The former Akhisar boss has enjoyed a positive start to his Turk Telekom Arena career following the Italian’s disastrous reign
A cursory glance at the Super Lig table may surprise the casual onlooker. For all of Galatasaray’s repeated Champions League humiliations, the Istanbul giants remain just one point off pace-setters Besiktas at the top of the domestic championship.
Part of that is down to Istanbul derby wins over Slaven Bilic’s side and third-placed Fenerbahce, but credit must also go to Hamza Hamzaoglu, who took over after Cesare Prandelli’s brief, disastrous reign.
The Istanbul club’s shortcomings were exposed in their failed Champions League campaign, where they have lost four of their five group matches so far.
The Italian’s tenure was so appalling that club president Unal Aysal, who made the decision to hire Prandelli, stood aside in October. The fuel magnate’s three-year spell as president was a study in short-term thinking gone wrong. Having overspent for years in a bid for glory, Galatasaray were left with a bloated squad, a wage bill to match and – after Roberto Mancini and Fatih Terim came and went – Prandelli was tasked with overhauling the dressing room.
But the former Fiorentina boss’ transfer market power was strictly limited by the overspending of previous summers, with a few signings failing to improve the overall quality of the squad.
On the pitch matters were barely better. The derby wins papered over obvious cracks but disaster was never far around the corner. When they lost in the league, they lost big; Super Lig newcomers Balikesirspor were the first team to beat them, but further humiliation was yet to come. Istanbul Basaksehir, who also were promoted last season, thrashed them 4-0, while Trabzonspor came away from the Turk Telekom Arena with a 3-0 victory.
Most tellingly, their Champions League campaign is one of the worst a Turkish team has ever had. If they lose their final game this season, it would equal Bursaspor’s one-point haul of 2010-11.
Qualifying was always going to be tough with Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal for company, but they have so far managed just one point from their five games, were thrashed 8-1 on aggregate by BVB, lost 4-1 in their first match against Arsenal and suffered defeat to lowly Anderlecht.
“Cristiano won the Champions League, but finished third in La Liga, while Neuer went out badly in the Champions League.
“After so many months with many goals is amazing that people do not think of Leo Messi as the favourite. What is clear is that there are different campaigns for people to win.”