Gutman, Luzon do awkward shakeup dance

First game at the helm for returning Hap TA coach comes in derby vs Maccabi • Beitar visits Hap Haifa.

September 23, 2016 06:17
2 minute read.
There were few smiles at yesterday’s press conference in which coach Guy Luzon (right) was unveiled

There were few smiles at yesterday’s press conference in which coach Guy Luzon (right) was unveiled as Eli Gutman’s replacement at Hapoel Tel Aviv, with the latter moving up to the front office following the team’s poor start to the campaign.. (photo credit: DANNY MARON)

The unveiling of Guy Luzon as Hapoel Tel Aviv’s new head coach was anything but a celebratory occasion on Thursday, with the press conference with his predecessor Eli Gutman, who will move to the front office as sports director, being dominated by frowns rather than smiles.

Hapoel has had very little to cheer about recently, being one of three teams yet to win a match in the Premier League this season, picking up just two points from its first four games.

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Gutman decided to step down and appoint Luzon in his place, but with Hapoel in financial dire straits, owner Amir Kabiri told him that Luzon’s salary will have to come out of his pay. So desperate was Gutman to leave his post that he agreed to forgo NIS 480,000 after tax in favor of Luzon.

Luzon, 41, is back coaching in Israel for the first time since guiding Bnei Yehuda in 2010. He coached Israel’s under-21 national team for three years, including in the 2013 European Championships held in Israel, before spending 15 months at Standard Liege in Belgium.

His last job was at Charlton Athletic in the English Championship, being sacked in October 2015 after just nine months.

Luzon will be returning to Hapoel for a second stint, with the first ending in his resignation in November 2007 following three months at the helm.

Luzon’s first match in charge will be Sunday’s derby against Maccabi Tel Aviv.

“I have always said that I’m looking for a challenge and Hapoel Tel Aviv is a big challenge,” Luzon said on Thursday.

“With the squad Hapoel has it must qualify for the championship playoffs.”

The 58-year-old Gutman insisted he didn’t quit on the team.

“Hapoel Tel Aviv is my home. I’m here and I’m not running away or escaping,” said Gutman. “The easiest thing to do is to go back home to the wife and kids, but my goal is to stabilize the club and bring it back to its glory days.”

After claiming its first victory of the season last week, Beitar Jerusalem aims to make it two wins in a row when it visits Hapoel Haifa on Saturday.

Haifa is coming off a 3-1 win over Ashdod SC, its second victory of the season to go with two defeats.

Ashdod and Hapoel Ra’anana, which sit at the bottom of the standings with one point each, continue their search for a first win on Saturday. Ashdod visits Hapoel Kfar Saba, while Ra’anana goes to Hapoel Ashkelon.

Also Saturday, Ironi Kiryat Shmona hosts Bnei Sakhnin.

Hapoel Beersheba looks to bounce back from the defeat to Maccabi Haifa when it visits Bnei Yehuda on Sunday, while Haifa travels to Maccabi Petah Tikva on Monday.

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