A lightning-quick start sees us leading the pack with what’s developed in to a very healthy point’s gap. Currently unbeaten in the league it should be a matter of when, not if, we clinch the title and reclaim our place in the Greek Superleague (top division).
Our tactical approach has been focussed around a traditional Greek style of football; solid, structured, well organised and attentive to clean sheets and set pieces. You can learn more about how we’ve approached games this season in my Evolving a Greek Style of Football tactic. So far it’s paying dividends with no defeats and only four goals conceded. We’re the second highest scoring team in the league too, proving that defence isn’t our only strength, with the majority of our goals (9) coming from crosses.
Form saw me ditch the target man option for Mason Bennett (poacher) who, simply put, has been in scintillating form and picked himself on merit. Since his debut he’s been banging the goals in for fun and is comfortably our top scorer with 19 finishes.
Since challenging myself to develop a healthier squad of home-grown players I’ve sanctioned many scouting assignments to find the best Greek talent both home and abroad. It’s been a struggle to secure such deals however, with my first few signings coming via the foreign market. At least I was able to secure young players to help reduce the average age of the squad; Emir Dautovic (Slovenian defender) and Lamarana Diallo (Senegalese winger) join on free transfers. Mason Bennett and Harry Winks join the club on loan.
To make up for our failed attempts pre-season we managed to capture Greek legend Georgios Samaras in a January transfer swoop. With both international experience and quality attributes the journeyman is a massive coup for the club and still has a couple of years left to make his mark in Greek football, having spent most of his playing career abroad.
Whilst on the subject of home-grown players our stand-out Greek performer has been Manolis Tzanakakis, the right-back has performed to a consistently high level and contributed a good number of assists from the right flank.
Since the season start our debt has reached £2.5M and rising because of minimal income from gate receipts. With a stadium capacity of over 30,000 we’re only averaging around 4,000 during home fixtures. A couple of player sales, raising a few thousand pounds, has done little to help the situation. If we cannot secure Superleague football this season the club faces a genuine possibility of going into bankruptcy.
After suffering our first defeat in the Greek Cup to Superleague giants and league leaders Panathanikos, we’ve seen our league form sway slightly. A number of draws around January has reduced our points gap so we’ll need to get back to winning ways soon if we are to meet expectations and finish the season off as champions.
An ill-timed injury to Mason Bennett means that we’ll be without our talisman for much of the season remainder. Can Samaras fill the void and steer us towards the title, or will the Aris express to promotion be derailed?