SPORTS

Narrow wins but no grace

There is no doubting Panathinaikos’s drastically improved rank in the first division of Greek soccer over recent weeks, but fans and officials at the club have begun expressing concern over the team’s series of narrow, and far from convincing, victories. Undefeated since the reappointment of Armenian-Uruguayan Sergio Markarian as coach several rounds ago, Panathinaikos has shot up from last to third place within eight rounds, and is within reach of frontrunner Olympiakos, the defending champion. But a string of nail-biting 1-0 victories has prompted distress. In nine league and cup games since Markarian’s return – he also spent a brief tenure at the club last season – Panathinaikos has not conceded a single goal. The team has also advanced to the UEFA Cup’s fourth round. But Panathinaikos’s standard of play has remained far below the level expected by fans. Calls by them for new signings have intensified over recent days, but the root of the club’s problem stems not from the roster, which is formidable, but from lack of team playing. Markarian, who has placed too much emphasis on getting results at the cost of performance quality, needs to take this into account and reorganize his manpower to bring grace back into Panathinaikos’s game.