Sinai Says: IFA gets it half-right with Gutman hire

The 53-year-old Gutman has seen and done it all since beginning his coaching career more than 26 years ago.

By
December 28, 2011 06:55
3 minute read.
Eli Gutman

Eli Gutman 311. (photo credit: (Asaf Kliger))

 
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Eli Gutman’s appointment as Israel coach may be overdue, but better late than never.

Gutman was the right man for the job when Luis Fernandez was named as the national team’s coach two years ago and Israel fans can only regret he wasn’t handed the position in March 2010 considering the Frenchman’s shambolic tenure with the blue-and-white.

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The 53-year-old Gutman has seen and done it all since beginning his coaching career more than 26 years ago.

He has battled through adversity and achieved remarkable success and comes with an understanding of what needs to be done to get Israel to play to its potential.

Reaching a first major tournament since 1970 is Gutman’s big goal, but after Israel’s last few campaigns, local supporters will be happy to simply settle for seeing the side give its all on the pitch, win or lose.

However, even when the Israel Football Association has finally got it right, it has made a mistake which could have a significant impact on Gutman’s chances of succeeding.

The IFA decided to hand Gutman just a two-year contract rather than fully put its faith in the man it has selected to lead the national team forward.

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Israel’s chances of reaching the 2014 World Cup already seem minuscule, even with the first kick of the campaign still more than nine months away.

Being placed in qualifying Group F with the strong Portugal and Russia, leaves Israel with little hope of finally progressing to a major tournament, despite Gutman’s optimism on Tuesday.

The tough draw combined with the consensus surrounding Gutman’s selection presented the IFA with an ideal opportunity to give the coach a four-year deal that would provide him with the time he needs to develop the team.

After all, the IFA would always have the option to sack him.

But Luzon & Co. never had any intention of relinquishing their hold over Gutman’s future, and with just a two-year deal, the coach will never be able to forget who is really in charge.

One of the only doubts regarding Gutman is the fact that he is a methodical and systematic coach and it may turn out that the little time he will have to work with the players as Israel boss will not be enough for him to instill his style of play.

The transition from coaching at a club level to an international one is always difficult, but the IFA could have given Gutman and the team a far greater chance of thriving had they taken the pressure off by handing him a fouryear deal and announcing that his work will only be judged after the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

There is no denying that the IFA has made the right decision by signing Gutman, which shouldn’t be taken for granted considering the Fernandez fiasco.

Gutman has the advantage of inheriting the blue-andwhite when the expectations are as low as they’ve been for a long time and he should benefit from the fact that more than 30 Israelis are currently playing in Europe.

The current crop of local players is as talented as Israel has had in over a decade and Gutman possess the requisite experience and expertise to get the best out of them.

Only time will tell if Gutman can end Israel’s long drought and lead it to a major tournament.

At least the IFA has finally given the national team a real chance of succeeding by actually putting the best man for the job at the helm, and Gutman has no intention of disappointing.

“I have realized half my dream by being named as the Israel coach,” Gutman said on Tuesday. “I want to realize the other half by qualifying for the World Cup.”

allon@jpost.com
Follow Allon on Twitter: @AllonSinai

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