Panathinaikos AO – 2026/27 Season Review
I think I may have been too harsh on the lads.
For all that I talked with Jesse and Zlatan about how lucky we were to get past Juventus and United, and needed to dip into the transfer market…the reality is that the lads did us proud.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t go looking at the market. I’m not an idiot.
At least, I’m not that big of an idiot.
We brought in Zarate as a libero, allowing Susnjar to move back into the midfield…the Bosnian seems to have so much promise, but he needs to start developing.
Jork’s imminent arrival has many in the media skeptical, especially since our squad has so many attack-minded midfielders. He’s a brilliant talent, although we’ve had to send the marketing staff to sensitivity and sexual harassment training twice since his transfer was confirmed.
Beyond that, we’ve looked at many players. Went after a few, each of whom opted to go elsewhere for a bigger paycheck…none of whom would have been an immediate upgrade in quality. At the end of the day, the oldest player in the squad is Vagias, who is only 22.
What these lads need is time. Even I can accept that, now, away from the heat of the moment.
What a year. Beyond any of my expectations. And, I have to admit that I was a little hasty in dismissing the quality of the squad. They’re a bunch of kids. My frustrations were misplaced.
I really did look hard at a number of players, some of whom were quite appealing…but there aren’t upgrades to be found unless we’re willing to spend more than $20M to bring in someone in their mid-twenties. And that’s not the type of signing I want to make. The young players I was looking at aren’t any better than what we’ve got.
Zarate is a big upgrade and, if his potential holds true and he can develop…he’ll be an absolute beast at libero. Jork will arrive in January…I have high hopes for him, although we do have a ton of attack-minded central midfielders.
The biggest “transfer” news of the summer, though, has been that most of our first team has renewed their contracts, despite interest from elsewhere. That increase in reputation thanks to our European exploits is paying huge dividends. The “it’s like a new signing” thing may be a cliché, but it’s true for a club in a smaller nation – being able to keep a player like Mejri or Baran for another year, means everything. I typically anticipate a 5-6 year process to build a club like Panathinaikos into a Champions League contender. We’re 1-2 years ahead of schedule right now. Anything can happen going forward
Goals for 2027/28: Win the SuperLeague. Make a run in the Champions League knockout rounds. Start managing on the international level, if an eligible nation opens up and looks like a “fit.”
Ok, let’s take a quick look around Europe before we go further…
In the Champions League, Ernesto Valverde’s Bayern beat (Arsenal legend) Unai Emery’s Manchester City on penalties.
In the Europa League, Marcelo Gallardo’s Chelsea triumphed over Cristiano Ronaldo’s Club Brugge.
In the Europa Conference League, Raul Valbuena’s Sevilla claimed the title, beating regen-led PSV.
In the active leagues, Antonio Conte’s Manchester United won their first Premier League title in the post-SAF era. Diego Simeone’s Barcelona won their 4th straight La Liga title. Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus, Valverde’s Bayern, and Thomas Tuchel’s PSG did their usual thing. urCristiano’s Club Brugge knocked Genk off of their perch. Velicko Kaplanovic’s Čukarički disrupted the usual state of affairs in Serbia. Aaron Hunt’s BK Häcken claimed the 2026 Allsvenskan .
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 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?