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.
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
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
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.
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
“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.
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
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
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.
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
However, since his big pay day, Bruchian’s form has suffered a
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.
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
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.
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
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.[email protected] Follow Allon Sinai on