The Three Years of Master Pedro
April 9, 2018 – It might seem like eons ago in the fast-paced sports world but truth be told it has only been 1095 days. Rewind back to that Monday morning and you will notice things looked bleak in Piraeus. Olympiakos was completing their most disappointing season since 1995-96 and things looked like they were going to get worse before getting any better.
Evangelos Marinakis knew that he needed to make radical changes to his football club. Hiring a coach with a vision was the first change. Martins, who’s managerial resumé hardly impressed anyone, was going to start working immediately. He travelled with the team and looked on from Marinakis’s suite. Nearly one month later, he must have been asking himself: “What the heck did I get myself into?”. The Legend had suffered a 3-0 defeat at Zosimades Stadium against PAS Giannina. Enter: Rock Bottom.
A visibly angry Marinakis showed up at Renti Training Grounds the next day and called the players worthless. “I will change all of you if I have to. Some of you aren’t even worthy of being toilet paper”.
With the addition of some transfers in the Summer of 2018, Martins began creating a nucleus that the team would need to once again compete for Greek silverware. This coach was firm, but he was fair. You had the feeling from the get-go that cliques would not be tolerated and only the players who worked hard would be compensated with playing time.
In his first season, Martins had an overall record of 34 wins, 8 draws and 7 losses in 49 games. The highlight of the season was undeniably a massive 3-1 victory over AC Milan in the last matchday of the Europa League group stages. The win knocked out the Italian giants and sent the Erythrolefki to the Final 32 of the competition. Unfortunately, a disappointing 3-1 loss at Toumba Stadium against PAOK coupled with a shocking 0-1 loss at home against Lamia in the Greek Cup Quarter-Final meant that Olympiakos would have a second consecutive trophy-less season. Nevertheless, the seeds were planted. The ship was slowly turning in the right direction.
During the 2019-20 season, Martins was fully aware that anything but a Greek Championship would most likely cost him his job. During the 2018-19 season, Marinakis had shown unprecedented (for his standards) patience. The media was calling for Martins’s head in October of 2018 after a 1-0 loss to OFI Crete set the Reds back 6 points from league leaders, PAOK. To his credit, the Olympiakos owner stuck with Martins and was ultimately rewarded. The Portuguese coach had an impressive second season with 40 wins, 11 draws and 8 losses in an unparalleled 59-game season! Some of the biggest highlights, of course, included the elimination of Arsenal in the Europa League Round of 32, the thrilling 0-1 regular season victory at Toumba Stadium, the Greek Cup Final victory against AEK and the nearly undefeated season (in 36 league games, the team suffered only one loss).
Despite the worldwide pandemic, Martins and his club didn’t miss a beat in 2020-21. The Thrylos has ran away with the Greek Championship, is currently in the final four of the Greek Cup and has extended the squad’s European obligations past the Christmas holidays for the third consecutive season.
Throughout the past few weeks, the Portuguese coach has been experimenting with different formations and various players. He in constantly ahead of the game with his planning and his work ethic is second-to-none.
Pedro Martins is a blessing for a Greek team. In 2021, Olympiakos are a well-oiled machine with elite scouting and consistency. Martins has aspirations to one day coach in England, therefore, no one is able to predict how much longer his stay in Piraeus will last. We all know that the alternative can sometimes be catastrophic – all we need to do is turn back the clock three years.
Happy Three Years, Pedro!