Maccabi Tel Aviv’s coach Pako Ayestaran.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Two hours before the start of its final match of the campaign, Maccabi Tel Aviv ended weeks of speculation on Monday evening, announcing that coach Pako Ayestaran will leave the club.
Despite guiding Maccabi to an unprecedented domestic treble, the Spaniard will not continue at the club, with professional differences with sports director Jordi Cruyff believed to be at the core of what both sides described on Monday as a mutual decision.
“I have enjoyed every minute here. Thanks for a lovely journey I had in Tel Aviv,” said Pako, who led Maccabi to its third straight championship, while also winning the team’s first State Cup in 10 years, as well as the Toto Cup. “I came here with a clear conviction that I took the right decision. I had difficult targets with the club and I think we achieved all of them. When I arrived I realized I had the best squad in Israel and that helped me achieve the targets. But it is time to move on.”
Cruyff was full of praise for Pako, but didn’t explain why he won’t be back for another campaign.
“I’d like to thank Pako and the staff. It was an amazing season,” he said. “I think he left the bar very high and put a lot of pressure as we move on. Pako has absolutely fulfilled all the targets and objectives.”
Cruyff said Maccabi hasn’t got a replacement for Pako yet, but did confirm that the next coach will also be a foreigner. Cruyff will aim to sign a new coach as soon as possible, with Maccabi set to begin its Champions League qualifying campaign in the second round in mid-July.
Maccabi fans bid farewell to Pako at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday, with captain Sheran Yeini also being honored in a special ceremony ahead of his departure for Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem. Maccabi’s final match of the 2014/15 season ended in a 2-0 defeat to Maccabi Petah Tikva, the yellow-and-blue’s first home loss in two years, ending a 35-match streak.
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