It’s taken six years to get the club to this point. An undefeated campaign in domestic competitions has been rewarded with a league and cup double, and a place in the Champions League qualifiers. A new supremacy in Greek football has developed, which has seen us establish ourselves as the new team to beat in Greece. We claimed the Superleague title with a comfortable 12 point lead, winning 23 of our 30 fixtures. Olympiakos are no longer the big name in Greece!
A confident 3-0 dismantling of AEK Athens in the Greek Cup final was the icing on the cake this season. It’s been our most successful competition in recent years with three trips to the final in three years, twice lifting the cup.
From a club with scarcely any funding we’re now considered ‘rich’, with around £40M in the bank. Signing young talent for small fees or free transfers, and developing academy prospects whilst selling the occasional player for a healthy profit, has been a sound financial model for us. We’re rich because we’re responsible with our budgeting and wages, and because we’re becoming a regular outfit in the Champions League group stages.
For all of our domestic success it’s Europe where we’ve disappointed, making the least amount of progress. Having broken into the Champions League in the last couple of seasons we’ve been picked apart by Europe’s elite clubs. Finally, this time around, we’ve made some progress by squeezing our way out of a challenging Group D. A mammoth 1st knockout round clash against Real Madrid followed. This was probably the biggest game in our history and a proud moment. Having expected to get a thorough doing-over, we performed admirably over a very close two legged affair. An ageing galactico squad reaffirmed their experience and know-how to edge us out 3-3 on away goals. Defeat aside, we can feel confident going into our next European venture with the knowledge that we’re now capable of giving the top sides a game too.
The fans do love Mason Bennett! It’s the second year in a row he’s been voted Fans’ Player of the Season, and he’s not even a first choice regular. Since losing his spot in the starting 11 he’s been a reliable backup however.
I must admit I have a soft spot for him too, he scored 21 goals in my first season at Aris some 5 seasons ago. Those goals were the single biggest contributor in our promotion to the Greek Superleague. He’s an Aris legend now and only 452 days away from gaining Greek nationality. I think it would be the perfect end to his career if he could walk out with his adopted national side.
I’ve rewarded his loyalty with a new contract that will see him stay at Aris past his 30th birthday, and maybe there’ll be a place for him on the coaching team after that, you never know.
The big name to join Aris this summer is newgen, Mark Haviland, from Man Utd. The Scottish wonderkid striker gives us two top class strikers to choose between, but also offers a security blanket in case someone decides to meet Tissera’s £8M buyout clause. Haviland is with us on a two year loan deal and can’t be recalled.
Left-back, Tony Gallagher, sees his loan deal turn permanent after a £2.7M deal was agreed with Norwich. The defence is bolstered further by exciting young Japanese international and centre-back, Tôru Chino. He joins from FC Hiroshima for £1.8M.
A couple of loan deals add some depth on the wings including a player from my Greek national squad – Takis Tzavellas, from Napoli.
I’ve also purchased a few young Greek players who look to have high potential for development. If the opportunities arise I’ll try to give these players a run out in the first team.
This year was all about the World Cup and after a shaky start, losing our first qualification game to Poland, we resurrected our qualifying campaign with 8 wins out of 10. This secured top stop in the group and guaranteed a place at the 2020 World Cup in Canada. Lovely.
Initially I was quite pleased with our World Cup draw. A tough ask against Brazil left two winnable fixtures against Cape Verde and South Korea, both of whom we outranked in the world rankings.
We followed up a predictable defeat to Brazil with two big wins, securing our spot in the knockout stages of the competition. At this point, we’d already surpassed expectations. That was as far as we’d go as a Marcus Rashford brace finished us off in a 3-1 defeat to England.
The eventual winners, Portugal, lifted the World Cup after beating France 3-1 in the final. My lead striker, Dimitris Diamantakos, finished as the competitions third top goalscorer (with 4 goals) behind Antoine Griezmann (5) and André Silva (6). Not bad at all considering he only played in four games. A number of Aris players featured in the Greek World Cup squad and made a big contribution in a relatively successful trip to Canada.
August 2021 (pre season)
Qualified for the Champions League Group Stage, knocking out Sheriff (Moldova) and Basel (Switzerland) in the qualifiers.
Given £10.93M for being in the Champions League Group Stage.
Greece qualify for the 2022 World Cup by topping Group 1 in the qualifiers.
Aris qualify for the Champions League qualifying rounds by winning the Greek Superleague.
Mauro Tissera’s 32 goals is a new record number of goals in a season for Aris (beating Mason Bennett’s 28 goals in 2016).
Aris finish the season unbeaten in all domestic competitions.
Aris do the double by winning the Greek Cup.
Aris become the most reputable club in Greece, overtaking Olympiakos.
The average attendance of 15,639 (previously 12,904) is a new Aris record.