Eli Gutman 311.
(photo credit: (Asaf Kliger))
Eli Gutman’s appointment as Israel coach may be overdue, but better late than
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.
The 53-year-old Gutman has seen and done
it all since beginning his coaching career more than 26 years ago.
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
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
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
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
After all, the IFA would always have the option to sack
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.
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
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
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
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
“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.”
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