PEDRO MARTINS SHOULDN’T LEAVE OLYMPIACOS AFTER EUROPA LEAGUE LOSS TO EINTRACHT FRANKFURT, BUT…
It happened again boys and girls, Olympiacos managed to put themselves through another stressful situation in the group stages of a European competition. After a dream start with two straight victories over Royal Antwerp and Fenerbahce, the Greek champions were looking to (kind of) emulate Panathinaikos’ feat from the 2001-2002 season when they won all of their first three matches in the Champions League group stage against Schalke, Mallorca and Arsenal.
If the Piraeus outfit had beaten Eintracht Frankfurt at least once then they would be looking at first place in Group D, which leads straight to the Europa League’s last-16. But that seems to be out of the table as they are now looking at a play-off encounter with a third-placed Champions League team as the best-case scenario. Can Olympiacos finish second? Can they then eliminate any potential opponent in the play-offs? Well, the simple answer is yes but it will all depend on various crucial factors that will mainly go down to one person. And that is Pedro Martins!
The two losses to Eintracht have brought us all to a football debate I dislike the most, should the manager go? Let’s make one thing clear, Martins is one of the greatest Olympiacos managers in the club’s history. Two Superleague titles, one Greek Cup and three qualifications to the Europa League play-offs during his almost four-year stint. As a sports journalist in the UK, I can tell you that many English football fans know and rate the Greek giants as a legit European side. Make no mistake about it, Premier League fans are among the hardest to win over. And that is mainly thanks to Martins.
Let’s make another thing clear, the Portuguese head coach is a LUXURY for Greek football. Olympiacos fans calling for his sacking are going to learn that the hard way if/when he leaves – I am not banking on Ernesto Valverde waiting with his bags packed at his doorstep.
BUT, does he still want this? Is he passionate about it? Does he want to move on? Imagine you just joined an exciting new job which poses as a major career step. It all starts great; you love every bit of it and you’re going from strength to strength. Success follows and so does public recognition from your peers. The years go by, and you inevitably peek, Groundhog Day has kicked in and you find yourself on auto pilot. You wake up one day and a little voice inside you tells you, it’s time for a change; you are better than this. But for some reason you can’t move on and thus you are stuck at the job you once adored but ultimately fell out of love.
Is that the state Martins has found himself in? The man has done and won everything he could with Olympiacos. I’m sure he’d like to win a European title but that’s about as likely as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson publicly admitting Brexit was a stupid idea – and yes, it was! The 51-year-old is an extremely talented manager that has turned into a big white shark in an inflatable swimming pool.
If Newcastle’s deal with Eddie Howe falls apart, like it did with Villarreal boss Unai Emery, and Amanda Staveley tables an offer to Martins then he is going to move to Tyneside faster than pink hair dye dries on Henry Onyekuru’s head.
Yes, Martins is responsible for the disappointing performances in Europe against Ludogorets and Eintracht. But he’s found himself in this rut before and successfully climbed out of it with a late comeback in previous years against the likes of AC Milan, Red Star Belgrade and PSV Eindhoven.
If history repeats itself and Olympiacos make it through to the Europa League play-offs, then it is important to have a sit-down with owner Evangelos Marinakis. If Martins wants to leave, then he should inform Marinakis of his decision so that the club can have more than enough time to find his replacement while the Portuguese gaffer runs down his contract until June.
But we still have a long season ahead and Martins should put his motivation to good use until the summer. In football everyone remembers how you started and how you continued, but they also never forget how you finish. The Olympiacos manager has achieved greatness in Piraeus, but seven months are more than enough for his stock to plummet and that is why he needs to pull his sleeves up to turn this sorry situation around. Martins’ legacy and future depends on how he finishes this season, that is why he really needs to qualify to the Europa League play-offs and win the double in Greece.