SPORTS

The guillotine drops again

The former Soviet international Oleg Protasov was the latest coach to go at Olympiakos yesterday after the team surrendered its top spot in the Greek league to rival Panathinaikos last weekend. Sinisa Gogic, a former player with the club, was named as his replacement. Protasov, who guided the Piraeus club to its seventh consecutive league title last year – he was the fourth coach appointed during the season – kept the defending champion perched at the top of the current season’s standings for 16 rounds before last weekend’s slip following a home defeat against AEK. Panathinaikos, which defeated Panionios away, now leads by two points. Protasov spent a little over a year – 403 days to be exact – as coach of Oympiakos, which ranks as a considerable period of time given the position’s turbulent history ever since the club’s president, Socrates Kokkalis, took over in 1993. Gogic was the 18th man to be appointed Olympiakos coach since Kokkalis’s takeover of the club. On Monday, it was announced that Kokkalis had offered Dusan Bajevic, a former coach at the club, an attractive five-year deal, rated as too good to to refuse. Follow-up reports yesterday said that Bajevic, the country’s most respected and successful coach who has led Olympiakos to several league titles, asked for negotiations to be suspended for the summer inter-season period, as part of his policy of avoiding midseason takeovers. Of the 18 coaches hired by Kokkalis over the past decade or so, Bajevic holds the record for the longest time spent on the club’s bench, between June 20, 1996 and November 10, 1999. Most others were gone before they had even settled, including Protasov’s predecessor, the Slovenian Srcko Katanec, for instance, who led his national team to the World Cup finals in 2002 but apparently failed to meet the standards set by Kokkalis.