Panathinaikos AO – December 2023
A little over six months into our tenure in Athens and we could not have asked for a better start.
Sure, the welcome wasn’t as warm as we’d hoped beyond a handful of people, but they’ve become a second family. The lads have begun to believe in themselves, and – more importantly – what it is that we’re trying to do on the pitch. My predecessor’s signings have largely fit into our plans, as have the youth we recruited. Young Mejri in particular…that lad is going places. It’s more a question of how long we can keep him, than whether he’s going to break out.
It’s early days, yet. We can’t get ahead of ourselves. If we can maintain this form and start to recruit more young, hungry players…this is a club that will go places.
That is, if I can get Jesse to focus. He’s just opened up a blog, starting up a campaign to have the Game of Thrones ending changed. He’s still mad about which dragon killed which wizard, I think.
As Nicolaj notes, we have every reason to be thrilled at this juncture of the save.
The side and tactics are clicking, for the most part. We’re playing 3 main tactics. The first two are PM Krigsherre and PM Laenket, the strikerless tactics I developed on the beta (detailed here). The third tactic is new, in response to the Board’s preference for a possession-based style. I’ve dubbed it PMK Tiki No Taco, since we’re not going to play Pep-approved tiki-taka with this squad. (Don’t worry, it is still a strikerless libero tactic.)
Over the next few days, I’ll post a full-blown tactical breakdown/analysis, with a ton of additional detail.
In terms of the squad, there’s a ton of work to be done. Where we were upon Bur’s arrival in June 2023 isn’t going to be anywhere good enough to get us to the Champions League Group Stage, much less beyond. I’m pleased with Lucio Carlos (a signing made by my predecessor), and managed to bring in a few tasty prospects: Aymen Mejri ($700k from CS Sfax; our leading goalscorer and starting shadow striker); Alexis Barán ($2.7M from Nacional; who I want to slot in as a mezzala); and Erwin Amberg ($1.1M from Basel; a libero in the making). Zacharias Gerakaris and Charalabos Sordis were the two best young prospects at the club, Tómas Aron Hreiðarsson is decent enough at this point.
Early indications are that our 2024 youth intake will be solid. I’m also out looking for players to scout and recruit…the Panathinaikos revolution is most certainly in full swing.
At the end of the day, though, it is all about the results. And our results speak for themselves:
Thus far I’ve played every match, usually tinkering within the 3 tactics to suit the moment, spending most of my time in PMK Tiki No Taco and PM Laenket. In the SuperLeague, we’ve scored 29 (2nd highest), conceding 11 (3rd best). Again, I plan to go into far more tactical detail (with downloads) over the weekend.
I’ve been rotating as a 26-man squad – 2 defined XIs with 4 youth prospects working with the 2nd XI. This is about a big a first team squad as I’m comfortable having, and am thankful that we have the Europa Conference League to ensure that players are getting enough time on the pitch (for the most part…).
Speaking of which, I just need to say (again)…I absolutely love the Europa Conference League. The Group Stage draw made me deliriously happy, after three brilliant qualifying rounds. The only frustration is that, if I’m going to have any “success” in the broader scope of this save, I won’t be playing in it very often.
That’s all for now. It’s time to press on into the Winter, with fingers crossed for the knockout round draw.
If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused… Don’t worry. The basic concept behind the Nearly Men save is explained here. Just need to catch up? Each installment in Nicolaj Bur’s story can be accessed through the Nearly Men Archive.
And if you just can’t get enough…join us for The Ballad of Toothless Bob, a series conceived and co-authored by Seattle Red and Oriole that explores the world of Nicolaj Bur, away from the pitch. What is Project Arcturus? What lies beyond the twisted redstone door, deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabéu?