Drifting AEK sacks Spanish coach

Making an about turn on what appeared to be a serious effort for a lasting relationship with its coach, AEK reportedly fired Spaniard Lorenzo Serra Ferrer yesterday after the club’s second consecutive Super League defeat over the weekend. A front-runner for the soccer season’s greatest part, AEK has now dipped to third place, four points behind leader Panathinaikos. The Athens team has lost six of its last 12 games. The Spaniard’s assistant, Nikos Kostenoglou, a former AEK player, will lead the club tonight in its third-round, first-leg UEFA Cup home tie against Spanish team Getafe. AEK had not issued an official statement confirming the sacking last night. Also there do not seem to be any plans for Ferrer’s replacement. Early reports yesterday noted that the interim coach could stay for the season’s remainder. Indicating that this was a club-coach bond that stood the chance of lasting – a rarity amid the dominantly fickle nature of Greek soccer – AEK had extended the 54-year-old Ferrer’s contract last May for an additional four years. It was due to expire at the end of this season. Ferrer joined AEK in 2006 from Real Betis. He also briefly coached Barcelona and had spent eight seasons at Mallorca. A firm believer in rotation policy, Ferrer’s starting lineups and substitution policy were unpredictable at AEK. In other UEFA Cup third-round, first-leg action tonight, Panathinaikos is hosted by Glasgow Rangers. The return legs, where berths for the competition’s Round of 16 will be determined, are scheduled for February 21.