SPORTS

Anastasiou eager to usher in new era at Panathinaikos

Yiannis Anastasiou was officially unveiled as the new Panathinaikos coach on Tuesday and said the club needed to develop their own philosophy rather than copy models from abroad in order to recover from a shock sixth-place finish this term.

Anastasiou, 40, has been given the task of trying to restore the fortunes of the Athens club after a season of struggle financially and on the pitch.

The former Greece international, whose appointment was announced on April 24, replaces Yiannis Vonortas, who will return to coaching the academy youth side after acting as caretaker coach for the final few weeks of the season.

“It’s a great honor and responsibility to be given this chance, the goal of the club is to operate at the highest European level and to do this the club must use its own philosophy, not something based on other foreign clubs in England or Germany,» Anastasiou told a news conference.

“You will not hear any big, blown-up statements from me or my colleagues,» he added. «We want to become better and develop in all areas as a club. We know that a lot of hard work is required and we are ready for it

“All we can promise is that we will maximise our hours out on the training pitches to do the best we can to improve the team.”

Anastasiou’s support team will feature former Panathinaikos and Greece legend Dimitris Saravakos, former Greece international Nikos Dabizas and Englishman Steve Rutter, the former coach education manager at the Football Association (FA) in England.

Anastasiou, who had a successful playing career in Greece, the Netherlands and Belgium, was assistant coach at Panathinaikos from 2008-10 under Dutch coach Hen Ten Cate and was first-team coach at English Premier League side Reading from January to March this year.

He faces a challenging assignment after Panathinaikos went through four coaches in a dreadful campaign and failed to qualify for Europe for the first time since 1997.

Vonortas was in charge for the final tfour matches, having followed Spanish coach Fabri, Argentine Juan Ramon Rocha and Portuguese boss Jesualdo Ferreira.

The season was supposed to be the start of an optimistic new chapter under fan ownership after the transfer of the Vardinoyiannis family’s majority shareholding to the new ‘Panathinaiki Alliance’ was completed last year.

However, under president Yiannis Alafouzos, the club has continued to struggle financially and were forced to sell several Greece internationals such as Costas Katsouranis, Loukas Vintra, Nikos Spiropoulos and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos.

To make matters worse, arch-rival Olympiakos Piraeus wrapped up its 40th league title with embarrassing ease in mid-March while Panathinaikos finished 37 points behind its neighbors after its worst season on record.

[Reuters]