Olympiakos hires Vitor Pereira as tearful Michel departs

Olympiakos announced on Wednesday the hiring of Portuguese manager Vitor Pereira, while his predecessor, Michel Gonzalez, issued a touching farewell 24 hours after surprisingly being shown the door.

Vitor Pereira made his name at Porto where he won two consecutive league titles in Portugal, but his flirting eith a Premiership job (at Everton, Newcastle United or Crystal Palace) never turned into marriage.

He is said to have agreed to a two-and-a-half-year contract with Olympiakos.

Michel, who took the Olympiakos helm in February 2013 and won two league titles and the 2013 Greek Cup, got sacked on Tuesday after being criticized for the team’s style of play this season and its failure to progress from the group stage of the Champions League.

“After leaving the training ground for the last time and saying goodbye to my players and employees of the club who for the last two years made me feel at home, I was unable to hold back some tears; I will miss you,» the 51-year-old Spaniard said in an open letter published on the Olympiakos website.

He added: «Soccer rarely notifies you early enough when you come and when you leave. I am leaving for my home, but a part of me will stay here. I was very happy here and I’ll take great memories with me.

“I leave impressed by the size of this club, the wonderful city of Athens, and from this country that embraced me and made me feel part of it. Also, I will never forget those nights at the Karaiskaki stadium and the unbelievable passion of the fans; my legs still shake when I think about their songs.”

Michel had penned a contract until June 2015, but despite his success – the team also reached the Champions League round of 16 last season – Greek media said Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis was unhappy with the team’s failure to play attractive soccer in the Super League. Olympiakos trails leader PAOK by one point after 16 matches.

[Kathimerini & Reuters]