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Earnshaw ready to finally make mark at Mac TA
By ALLON SINAI
11/27/2012
Sinai Says: Earnshaw’s scoring pedigree is indisputable; he has netted 202 goals in 453 league and cup appearances.
 
There is little doubt that Robert Earnshaw has one of the more impressive resumes in the Israeli Premier League.

However, with almost a third of the season already elapsed, the 31- year-old Welsh striker has made little to no impact on Maccabi Tel Aviv’s charge for the championship.

Earnshaw has registered just five league appearances in three months, starting in a single match and scoring a sole goal.

Niggling injuries and the form of fellow forwards Eliran Atar and Gonzalo Garcia have significantly limited his opportunities, but Earnshaw remains upbeat.

“I got a couple of little injuries at the wrong time that have not helped. It’s just something that happens in football,” he told me earlier this week. “I’ve trained well over the last week and I hope I can be healthy and play a lot of games.

That’s what I’m fighting for. I think that if I can play you will see the best in me.”

Earnshaw said that despite not knowing what to expect, he’s really enjoyed his stay in Israel so far, although he could have done without the unpleasant experience of running for shelter during the recent rocket fire from Gaza to Tel Aviv.

“It was scary,” he admitted. “It’s something you never experienced before. To have something that’s so scary that you don’t feel safe is big. It’s a difficult situation for everyone. Even for people who live here and have experienced it before.

“This is the only time that things have been rocky,” he added. “That’s the only time that I thought we are not in a good situation. To be honest, for 95 percent of the time it’s been good. It’s a little difficult coming over from England. It was a change, but I settled in very well.”

The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas has Earnshaw feeling a lot more relaxed.

“The worse thing is that you start worrying when the next siren is going off,” he said. “What are you going to do, where are you going to be and where you are going to take cover. That’s when its difficult because you are not living a calm life. You are thinking about things that you probably shouldn’t be thinking about. I think that was the most difficult thing.

“Since the cease-fire everybody is a lot calmer and everybody has started to get back to normal. Normal life here is very good and you can really enjoy it.”

Earnshaw’s scoring pedigree is indisputable. He has netted 202 goals in 453 league and cup appearances playing for Cardiff City, Nottingham Forrest, Derby County, Norwich City and West Bromwich Albion.

The Zambia native has also scored 16 goals in 58 games for the Welsh national team.

He is playing abroad for the first time in his career, but said that the decision to do so was made long ago.

“It was not all of the sudden,” he explained. “When I was out of a contract a year and a half ago at Nottingham Forest there were different options of going abroad with different teams.

“Ever since I was young I wasn’t always set on just playing in England. I always wanted to experience different things and different football. It’s not been a case of its just something has come up and I’ve done it. I’ve always had in the back of my mind that I’ll play abroad somewhere. It just happened to be a good situation in this club and it’s something that I wanted to do.”

Earnshaw, who joined Maccabi on a one-year loan deal from Cardiff, insisted that he is focusing on enjoying his time with the yellow-andblue and soaking up as much as possible from the experience.

“Maybe later on I’ll become a coach or manager and I think the experience will help me,” he said.

“You see a different mentality and you learn different things, especially from the coach here and Jordi Cruyff. You have got these people around you who have been at what is probably the biggest club in the world in Barcelona and you can take things off them and that is a big part of why I came because I wanted to learn all these things.”

After losing two consecutive matches, Maccabi got back to winning ways on Saturday, coming back from 1-3 down to beat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 4-3, with Earnshaw coming on as a 58th-minute substitute.

Earnshaw may have only played a total of 143 minutes in the league so far, but he has nevertheless gotten to know his team and the yellow-and-blue’s rivals in recent months and believes Maccabi can go all the way and win a first championship since the 2002/03 season.

“This is what we are fighting for. I believe Maccabi can win the championship,” he said. “I’ve been here a couple of months now and have seen a few games so I believe so. Whether it will happen is a different thing.

“I think the squad has got a good spirit and a good calmness,” he explained. “Even when we lost a couple of games there was no panic. It’s been disruptive over the last couple of weeks with everything that has gone on outside of football as well.

“We have slowly gotten back to what we need to do. We won the other day and we need to win this weekend to put pressure on the other teams. A win will also help our confidence.

“Sometimes you get knocked a little bit when you lose a game, but if we get our confidence back that is going to help us win games and stay top of the league.”

allon@jpost.com
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