When I first took the reigns at AEK Athens, they had not seen Champions League football for many years, at least not in the group stages. The primary goal when taking over was evident; break the dominance of Olympiakos, who had won the league in 18 of the past 20 seasons. The secondary goal was to establish Champions League football. The revenues to follow would be the foundation for developing the youth and training facilities to make AEK a self-sufficient and profitable club. At the time of joining Olympiakos had a player earning more than £60k p/w, while my top earner was on a third of that.
However, what has any of this to do with the contain mentality? Well, we were building a squad for domestic dominance. We could not possibly think about European dominance in the short term. With the prize money in the Champions League linked to success, we needed a system that would allow us to hold our own; especially considering a draw in a Group Stage match would pay our players salaries for a week. (more…)