Is Grandad Aragones set to leave Fenerbahce?
Turks have nicknamed Luis Aragones “dede” or “granddad” since he became Fenerbahce coach last July – at first to convey the respect they’d show a wise and experienced elder, but nowadays to express their fury at a man they view as an incompetent geriatric.
Calls for his resignation have increased since Fenerbahce lost the Turkish Cup to bitter Istanbul rivals Besiktas last week. A victory could have sweetened Aragones’ severance package from his contract, but would no longer have saved his job, Turkish media said.
The 70-year-old Spaniard arrived in Turkey on a high, having just led Spain to victory in Euro 2008, their first major title in 44 years.
But his spell at Fenerbahce has gone from bad to worse. The Istanbul side, Champions League quarter-finalists in 2008, failed to reach the knockout stages of this season’s competition and finished bottom of their group with just two points.
With two matches left of the Turkish league, Fenerbahce languish in 5th, 10 points behind leaders Besiktas, and heading for their lowest league finish since 2003.
Aragones’ gruff manner and often lethargic mood pitchside have won him few friends in Turkey.
Club president Aziz Yildirim has acknowledged fans’ despair and pledged sweeping changes to restore the team’s spirit, and get them back into the Champions League. Aragones’ fate has not yet been officially announced but among rumoured replacements are former coach Christoph Daum, who won two league titles with the club.
PHOTO: Fenerbahce’s Spanish coach Luis Aragones waits for the start of their Turkish Cup final against Besiktas at the Ataturk stadium in Izmir, western Turkey, May 13, 2009. REUTERS/ Murad Sezer