Galatasaray coach, chairman under fire after humiliating defeat
ISTANBULGalatasaray coach Igor Tudor and chairman Dursun Özbek faced growing calls of resignation on July 21 following the Istanbul club’s humiliating exit from the European competition.
Galatasaray was eliminated from the UEFA Europa League after drawing 1-1 and losing out on a 3-1 aggregate to Swedish newcomer Östersund late on July 20.
The match on Galatasaray’s home turf, Türk Telekom Stadium, saw disappointed Turkish fans hoping their team to make a comeback after last week’s first-leg match at Jämtkraft Arena, where the team was defeated 2-0.
However, it did not turn out to be as the first half finished goalless, giving the Istanbul side less hope to advance to the next round in the early new season of UEFA’s Europa League campaign.
The fans’ hearts were broken at the 60th minute, when Östersund’s Nouri smashed a penalty kick right down the middle, giving his team a 3-0 aggregate lead.
Galatasaray defender Ahmet Çalık quickly responded at the 69th minute, but it was too late for the Lions as they were eliminated from the UEFA Europa League during the second qualifying round, the earliest ever in their history.
Galatasaray supporters started their protests after the visiting side’s goal, calling on coach Tudor and chairman Özbek to resign. The players also received their share of protests, with thousands of fans booing every time team captain Selçuk İnan and midfielder Yasin Öztekin received the ball.
The fans also rushed to social media upon their elimination, continuously tweeting for the club officials to resign, while hundreds of fans gathered in front of the club facilities in Florya to protest.
Coach Tudor was defiant after the humiliating loss, which came in the Swedish team’s first-ever appearance on the European stage.
“We are building a new team and such things do not happen in one night,” said the Croatian, who replaced Jan Olde Riekerink last February.
Galatasaray went through major changes in its squad this summer, parting ways with more than 10 players including striker Lukas Podolski, Portuguese winger Bruma and Turkish defenders Semih Kaya and Sabri Sarıoğlu.
The administration also forced out Dutch star Wesley Sneijder earlier this month, drawing wrath from the club’s supporters.
Among the newcomers are French striker Batefimbi Gomis, Brazilian defender Maicon, Moroccan attacking midfielder Younes Belhanda and Brazilian winger Mariano.
Tudor defied criticism about the major changes in the squad, saying he was not the sole decision-maker.
“I’m not in a position to say ‘this player should go and this player should come,’” said the Croatian.
“These decisions are made together with the sporting director above me and the chairman above him.”
When asked about the supporters’ protests and calls for resignation, Tudor said they had every right.
“I believe you would have loved it if I were to quit, you want blood. As a coach, I tried to do my best. But whatever has happened, the fans are right in their protests. Although we have given our all, we were knocked out. If I were in the fans’ shoes, I would have given the same reaction,” a visibly angry Tudor told reporters.