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Sollied’s end expected today

Shunning local media reports over the festive season that predicted his premature end as Olympiakos coach, Norwegian Trond Sollied returned to Athens yesterday afternoon from his Christmas holiday break at home with the intention of resuming training sessions. But the Norwegian did not lead yesterday’s training session and a meeting between Sollied and the Greek club’s vice president Giorgos Louvaris was rescheduled for today after the team’s coach demanded his lawyer’s presence. Sollied’s contract with Olympiakos is expected to end at today’s meeting. Rumors of Sollied’s impending removal as Olympiakos coach have abounded in recent weeks ever since the Piraeus club’s dismal failure in European club-level competition this season. Last week, right after Sollied had taken off for an end-of-year break in Norway, Takis Lemonis, a former player and coach at Olympiakos, resigned abruptly from his coaching post at Xanthi, just weeks after his arrival there, which immediately prompted rumors of the Norwegian’s end at the Piraeus team. Lemonis has not been officially hired, but a deal – probably as interim coach until the end of this season – reportedly lies just a step before official announcement. Interestingly, Olympiakos’s next game will be at Xanthi. Reports have already said that Lemonis, who walked in and out of Xanthi’s club door within weeks, would skip that encounter as a safety precaution. Fans and the administration at Xanthi, one of provincial soccer’s more organized and ambitious clubs, were deeply offended by Lemonis’s unexpected departure, which was announced right after a Greek Cup win for a quarterfinals berth. While in Norway, Sollied, whose two-year contract with Olympiakos expires at the end of this season, said he was aware of the media reports about his future but said he would be back in Greece as scheduled to recommence work with his players. Asked for an opinion yesterday after arriving at Athens airport, Sollied remained tight-lipped, reiterated his stance on knowing nothing about the club’s coaching issue, and offered Olympiakos fans his wishes for the new year. In postponing yesterday’s meeting with the club’s deputy because he was not sided by his lawyer, Sollied will be better prepared for today’s session where he will push for maximum compensation as a result of the expected premature end to his contract. Reports said Sollied would receive a -1 million fee as compensation. Over the past decade, Olympiakos has failed to transform its domestic dominance into success in Europe. This season, Olympiakos ended last in its Champions League group. Highlighting the irrationality behind Greek soccer, Lemonis, who seems set to take over, also failed as Olympiakos coach in Europe. His first tenure, which lasted nearly two years, bore no fruit in Europe. Now, judging by the developments, he seems headed back to Olympiakos, where he would be charged with the job of rectifying Sollied’s shortcomings in Europe, a goal he could not accomplish the first time around.