With Panathinaikos FC top in Greece for the first time since 8 May 2005 and flying in the UEFA Cup, coach José Peseiro has underlined his belief in his squad.
Panathinaikos FC coach José Peseiro said he believes in "every single player" in his squad as the Greens returned to the top of the Greek table on Sunday after a long absence.
A 2-1 derby win against AEK Athens FC moved Panathinaikos to the Super League summit for the first time since 8 May 2005, and underlined the fine progress they have made this season since Portuguese coach Peseiro took over from Victor Muñoz. "I am very proud of my players," said the former Sporting Clube de Portugal boss. "They played high-quality football."
That has been no great exception to the norm this season. The 47-year-old has watched his side impress both at home and in Europe where, following a third-placed finish in the league last season, they have won both of their UEFA Cup Group B outings to date. Dimitrios Papadopoulos, meanwhile, is the competition's joint-top scorer with five goals.
"So far this season, we have recorded eleven victories, one draw and have suffered just one defeat in our competitive encounters," explained Peseiro as he reflected upon his side's impressive form on all fronts this term. "We have scored 27 goals and conceded just four. We deserve to be at the top of the league, but we haven't won anything yet."
Sunday's success was proof that Peseiro has faith in his whole squad. Having played just 113 minutes of football in the previous seven league games, Evangelos Mantzios started against AEK and duly set up the opening goal for the in-form Dimitrios Salpingidis after six minutes before drilling in a superb effort of his own before half-time to secure the points.
'Surprised I started'
"I am very happy with my performance but also with the result," said the 24-year-old. "Truth be told, I was surprised I started the match. Our head coach is keen on rotation, but as I didn't start against FC København [in the UEFA Cup], I didn't expect to play in the derby. However, I have been in form, and proved it in training, and I guess that prompted Mr Peseiro's decision."
Peseiro underlined that commitment to all of the talent at his command, saying: "I believe in every single player I've got. They are working hard and deserve to be given opportunities. Mantzios didn't play because I wanted to rest other players, he played because he has the quality. I am a lucky coach." For the time being, it seems Panathinaikos are also lucky to have him.