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Turkish-football.com Manager of 2012-13 (Mid-season) - Mehmet Özdilek

2012-12-28 05:45:56

Antalyaspor manager Mehmet Özdilek

Mehmet Özdilek was due a long, relaxing break after a 13 year career at Beşiktaş during which time he lifted four Turkish Super League titles, played 387 matches and scored 130 goals for the Istanbul club.

Şifo Mehmet as he's also known, a nickname he earned after being compared to Beglium football sensation Enzo Scifo headed off to Antalya, famous for it's sandy Mediterranean beaches and all year round sun for what looked like a well earned rest.

However, Özdilek had other plans, the former Beşiktaş star took a sabbatical to learn from the masters of management as he left Turkey for England on a year long coaching internship at Newcastle United under Sir Bobby Robson and Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson.

Özdilek was appointed manager of Antalyaspor in 2008-09 transforming a team with no previous titles and considered one of the leagues whipping boys into a side with a clear long term plan on strengthening the side in a sustainable manner.

Credit also has to be given to the Scorpions president, Hasan Akıncıoğlu, for sticking with Özdilek through the tough times and keeping to the manager and his own personal goals.

In a country where managers generally have a pretty short shelf life it's refreshing to see such a visionary president thinking of the long term rather than making rash, impulsive, impromptu decisions.

Akıncıoğlu held a recent interview regarding Antalyaspor's successful start to the season and spoke about the goals Özdilek and himself had agreed on.

Akıncıoğlu said, "We want to become a club with a long term future in the Turkish Super League. Our goal is to become an established, well organised, institutionalised club.

"We don't have unrealistic aims like winning the league yet however, were very pleased with the current position we find ourselves in. We want to take the team as far as we can in the league and cup.

"Our main objective right now is to keep to our five year plan of developing the club."

The Scorpions have no major titles to their name, their proudest moment was being runner up in 2002 for the Turkish Cup. Antalyaspor have drifted between the first and second leagues through most of their history.

Antalyaspor were promoted to the Super League in the 2008-2009 season and have remained in top flight football since. Özdilek has done an impressive job in keeping his side in the league for five successive seasons, an achievement deserving of praise in itself, however, to get Antalyaspor into second position at the leagues half-way point with a game in hand is astounding.

The Antalyaspor manager recently spoke to reporters regarding his sides impressive start to the season.

Özdilek said, "We have been planning for five years, we haven't had the best of results for the past four years however, were in a great position this year. It's a fantastic feeling for all the hard work to start paying off."

Few would have predicted the Scorpions to be second in the table with a game in hand at this stage of the season. Antalyaspor managed to end a Fenerbahçe's 47 match undefeated streak in the Şükrü Saracoğlu and defeated Trabzonspor 2-1 along the way.

The 46-year-old manager doesn't have his side playing the kind of football usually associated with club's of Antalyaspor's stature.

The Scorpions haven't been sitting back, playing ultra-defensive, negative football. In total contrast Özdilek's side has been playing possession football with a fluid passing style intent on trying to control the tempo of the game.

Antalyaspor are just three points behind Galatasaray with a game in hand. It's still very early days and too early to talk about Antalyaspor as genuine league contenders of even a side capable of pushing for a top four finish however, the future is looking bright for the Scorpions under Özdilek.

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