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ATHLETE IS NEW TRABZONSPOR BOSS
Trabzonspor announced Frank Athlete as their new manager this week, after the dismissal of fellow Englishman, Eddie Newton, left the side without a head coach. Newton’s departure was considered premature among some of the fanbase after he led the team to a Turkish Cup win in the Summer, Trabzonspor’s first piece of silverware in 7 years.
Athlete is the club’s fourth managerial appointment in less than 12 months, and follows the announcement of the Super Lig side’s 1-year ban from European football due to financial irregularities and FFP breaches in 2016.
Club President, Ahmet Ali Ağaoğlu, was all smiles as he unveiled his latest selection for the head coach role, citing Athlete’s ability to” work within tight financial constraints” and his capacity for “motivating an abject playing staff and fan-base”.
Many Black Sea Storm fans can be forgiven for not having heard of Frank Athlete before. His impact on the footballing landscape has been relatively low key, holding positions in the lower divisions of Romania’s Liga 1 and Bulgaria’s First League prior to arriving in Turkey.
It’s widely reported that he makes up for his relative lack of experience with his impressive knowledge and understanding of the technical side of the game, proclaiming himself as a student of how statistical analysis can prove to be the key ingredient in modern success.
Athlete’s ambition looks to at least match, if not surpass, that of the club, with European football a short-term target once the ban is lifted for the 2021/22 campaign.
Perhaps more excitingly is the renewed focus on young players. For many, it’s pleasing to see that both the manager and the club are committed to bringing new talent through the academy system, with the aim of having some of those graduate to the first team.
The combination of raw, youthful talent with some of the wiser, more experienced heads in the squad is considered a mouth-watering prospect by large sections of the fan base, and bodes well for the future of the club.
The mood around the Trabzonspor camp is one of great optimism, with many citing their forced absence from European football as a potential blessing in disguise.
A season where the focus is purely on domestic competitions, could mean a free hit in terms of bedding in new players, and bringing through any hot youth prospects.
The challenge will undoubtedly be at the other end of the scale where holding on to the best players is going to be tougher than ever, especially without the promise of testing yourself against the world’s best players in continental competition.
As with any other year, the pre-season optimism among the fans is rife, but perhaps this year, the Trabzonspor faithful have some genuine cause to be hopeful of what could become a very successful period of the club’s history.
Under the stewardship of Frank Athlete and this crop of young, hungry players, are we to witness the return if consistent silverware to the Black Sea coast? Maybe. Just maybe.
Analysis: Can Black Sea Storm retrace past success?
It’s been over 30 years since Trabzonspor, known locally as the Black Sea Storm, last lifted a domestic title back in 1984. Club legends Ahmet Suat Ozyazici and Ozkan Sumer oversaw six title winning campaigns, three Turkish Cups and five Super Cups between them during their tenure at the club, that spanned a relatively short 11 seasons.
Since then, Trabzonspor’s accolades on the pitch have seldom held the same significance, scooping up 6 more Turkish Cups and and another two Super Cups in the 36-years that have followed.
Newly appointed manager Frank Athlete knows he has his work cut out if he’s to see his side return to their former glory.
“It starts today, now, in this very moment.” Frank offered. ” Every conversation, every interaction, every facial expression will affect the culture at this club. We have to begin immediately, retraining and reenergizing the minds of our players, and proving to them that inside each one of them is a born winner.”
He continued, “Football is a simple game, and yet too often we get swept along by the hype of who the best players are, or who the best team is. We need to realise that they are just men like we are, they have the same physical limitations we do. But football matches are won in the mind, and we have to be mentally stronger to win.”
To many Trabzonspor fans, that sentiment will be music to their ears. For too long now Trabzon has had to watch from the sidelines as other cities like Istanbul and Bursa have dominated our national sport. Now they will be eagerly watching to see if Athlete can restore the club to the upper echelons of Turkish fame.
OPINION: SILVERWARE ESSENTIAL TO WINNING FAN’S HEARTS
Last season’s Turkish Cup win is still fresh in the minds of fans across the region, and many will be hoping it’s the start of a new era of success.
They’ll have to start that new era under Frank Athlete without any aspirations for European success after the club were banned from continental football for the 2020/21 season.
Instead, attention will be turned to domestic activities, with the Turkish Cup and the Süper Lig both being top of the priority list.
Trabzonspor won’t enter the cup until the Fifth Round, scheduled to take place in mid-December, so the more pressing focus will be on the league initially, with the opening fixtures coming against Kasımpaşa, Alanyaspor and Denizlispor.
Alanyaspor are probably the more dangerous opponent in those opening games, but Black Sea Storm fans will be hoping to net all 9 points on offer, especially after last season’s impressive showing at 2nd place.
