Sinai Says: Bruchian and Betar: A divorce long overdue

Betar needs hungry and motivated players, ones who still have their best days ahead of them, something which can not be said about Bruchian.

By
January 4, 2012 06:21
4 minute read.
Aviram Bruchian.

Aviram Bruchian 311. (photo credit: Asaf Kliger)

The only negative aspect of Aviram Bruchian’s departure from Betar Jerusalem is that it didn’t happen long ago.

In its current dire situation, Betar will be better off without one of the most overrated players in Israeli soccer, one who showed his true colors when he made the spineless decision to sign a contract to join Polonia Warsaw on Monday.

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In this day and age we have come to expect soccer players to put their own good well ahead of that of their club, and that may be understandable.

But as the team’s captain for the past two-and-a-half seasons, Bruchian always seemed to represent old-fashion values, parading his loyalty to Betar at every opportunity.

He put his money where his mouth was by accepting a 50 percent cut to his salary when Betar’s financial situation took another turn for the worse last season before also agreeing in the summer to defer a third of his pay check for this season until 2012/13.

But in its true time of need, Bruchian escaped the sinking ship, shamelessly leaving Betar to go under.

Betar dropped into the relegation zone for the first time this season following Sunday’s 3-0 humbling loss at Hapoel Haifa, a defeat which coach Yuval Naim described as “disgraceful.”

Since winning three of its first four matches of the Premier League season, Betar has picked up all three points only once in its past 15 games, going winless in its last eight encounters.

Perhaps most worrying about the performance against Haifa was that the players didn’t even seem to care.

After 21 straight seasons in the top flight, Betar finds itself in real danger of being relegated to the National League and Bruchian’s desertion will not be forgotten if the yellow-andblack faithful’s worse nightmare eventually materializes.

“I was unsure what to do, changing my mind all the time,” Bruchian said on Tuesday upon his return from Poland after signing a deal with Polonia Warsaw.

“However, the pressure from my family was eventually the decisive factor.

I understood that I have no choice if I want to realize my dream, but there is a lot of sadness mixed with the happiness.

“I knew that it was now or never. I’m going to play in Poland, but my heart will always be with Betar Jerusalem. This was a very difficult decision, especially because of Betar’s situation, but many times during my career I put the team ahead of my own personal good.

“It was important for me to ask Polonia to transfer Betar the money [150,000 euros in compensation] as quickly as possible and I hope that helps the team to strengthen its squad. This move will be good for Betar and for me as well.”

Almost all of Bruchian’s comments reek of self-righteousness, but he certainly got it right when he claimed that his departure will only help Betar.

Ever since he made his debut for Betar as a 17-year-old in 2002/03, Bruchian was labeled as the future star of the team.

He finally made his long awaited breakthrough in 2005/06 under coach Luis Fernandez, but started just three matches the following season in which Betar won the championship with Yossi Mizrahi.

Bruchian reestablished his place in the starting lineup in the subsequent campaign, helping Betar to the league and cup double before receiving a lucrative four-year contract, paying NIS 2.5 million a season.

However, since his big pay day, Bruchian’s form has suffered a steep decline.

As Betar’s financial situation worsened and more and more of the team’s star players left, Bruchian struggled to become the side’s leader as was expected of him.

Jerusalem wallowed in mediocrity for much of the past three seasons, with Bruchian becoming the vocal point of the team’s offensive play for better, and most of the time, for worse.

Bruchian has also started in 17 of Betar’s 19 matches so far this season, scoring just one goal, and amazingly for a playmaker, failing to record a single assist.

His hero status and the memories from the club’s glory days resulted in Betar becoming too dependent on Bruchian and his poor play is one of the reasons behind the team’s recent dismal performances.

While his departure will have a demoralizing effect on the rest of the squad, it will do the team plenty of good in the long run.

Not having to pay his salary will free up funds, and combined with the 150,000 euros the club will receive from the Poles, Betar will finally have a little money to bolster its squad.

Bruchian had some great days at Betar and he is far from the only one to blame for the side’s bitterly poor start to 2011/12. He also made a significant impact off the field when he took a stand against the racist element of the club’s supporters when he said he would be happy to play with an Arab player at Jerusalem.

But for the moment, Betar will only profit from coming out of Bruchian’s shadow.

Betar needs hungry and motivated players, ones who still have their best days ahead of them, something which can not be said about Bruchian.

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Follow Allon Sinai on Twitter: @AllonSinai


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