soccer ball 88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The saddest aspect of Guy Luzon's departure from Hapoel Tel Aviv earlier this week was that he never really had any chance of succeeding at the club. He was out of his depth from day one.
The last six months of Luzon's life, since he joined Hapoel, have been nothing short of a nightmare. After six successful years in charge at Maccabi Petah Tikva, the 32-year-old coach left the club owned by his uncle Amos Luzon and embarked on the challenge of a lifetime. The switch from Petah Tikva to Tel Aviv, however, was always doomed to end in failure.
At Petah Tikva Luzon was untouchable. Maccabi had more than the occasional glitch in form during his tenure, but Luzon knew that whatever happened he would not lose his job and could continue as coach for as long as he liked.
At Hapoel, however, anything short of immediate success is unacceptable. The massive fan base and the club's illustrious past mean that challenging for titles is an absolute must. To make matters worse for Luzon Hapoel invested heavily over the summer, which raised the club's expectations to a level the coach had no chance of meeting.
After losing five and drawing three of its first eight league matches, it was obvious that there was something fundamentally wrong at Hapoel.
Tel Aviv not only failed to win its matches, but it did so in embarrassing fashion. The team lost its confidence, as every poor result seemed to be followed by an even worse one. With every match that passed it became clearer that Luzon was not the man to steer the sinking club to safety.
"The strength of the group is the strength of the leaders," legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi once said.
Hapoel's play on the field reflected the weakness of its coach, who refused to throw in the towel, despite his constant failures.
Luzon finally managed to break a smile after his side's 1-0 victory over Maccabi Tel Aviv two weeks ago. But it was extremely short-lived, as Hapoel sank to another humbling defeat in its next match, losing 2-0 to Maccabi Haifa on Saturday.
As much as the Tel Aviv management wanted to avoid firing Luzon, which would have entailed compensating him on the remaining three years of his contract, the mounting losses were becoming unbearable.
Luzon was still defiant after the defeat to Haifa on Saturday, saying that he's not a person who runs away from a tough situation. A meeting with the club's management the following day, however, changed his mind and left him with no option but to resign.
Too bad it came after Luzon caused what could turn out to be irreversible damage to one of Israel's biggest clubs.
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