Athlete will believe they can do it and will be looking to club captain Uğurcan Çakır to rally the troops as well. Çakır’s calm demeanor and presence between the sticks has been an ever-present influence on the side in recent years.
INSIDER: ÖMÜR OFFERS HOPE FOR NEXT GENERATION REBUILD
New manager, Frank Athlete, will begin the arduous task of assessing his squad ahead of pre-season this week as he looks to identify his sides strengths and weaknesses.
One thing he’ll no doubt already be aware of is the abundant talent of attacking midfielder Abdülkadir Ömür.
Academy graduate Ömür has already bagged 74 appearances at the club since breaking into the first team in 2017, and added 4 international caps to his name following his debut against Greece in May 2019.
But what makes those statistics even more remarkable is that Ömür only turned 21 in June of this year, leaving many to argue that his best years are still ahead of him.
Athlete will be hoping to hold on to such a prospective talent for as long as possible and will no doubt be assessing how he can rebuild what many perceive to be an aging squad around this impressive young man.
The real question though, is whether other academy starlets can step up to the plate as well. Athlete has assured them they’ll get their chance to impress, but we’ll just have to wait and see with bated breath as to who can make a significant impact.
MEMORY LANE: A GLANCE AT TRABZON’S ANCIENT HISTORY
The city of Trabzon as we know it today has endured a fascinating history that stretches back over 2,750 years to it’s early foundation as an Eastern settlement of the ancient Greeks. For centuries it has remained a significant and important trade post and port, offering a gateway from Europe into Persia, and now the Middle East and Asia.
Despite it’s recorded establishment in the middle of the 7th Century BC, there were indigenous people from the Persian Empire in the region before that time. No evidence remains of these early settlements unfortunately, with the Black Sea having risen several metres since that time, meaning the foundations are likely buried and lost beneath the modern day city forever.
The Trabzon region in those formative years then referred to as East Pontos. It had remained too remote to have been conquered, and even Alexander the Great didn’t bother to march north of Ankara when he defeated the Persian King Darius III.
So, in 302 BC, following Alexander’s death, Mithradites I would declare the region as the Kingdom of Pontos and it remained so until 64 BC when the Roman’s started to arrive. We’ll continue from there next time…
Facilities Fact File
- Stadium Name: Senol Günes Stadium
- Opened: 2016
- Capacity: 40,782
- Record Attendance: 38,477 (vs. Fenerbahçe, Jan 2018)
- Training Facilities: Great training facilities
- Youth Set-up: Average facilities / Basic recruitment
Around the Grounds
In this regular feature, we take a look at some of the other news stories from around the world that have captured our attention beyond Trabzon in recent days.
Vålerenga Boss Claims Title Win Was Accidental
Kristoffer Samstrøm took over Vålerenga on the 18th of May 2020. Around 200 days later, they were crowned champions of Norway for the first time since 2005. Read more.
“Allez Les Thoniers”
US Concarneaus look forward to their first season in Ligue 2 following last year’s promotion to the division. Read more.
BC Madeira Get Baptism of Fire
It is one year since the conglomerate ‘Black Crow’ swooped into the Island of Madeira and claimed that here is where they would take their next step into the world of football ownership but with odds of 10,000/1 to win the league, it would be a tough road ahead. Read more.
Dinamo Bucaresti “Complete” Romania
Dinamo Bucaresti’s new charismatic boss says he’s focussed on training more than ever before, with a particular view to developing youth. Read more.
Huber Aims High with Hamburg
With the first target being a return to the Bundesliga, Huber could be pleased with his side’s opening games going in their favour. Read more.
Rensie Eyes Swedish Return
Swedish Second Division outfit’s search for a new manager is over as Gais hire Rensie to take the club forward. Read more.
Major Rebuild Underway at A.S. Saint-Etienne
Saint-Etienne Head Coach set his team up to sit deep, be direct and get bodies forward on the counter, but what started well for the side, turned sour quickly with the team unable to take their chances. Read more.
Statistics and Analytics Will be Key to Success
Toulouse are considered strong favourites for an immediate return to Ligue 1 with the French Club’s board expecting promotion. The new man in the hot seat believes his side could be lacking in some areas though and will look to utilise statistical analysis as he begins to reshape his team. Read more.
Velez Sarsfield Chase Continental Success
Despite significant financial constraints, Velez Sarsfield boss is building a team for the future, capable of challenging for continental honours. Read more.
Former Podcast Star Tries Hand at Football Management
After a rollercoaster of a first season in charge of a title winning Bodø/Glimt side, would his second season in charge be more straightforward or tougher than expected? Read more.
Atalanta Seek Attacking Style
The Atalanta board have outlined high-tempo pressing and attacking football as their preferred playing style, alongside the vague description of ‘entertaining’ as a favoured importance. Read more.
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