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(photo credit: Hapoel Jerusalem Web site/courtesy)
Hapoel Jerusalem coach Dan Shamir believes the BSL runner-up needs time before it begins to perform at the level expected of it.
Only four of the players on Hapoel's 2007/08 roster were on the side that came a close second behind Maccabi Tel Aviv in the BSL last season, leaving second-year coach Shamir with the difficult task of rebuilding a team for a second straight season.
"When you build a team it takes time until you get the desired results," Shamir said on Monday at a press conference launching the club's new season. "We may have difficulties along the way, but I'm very pleased with the building process so far."
Hapoel was well beaten by Maccabi Tel Aviv in the final of the preseason Winner Cup tournament last week, sending an ominous message of intent to the Jerusalem team.
Shamir said it had been a difficult summer. "I was very concerned and worried when we began to build the team two-and-a-half months ago. We only had three signed players and lost many assets.
"We went through a very long and difficult process, but we signed all the players we wanted. We're very pleased with the roster we assembled."
Despite his optimism, Shamir refused to proclaim that his team must win a championship for the season to be considered a success.
"Over the last six seasons I've been part of several successful teams and I don't think that you can know in September or October where you'll be in May," he said.
"Everybody wants to hear us make a statement, but these statements don't get you anywhere. There's a path we have to take before we succeed."
Hapoel president Arkadi Gaydamak joined the press conference in its closing stages and as usual attracted all the attention.
"I think we'll have a great season this year. If the team needs my support I'm always here," he said.
Gaydamak also spoke of the difference between the position he holds at Israeli soccer champion Betar Jerusalem and at Hapoel. "Betar is my team and I have full responsibility to help the team win the championship. A few years ago we decided not to do the same at Hapoel and that's why I support the club in a different way."