SPORTS

Michel says he comes to Reds with passion

By George Georgakopoulos

New Olympiakos manager Michel Gonzalez promised on Monday a new, more extrovert face for the Greek champion, after signing his two-and-a-half-year contract with the Reds.

In his official presentation in Piraeus, the former Real Madrid midfielder and Sevilla coach, pledged to “try and make the team a little more international than what it is, as befits a club such as Olympiakos, with so much successes [in the past].

“I will try to make the team a little better than it currently is. This is a challenge that I am passionate about,” said Michel.

Passion seems to be a key notion in Michel’s mind, as he kept referring to it during his presentation: “The fans’ ambitions are great, so I have come here to work with passion,” he said answering a question on why he has chosen Olympiakos. “I want to train my players as if they were my own children,” he added.

Michel may be replacing sacked Leonardo Jardim and taking over from caretaker Antonis Nikopolidis, who will be his assistant, but essentially Olympiakos wants Michel to pick the team up from where Ernesto Valverde left it last summer; hence the choice of a fellow Spanish manager of the same generation in Michel.

His presentation will also be remembered for the statement by president Vangelis Marinakis, who admitted his mistake in hiring Jardim. “Now Michel will put the players back to their positions,” he poignantly said.

The only question mark over Michel is how he will perform in his first job outside Spain, although given that the Greek league is all but won for the Reds already, his major challenge ahead is facing one or possibly two Spanish teams in the Europa League: Olympiakos will play Levante in the round of 32 and if it goes through it will meet the winner of the tie between Atletico Madrid and Zenit St. Petersburg.

That should make Michel feel at home despite coaching a non-Spanish team for the first time in his career.

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