder, a player I hadn’t seen much of but from some highlights on youtube, he looks like he’d be a more than adequate keeper to pick up. Hopefully I’ll hear some more news regarding him in the coming days.
We’ve also been linked with some other players recently, including Orlando Sa. His name has been mentioned on and off for the past six months, not sure if anything will come of it but he seems like he’d be a decent player to sign if we can get him fairly cheap. We’ve also been hearing Van Der Vaart’s name recently, a player who I think would definitely have the potential to stand out on our team and in our league. Sure he’s getting up there in terms of age, but the experience would definitely be a boost in my opinion. It comes down to the price for me though since if we can sign him for relatively cheap, then I’d say go for it. Otherwise, if what he’s asking for starts getting pretty high, then really I’d think we were better off spending the money on someone else, maybe someone younger with a lot of potential (I’m thinking a signing along the lines of someone like Scocco if we can manage that).
Simoes, the Portuguese midfielder we signed over the winter, arrived in Athens just a few hours ago. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do, and I’m hoping having two Portuguese players on the squad will help boost not only Simoes’ performances, but it might also help out Barbosa too.
As Julio Cesar himself said, we’re back at the top!
(I cant help but appreciate Cesar’s passion for this team, even after having left so many years ago)
Its been an eventful two years, and two years which really should have never happened. But it was inevitable, and I think in the long run we’ll be better off because of the two years we spent away from the Superleague.
I know our promotion was never in doubt, not once since the moment we fell in April of 2013, but its still a wonderful feeling being back where we belong. Its also bittersweet, since as great as it is to be back, I’m afraid that the league really hasn’t cleaned up one bit since we left. Will that change once Melissanidis has a say? Only time will tell, but all I know is that if our management is as serious as they want to seem, then the AEK of next season and after will be a very different team from the one that fell two years ago. And by that I mean not only in terms of players, but also the fact that a lot of that negative history that was holding us back has now left, and instead what we have is essentially a clean slate.
Our promotion today was of course thanks to our 1-0 win against Iraklis in OAKA. Yet another disappointing match, but at least we got the job done and can now finally take a deep breath.
I know this hasn’t been the best AEK we’ve ever seen, but Dellas, the team, and management deserve credit for getting us where we are. A lot of our players could have potentially played with Superleague teams this season, but instead chose to stick with us knowing that one day soon it would be worth it, and I’m certainly glad they did.
Needless to say, nothing is over yet. Sure we’ve made it back to the top, but its only really now that things really start to get going. We still desperately need some new signings in quite a few positions, we need some sort of a plan, some sort of vision, and a management team that is ambitious and not afraid to hold back. That doesn’t mean to play it risky, as we have in the past, but we can’t hold back either. The fact that we made it back to the first division means nothing at the end of the day if we aren’t going to be challenging for the championship. No matter what has happened before this moment, we are, and always will be, AEK.
Another disappointing performance from our team, even if we did manage to come away with the three points. I can’t lie, I really am surprised we’ve been seeing such poor football from the team, considering a good number of our players will know that these playoff matches will be their last chances to show they’re worth a spot on next season’s team.
As disappointing as our performance was, even more disappointing is the news regarding Bakakis’ injury. I’m not sure about the specifics yet, I read someone suggest it might be a torn ACL, but whatever it is, it seems like its serious. Not sure how long he’ll be out for, but I think its safe to say we wont see him again for the playoffs. Certainly not the best of news considering we’re also really missing Mantalos at the moment.
Our only goal was scored by Grontis after he latched on to a lose ball in the penalty area following Aravidis’ post. MVP of the match was, unsurprisingly, Johansson. I really do hope we hold on to him for next season (not that I see any reason for us not to), he’s definitely a solid and reliable player to have in our midfield.
Not really related to the match itself, but an amusing video from the press conference (I particularly like that Dellas even told Eleftheropoulos to sit in the seat from which he ended up falling off of):