Guy Luzon 370.
(photo credit: Uzi Gal)
It was a surreal moment.
With several dozen supporters chanting abuse
outside the window and calling for his resignation even before he began his new
job, Guy Luzon was introduced as Standard Liege’s new manager.
38-year-old Israeli couldn’t have really started his tenure in a tougher
Not only were Standard fans furious with the sacking of the
popular Mircea Rednic and the appointment of a manager they had never even heard
of, but Luzon also found himself right in the middle of the crossfire between
the supporters and hated club owner Roland Duchatelet.
That all happened
three months ago, but seems like a far more distant memory.
claimed its 13th-straight win in all competitions since he took charge on
Sunday, defeating KV Oostende 4-2 on the road to make it seven wins in seven
matches in the Belgian league to maintain a four-point lead at the top of the
Standard has also triumphed in all six of its Europa League
qualifiers to advance to the group stage, turning Luzon from zero to hero far
faster than anyone could have predicted.
Luzon has charmed his players
and Belgian soccer in general with his infectious passion and enthusiasm while
maintaining his extreme hunger to prove all his doubters wrong.
dealt with criticism from his very first day as a coach.
as the coach of Maccabi Petah Tikva, the club owned by his uncles, at the age of
26 made him an easy target and he only made life more difficult for himself with
his controversial conduct.
He experienced six successful seasons at Petah
Tikva, taking the team to the UEFA Cup group stage in the 2005/06 season after
finishing in second position in the Premier League the previous
Much like in Liege, Hapoel Tel Aviv fans were only waiting for him
to fail after he was named as the club’s coach against their wishes ahead of the
start of the 2007/08 season. They got what they had hoped for when he resigned
following a dismal start to the campaign, with the club winning just one of its
first 10 league matches.
Luzon resurrected his career at Bnei Yehuda, but
found himself under fire yet again three years ago when he was named by his
uncle and Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon as the coach of
Israel’s under-21 national team.
His uncle made sure he didn’t have to
qualify for the European Championships after Israel won the right to host the
U21 Euros earlier this summer.
Nevertheless, Guy found himself targeted
before the team even played its first match.
A week before the tournament
opener against Norway, Luzon revealed that he had signed a deal to join
Standard, infuriating many people with the timing of the
Israel lost any hope of qualifying for the semifinals of
the Euros early on, but even a 1-0 victory over England in a meaningless group
rubber ended in uproar after Luzon celebrated the win in embarrassing fashion,
jumping, sliding and fist-pumping the air endlessly as if his side had just won
However, there was also a positive side to his struggles
with the media and unpopularity among local fans as it ensured he would be as
ready as possible for life in Liege.
Standard’s 13th straight win to
start the season on Sunday broke a club record, with the team getting off to a
perfect start in its quest to claim a first championship since the 2008/09
Luzon has brought in seven new players, but has only fine-tuned
the starting lineup implemented by Rednic last season and has so far rotated his
squad to perfection, using 24 different players over the 13
Indeed, Luzon’s true test will come with Standard’s first losing
streak, and that may arrive sooner rather than later, with the team facing
Esbjerg of Denmark in its Europa League group opener on Thursday before hosting
Lokeren, which is currently in third place in the league, on Sunday ahead of
four consecutive road matches in all competitions.
After years of
complaining that he is being unfairly targeted, Luzon has finally come to
comprehend the eternal truth of the sporting world.
“Every coach is
judged according to the results he achieves,” Luzon said when he was presented
three months ago.
After all is said and done, it all comes down to
results. The shortcuts he has received during his career and his general
impetuousness mean Luzon is continually under the microscope.
render everything else as meaningless.
And so far, by that measure,
Luzon’s tenure at Standard has been nothing short of