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The facelift at Maccabi Tel Aviv continues.
Nir Klinger finally admitted defeat and resigned from his post as head coach hours after a humiliating 3-2 loss to Betar Jerusalem Sunday at the National Stadium in Ramat Gan.
Over the summer, Tel Aviv made some impressive signings, including Eyal Berkovic, Giovanni Rosso and Avi Nimni. Nimni was re-signed from Betar Jerusalem after being released by Maccabi due to differences with Klinger two seasons ago.
A club-record 10,000 season tickets were sold as expectations from Klinger's "Galacticos" were sky high, but the fireworks on the field did not materialize.
A little more than a third of the way into the Premier League regular season, the yellow-and-blue have fallen out of the race for the league title and are not even in a position to fight for second place, which means a spot in European competition next year.
Klinger failed to find the formula that would take advantage of the stars in attack, with the team scoring only 12 goals in 12 games.
While manager Eli Driks and team captain Avi Nimni were present at the press conference on Monday when the resignation was announced, Klinger himself was conspicuously absent.
"Nir Klinger has decided to leave the club and has notified the players," said Driks, who also announced that he will be on the sideline for this weekend's derby against Hapoel Tel Aviv. "From now on I will be responsible for the team's management until a permanent coach is appointed."
The interim coach also confirmed that Klinger, who coached the team for three and a half seasons, would receive his salary through the end of the season.
"It's tough," Nimni added. "All of the players feel bad following this development. Nir paid the price, but the whole system contributed to the failure."
In his term as head coach, Klinger guided the yellow-and-blue to a league championship in the 2002/03 season and also the State Cup last year.
The 40-year-old Klinger played eight seasons for Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 1990s and was a leading factor in the team's three championships and two State Cups at the time. The former midfielder was also a key player on the national team under Shlomo Scharf.
By ALLON SINAI
By ALLON SINAI
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