Jordi Cruyff was unveiled as Maccabi Tel Aviv’s new sports director on Sunday
afternoon and spoke of his confidence of leading the troubled club to the
success that has eluded it in recent years.
Maccabi remains Israel’s most
decorated club with 14 championships and 16 State Cups to its name despite
winning just a single league title and lifting only three cups in the past 16
The yellow-and-blue has gone seven years since its last
significant title, winning the cup in 2005, two seasons after claiming its last
championship to date.
Despite a massive investment, there has been little
improvement to Maccabi fortunes since Canadian Mitch Goldhar took control of the
club in the summer of 2009.
But Cruyff, who joins Maccabi after two
seasons in a similar position at Cypriot club AEK Larnaca, is optimistic he has
what it takes to turn the illustrious club around.
“I’m confident things
will be better,” he said at a press conference at Maccabi’s training complex in
Kiryat Shalom on Sunday. “I think I can add the right ingredients for things to
“For me this is an important step up, but I hope that in 10
years time everyone will also look back at my experience here as a positive
The first task facing the ex-Manchester United and Barcelona
forward will be to name a new coach, with caretaker Nir Levine guiding the side
since Moti Ivanir was sacked in December.
Ran Ben-Shimon is the early
favorite for the job due to his imminent departure from Ironi Kiryat Shmona
after guiding the club to an historic championship, but Cruyff has no intention
to rush into a decision.
“My plans are to analyze all the options and to
have meetings also with coaches here,” he said. “We will make the right decision
when the moment is right which is obviously not now. I don’t think anyone wins
by making premature announcements.”
The last two coaches Cruyff brought
in to Larnaca were Dutch, and while Goldhar wouldn’t rule out signing an
Israeli, the owner hinted that he is leaning towards a foreigner, saying “the
world is large” when asked about the team’s next coach.
“I think his age
and the stage of his career is ideal for us,” Goldhar said of Cruyff, 38, son of
former Dutch great Johan. “I like someone on the rise who hasn’t peaked
“When I acquired the club I inherited an existing infrastructure. It
takes time to get to know that. It’s a folly just to jump in. This has been a
learning process for me. It has been a very steep learning curve. Sometimes
impatience is very damaging. You can bring the whole thing down by being
Cruyff was on hand to watch Maccabi’s 1-1 draw at Ashdod SC
on Saturday, and although he admitted he still has plenty to learn about Israeli
soccer, he did claim to be impressed with the level of the local
“The more I look into local football I’m happily surprised by
the talent you have,” he said. “I think that most people in Europe don’t always
have the right impression of football in Israel.”