Fulham midfielder Giorgos Karagounis is expected to captain the Greek national team after being included in the squad for the World Cup 2014 by manager Fernando Santos. This will be an end of the era kind of tournament for the Greek given that this could be Karagounis’ last appearance in a major tournament. Fernando Santos has also said that he will be stepping down from the Greek managerial post after the end of the tournament. The manager named a total of 29 players for the tournament.
Karagounis was widely expected to be left out of the squad after featuring regularly for the Fulham first-team in the second half of the season. He was an important player for the club in their previous Premier league campaign. Now that the club has been relegated, they are widely expected to sell Giorgos Karagounis in the summer. At 37 years of age, he is one of the most experienced outfield players going to the World Cup 2014. However, the Greek will be hoping to utilise this vast experience and get through into the knockout stages of the competition.
A favourable draw for the group stages is a major reason towards it. The nation will be coming up against the likes of Ivory Coast, Japan, and Colombia in the group stages.
Karagounis is not the only Greek player to have experienced the relegation this campaign, as he will be joined by the likes of Panagiotis Kone and Lazaros Christodoulopoulos as well. The two players were relegated to the second division of Italian football after having been relegated with Bologna. Karagounis is one of the most experienced players at the international level after having made 132 appearances for the national team in a career that started out in 1999.
He was also part of the team that won the Euro 2004.
Fulham boss Felix Magath’s future at the club has been thrown into doubt after rumours about a potential sack before the end of the season after the results have failed to improve since coming to the club. The former Bayern Munich manager came with a reputation of saving relegation threatened clubs, but he has so far been unable to prevent Fulham from slipping down the table. The club are the relegation zone with only six matches left. In order to prevent further losses, it has been rumoured that Fulham could be set for yet another managerial change.
Felix Magath is already the club’s third manager this campaign. The manager, though, has confirmed that he still remains in charge of the team according to its owner Shahid Khan. The American bought to the club only in the summer. Relegation could be threatening for the club’s future since they have been in the Premier league for several years and have adjusted their budget according to the much higher revenues that they will get from being in this league. One of the reasons for Magath being unable to get results has been the absence of key players.
January signing Kostas Mitroglou and midfielder Karagounis have all been absent in the last few weeks.
“I had a phone call with the owner and everything is fine. He knows the situation, he knows how things work. I have no doubt about my contract. I don’t worry about it. It’s normal if things in clubs don’t go well. There is politics, people who call journalists and tell them: ‘I know that is going on,’ but I don’t care. Sure I’ll be here next season. I’m here to build a team. That was clear from the beginning,” said the manager. Fulham are rock bottom of the table with 24 points.
New Fulham manager Felix Magath has stated that the bid to keep Fulham in the Premier league is the most difficult task he has done in his career. After avoiding relegation by the skin of their teeth only a few years ago, the club are set to face relegation dogfight this season as well. They are bottom of the Premier league going into this weekend’s matches. They are already four points away from safety and it looks increasingly difficult for the Londoners. Their most recent match ended in a 3-1 defeat against table leaders Chelsea, but new manager Magath would have been shocked to see his teams defending – especially in the second half.
Chelsea managed to score 3 goals 30 minutes in the second half, as they continued their march for the title. Fulham, meanwhile, were able to lick their wounds after yet another disappointing performance. An interesting statistic pointed out that Fulham have had more managers this season than they have had victories. Magath is the third manager after the departures of Martin Jol and René Meulensteen. Magath has been extremely successful in the past at keeping clubs fighting against relegation, but he reckons that the task is made even more difficult at Fulham.
The club spent heavily during the January transfer window in a bid to escape relegation.
“It’s the most difficult because now we are behind the other teams. The team is growing together and that is what makes me sure we can avoid relegation. The best confidence you can get is if you win. We need a win for our confidence. If I look at the schedules I know we have quite a good schedule in the last 10 games. I am convinced we will avoid relegation because we have developed in the last 14 days,” said Magath.
