Shum on the Ropes After Panathinaikos' Debacle

After Tuesday night's 5-0 demolition at the hands of Manchester United, Yitzhak Shum, the Panathinaikos coach and former Maccabi Haifa coach, returned to Athens to a drubbing by the Greek press.

"An irresponsible performance by Panathinaikos," wrote the sports daily Goal. "I have seem Panathinaikos play in hundreds of games, but I have never seen it play so badly," said Goal's Tassos Cholakos. One television commentator went as far as saying that Shum doesn't understand the basics of soccer.

"Before the game, Shum and his players gave the impression they were capable of pulling off a surprise, but their soccer was pitiful," Cholakos said.

"No one here understands why Shum chose to play an attacking game against United. It looks as though his understanding is lacking... perhaps he doesn't know that Panathinaikos' best results in Europe came when the team played a controlled game. Everybody knows that United, one of the best teams in the world, tries to win its home games in the opening minutes. If Shum doesn't know that then he has a problem, and so does Panathinaikos."

The thrashing by Manchester United was the club's second worst-ever result in European competition: the team suffered a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Dinamo Bucharest in the European Cup Winners Cup in 1990. For Manchester United, the result equaled its best-ever Champions League win.

Panathinaikos faces AEK Athens Sunday in a match that could be critical for Shum. A loss to AEK could spell the end of the road for the Israeli manager.

"As far as the fans are concerned, Shum is responsible for the debacle against United, and if he loses again against AEK, the chances are high that he will find himself heading back home," wrote Cholakos.

Shum himself was upbeat despite the humiliating defeat. "Nobody will win here in Greece, anybody that takes a point off us will be lucky" Shum said. "Now we have to forget about the game and concentrate on the match against AEK Athens.