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  • Manuel Meza

Has the ‘Mendilibar Effect’ Faded? Olympiacos' Rough Patch Beyond Their Coach



In the ever-evolving landscape of football management, José Luis Mendilibar's arrival at Olympiacos was met with a mixture of excitement and apprehension. The Spanish tactician, whose previous stint at Sevilla FC saw him orchestrate a remarkable turnaround, was tasked with reviving Olympiacos' fortunes both domestically and in Europe. However, the journey thus far has been far from smooth sailing.


Olympiacos' recent downturn in form can be encapsulated in a single week that turned into a nightmare for the club and its supporters. A demoralizing 1-3 defeat to Panathinaikos in the Athens derby followed by a disheartening 1-4 loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the UEFA Conference League Round of 16 has left Mendilibar and his team reeling. These defeats not only dent their title aspirations but also raise questions about the team's resilience and tactical acumen.


Mixed Reactions from Fans


All of this has sparked significant division among the fans of the Greek side, with some even calling for the dismissal of the Basque strategist. But is he really to blame? Mendilibar currently boasts 6 victories in 8 matches managed, including a resounding 1-4 triumph away at PAOK, and two UEFA Europa Conference League fixtures against Ferencvaros. All of this achieved within just a month of taking the reins at Olympiacos, without any signings requested by him.


The fans' reactions are not the issue and, in fact, are quite common in clubs that undergo frequent short-term changes. Yes, domestic and European titles can be won with short-term projects, as demonstrated by Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea or Hansi Flick's Bayern, but it is certainly not ideal. 


If a club aims to enhance its chances of winning titles and maintaining sustainable success in the long run, the ideal approach is precisely that – making decisions with long-term implications in mind. 


A giant club like Olympiacos should not operate solely in the short term, constantly changing coaches every 3 or 6 months, signing numerous players on loan without the guarantee of establishing a long-term vision, or acquiring players who failed to shine at the owner's other club, Nottingham Forest... Yes, we can point fingers at the coach and players, and they bear some responsibility, but Olympiacos cannot thrive unless it develops and implements a long-term sporting project.


Looking Ahead


As rumours swirl regarding Mendilibar's contract extension until the 2024-2025 season, Olympiacos finds itself at a crossroads. The club must decide whether to persist with Mendilibar and afford him the time and resources to implement his vision or succumb to the temptation of short-term fixes. Ultimately, the decision will shape Olympiacos' trajectory not only in the immediate future but also in the years to come.


In just a month, Mendilibar's tenure at Olympiacos has been marked by both promise and adversity. While recent setbacks have tested the resolve of the club and its supporters, there remains cause for optimism. Mendilibar, in a post-match press conference after Olympiacos' 1-3 defeat against Panathinaikos, looked forward to utilizing the upcoming break to regroup and prepare for future challenges, stating, "The good thing now is that we have no matches in two weeks and we have time to prepare with the international break. We still have the match against Maccabi, but then we'll have enough time to prepare... I believe there's still nothing lost."


With a renewed commitment to long-term planning and strategic foresight, Olympiacos can navigate through these turbulent waters and emerge stronger on the other side. Whether Mendilibar is the right man to lead the charge remains to be seen, but one thing is certain – the journey has only just begun.


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