Fulham have attempted to get out of the relegation zone by buying their way out of trouble. They have brought in striker Kostas Mitroglou from massive fee of £ 11 million, while it has allowed Dimitar Berbatov to sign for Monaco. Scoring goals has been a major problem for Fulham this campaign. As a result, they find themselves in the relegation zone with less than half of the season remaining. Relegation will be catastrophic for the club, whose ownership recently changed hands. Berbatov has been one of the Premier league’s finest, but he has struggled to get goals this campaign.
In order to solve this crisis, they have signed Kostas Mitroglou from Olympiakos. Other players like John Heitinga and Lewis Holtby have also joined the club in this January transfer window. Mitroglou has revealed that he took the advice of Giorgos Karagounis in order to be convinced about a move to the London outfit. Karagounis only had a short spell at the club, but he quickly became one of the fan favourites with his attitude and performance on the pitch. The signing of Mitroglou has allowed the club to allow Berbatov to leave on a free transfer.
The former Manchester United and Tottenham striker scored just five goals in 18 appearances this campaign.
“I was really flattered that Fulham wanted me so badly. I’m happy to work with Rene Meulensteen. He explained to me how he works and I’m looking forward to working with him. I also spoke to Giorgos before I came here and he only told me only the best things about Fulham,” said Mitroglou after completing the move. The striker was hoping that he manages to continue the good run of form he has shown this season. The 25-year-old has 17 goals in 19 appearances for the Greek outfit.
Nothing is going Manchester United’s way this year, neither on the field nor off it. They have suffered regular defeats and now, they are getting embarrassed in the transfer market. The two players that they were most interested in (Leighton Baines and Paul Pogba) have both snubbed them. Baines is close to committing himself to his current club Everton for a few more years, while, Pogba who was a United player not so long back is unwilling to make his way back to Old Trafford and he is believed to prefer a move to somewhere else instead.
Manchester United had sold Pogba to the Italian club Juventus at the start of the last season much to the surprise of the experts. He was a talented young man who was developing quite quickly and could have become a key member of the Red Devils’ starting line up, but, Sir Alex Ferguson thought that letting him go was a better option. Now it seems that it was one of the very few blunders made by Ferguson during his management career. Had Pogba been at Old Trafford right now, United’s performance in the midfield would not have been as pathetic as it has been so far in the season.
Apart from United, the other club which has Pogba on its radar is Paris Saint-Germain and they are ready to spend as many as 50 million Pounds for the player. However, as things stand right now, Juventus doesn’t seem to be eager to sell the 20 years old Frenchman, but, to ignore an offer as luring as PSG’s might not be possible for them.
Pogba has so far featured for Juventus in 45 Serie A games and has found the back of the net on 10 occasions.
Greece ensured their progression into their 2nd consecutive World Cup and 3rd in all of their history after claiming a 4-2 aggregate triumph over Romania on Tuesday night. The veteran midfielder of Fulham, Giorgos Karagounis who is 36 years of age will be his last chance to progress far with Greece taking into consideration is significant elevated age compared to the rest of the squad.
Greece travelled to the Arena Nationala in Bucuresti to play the 2nd leg of the 2014 World Cup qualifications against Romania and the home team was going to need a shower of goals if they wanted to overcome the initial deficit suffered in the 1st leg when Greece claimed a 3-1 victory.
Unfortunately for Romania they got hit with another blow when the captain Giorgos Karagounis delivered a pass over to Mitroglou who found the back of the net and extended the lead of Greece even further.
During the 2nd half Vasilis Torosidis scored an own goal that gave a glimmer of hope for the Romanians but the well placed defence of Greece did not concede any further goals as they edged out a 1-1 draw and ultimately the victory which secured them their space into the upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
This will be the fifth major tournament Greece has qualified to in the last 10 years, after playing at Euro 2004, Euro 2008, the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012.
Now the real question remains on how much further can they reach and with Giorgos Karagounis appearing to be playing in his last World Cup it might be the last chance for them to play being under the guidance of their captain Giorgos Karagounis.