Under-pressure Greece coach Claudio Ranieri was publicly backed by Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) president Giorgos Sarris on Thursday amid doubts over the Italian’s future after his team’s dire start to the Euro 2016 qualifiers.
Ranieri, who has been in charge for three matches since succeeding the Portuguese Fernando Santos following the World
Cup, has come under intense scrutiny from the Greek media after a 2-0 home defeat by Northern Ireland in Athens on Tuesday.
The result left the Greeks, the 2004 European Champions, second bottom in Group F with just one point gleaned from their opening three games.
“In my personal opinion, he must stay,» Sarris told radio station NovaSpor FM.
Sarris and other EPO officials held a meeting with Ranieri following Tuesday’s miserable defeat at the Georgios Karaiskakis stadium, when the hosts were taught a harsh soccer lesson by a hungrier and more direct Northern Ireland side.
“It’s my understanding (from the meeting) that some of the players he had put his trust in, because of their experience and personalities, didn’t produce the expected level of performance that they are capable of. He felt very disappointed and let down by this and is thinking very differently now,» Sarris added.
Greece, who made it to the last 16 of the World Cup in Brazil before being eliminated on penalties by Costa Rica, still has time to turn things around.
There are seven matches remaining in qualifying and a good performance in their next game at home to the Faroe Islands on November 14 may ease some of the pressure on Ranieri.