Berkovic, Hapoel Tel Aviv split amid hail of insults

“You zero coward, I’ve left,” Berkovic tells team owner in message.

January 21, 2015 01:32
2 minute read.
Eyal Berkovic

Hapoel Tel Aviv’s manager Eyal Berkovic. (photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)

Eyal Berkovic’s tumultuous tenure as Hapoel Tel Aviv manager came to an abrupt but an all but inevitable ending on Tuesday.

The ever-deteriorating relationship between Berkovic and club owner Haim Ramon resulted in the manager’s resignation by an SMS which read (in Hebrew): “You zero coward, I’ve left.”

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Hapoel held nothing back in its response.

“General manager Eyal Berkovic notified Haim Ramon of his immediate resignation,” a club press release read. “Hapoel Tel Aviv will not be dragged to use the same language as Berkovic, which it very much regrets, but will not hide the fact that even though Berkovic was given all the professional authority, and recently also the administrative authority, the results testify to his failure.

“Berkovic was given ideal conditions and was warned more than once to stop giving interviews and sending messages to the owners, players and staff through one media outlet, which caused chaos at the club and made it very difficult for the entire organization to function.”

Berkovic was handed the reins at Hapoel last May and from the start lived up to his billing as one of the most entertaining men in Israeli soccer.

The 42-year-old, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Israeli players of all time, had spent recent years working in the media and running a soccer school in Nesher, after lasting only a couple of months as the manager of Maccabi Netanya in 2006.

Berkovic’s ostentatious nature ensured his services were always in demand in the media, but very quickly resulted in clashes with Ramon and his ownership group.

Berkovic inherited a club in shambles with severe financial difficulties. He named Asi Domb as the head coach, and even though the club had failed to recruit a rich owner or significant sponsor, he seemed to have built a reasonably strong squad.

However, Hapoel currently finds itself just five points off the relegation zone after 18 matches, winning just one of its past nine games.

Berkovic said on Tuesday that he decided to leave after not being allowed to sack Domb following Monday’s 1-1 draw against Beitar Jerusalem.

Berkovic claimed that earlier in the season he had refused Ramon’s request to fire Domb, but the roles were reversed on Tuesday and he decided that he couldn’t continue if he wasn’t allowed to make such a decision.

Following Tuesday’s developments, Domb looks set to follow in Berkovic’s footsteps out of the club, leaving Hapoel in complete disarray once more.

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