This Is Panathinaikos

Panathinaikos AO – 2024/25 Season Review

The flight back from Manchester passes in a blur. The alcohol and adrenaline are flowing like cheap red wine…and we’ve got a fair amount of that, too.

Zlatan and Jesse are on the karaoke machine with the lads. Their rendition of Living on a Prayer was epic, to say the least.

But the poetry of the lyrics struck me…we’re halfway there? We aren’t halfway there. Champions of Greece, certainly. Europa Conference League winners, against all odds, no doubt. But the true prize, the Champions League? We’re a long ways off from scaling those heights.

Change is inevitable. We must refresh, renew. The sentiment of this moment cannot be allowed to dictate the path forward. Decisions must be made.

Sokratis Dioudis…8 years and more than 200 appearances for the club? He’s out of contract at the end of June, and has already been told it won’t be renewed. The Etihad was his triumphant swan-song, a going away party. Young Jónsson is ready and has a bright future. He needs to be in the spotlight. Bekris is arriving from Panionios to deputize…the first of three Greek youngsters to arrive.

Diego Gonzalez has only been with us for 2 years, but his time has come as well. A steady hand, but youth is the calling of the day in Athens. We need to look to the horizon and what this side will be in 3 years’ time.

The same can be said for Dany Mota, who at the age of 27 is agitating for a big contract or a move to a bigger side. It will have to be the latter. Lleshi is every bit his equal, 10 years his junior and will arrive in a few weeks.

Dickmann…a fan-favorite…unless a suitable offer arrives, he’ll finish out his contract and split time with Schou.

Sourtis has already been up to see me three times during the flight about a move abroad. The arrogance of youth. He can’t even get into this side, and is more trouble than he’s worth. We’ll gladly move him on. If our price is met. If not…well, there’s always that optional extension clause that he seems to have forgotten.

I chuckle to myself as the plane makes its final descent into Athens. Thousands of green-clad supporters await. This moment is their moment, and they should enjoy it to the fullest. Our responsibility now is to take them to the next level.

As Jesse would say, “the Champions League is coming.” I think one of the wizards on that Games on Thrones show he’s always watching says that. I’ll have to ask him.

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What a year. Taking home the SuperLeague title was a nice surprise. Truth be told, it was about a year ahead of schedule and can be chalked up in good part to Olympiacos’ domestic inconsistency.

The Europa Conference League campaign was utterly epic, with a final against Chelsea that will long live in my memory. It had everything. I’m still buzzing. Again, I cannot emphasize enough just how much I love the Europa Conference League.

All told, the save is in a brilliant place. The squad is coming together, the tactics are clicking…I couldn’t ask for much more in terms of how we’re doing.

But there’s one thing that doesn’t feel quite right yet, from the broader perspective.

The narrative component to the save is in my head, but not translating to the blog format as much as I’d like. This is a structural problem, given how I’ve set up the updates in transitioning from the forums. So, I’m going to make a tiny change.

Instead of 2-3 blog posts per season (pre-season, mid-season and a season review), I’m going to do two: (1) an “open thread” post that will be updated as the season progresses, with in-game screenshots/mini-updates, narrative non-sequitors and other shenanigans; and (2) the standard “season review” post, which covers everything in-game, while also moving the narrative along. In short, I’ve simply felt that some of the narrative portions of what will be included in the “open threads” has been missing. Fingers crossed that it works as intended.

Alright, that’s enough chit-chat. Let’s get to the pretty pictures.

Goals for 2025/26: Win the SuperLeague. Qualify for the Europa League knockout rounds, from the Champions League Group Stage. Start managing on the international level, if an eligible nation opens up and looks like a “fit.”

European Review

Of course, before we can move on, we need to see what else happened in Europe…

In the Champions League, Paulo Fonseca’s Roma cast aside the “Nearly Men” moniker in extra time, thanks to a 96th-minute Jesse Lingard goal, which prevented Pep Guardiola’s Liverpool from winning their third-straight title.

In the Europa League, Jose Mourinho’s Arsenal beat Julian Nagelsmann’s Inter, 1-nil. 

The Europa Conference League is covered in some detail already, but let’s glance at the overview anyways.

And in the active leagues…Diego Simeone’s Barcelona claimed their 2nd straight title in Spain.  Unai Emery’s Man City won the Premier League.  Maurizio Sarri’s Juve, Valverde’s Bayern, and Thomas Tuchel’s PSG did their usual things. Stanislav Genchev’s Genk defended their Jupiler Pro League, while Dragan Stojkovic’s Crvena zvezda remain dominant in Serbia.  And, finally, Kim Hellberg’s Hammarby claimed the Allsvenskan title.

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Save/Challenge Overview

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?


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