Luzon should hope his team rescues his reputation

Sinai Says: Should Israel exceed expectations over the coming fortnight, Luzon will rightfully be hailed as the mastermind behind the success.

June 5, 2013 05:51
2 minute read.

GUY LUZON announces signing with Belgian club Standard Liege. (photo credit: Adi Avishai)

Scrutiny is nothing new for Guy Luzon.

However, the Israel Under- 21 national team coach faces unprecedented pressure starting Wednesday, with his every step, word and decision to come under the microscope.

To guide the home team in the European Championship is always going to be a stressful experience, but for Luzon it will be far tougher.

Expectations may not be so high considering that Israel was handed a place in the tournament as the host and that it plays powerhouses England and Italy in Group A, as well as Norway, which it welcomes at Netanya in the opener on Wednesday.

But that will be of little help to the under-fire Luzon.

The 37-year-old coach believes he faces unfair criticism due to his surname and he is, in part, correct.

At the same time, he has also received several significant shortcuts in his coaching career by virtue of being the nephew of controversial Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon.

Despite the harsh, but generally accurate, critique leveled at the Luzons when the uncle named the nephew as coach of the Under-21 side almost three years ago, Guy had managed with time to rewrite his reputation, until last week that is.

While the Under-21 team was limited to friendly matches (as it wasn’t required to qualify for the championship) Luzon’s side impressed with its level of performance and infectious team spirit.

But all of the hard work by the promising coach was forgotten in seconds last Monday.

Luzon revealed he would be joining Belgian club Standard Liege following the tournament, a stunning development considering both the prestige of his next job and the timing of the announcement.

While it is hard, although not unreasonable, to expect Luzon to forgo a chance to coach a well-respected European club, it was no doubt a grave mistake to have agent Dudu Dahan sitting alongside him in the official press conference.

Luzon embarrassingly showered Dahan with compliments before listening to the agent praise himself on his latest accomplishment.

Almost immediately, Luzon’s inappropriate and harmful conduct saw him lose all the credit he had toiled for over recent years.

Not surprisingly, tough questions were raised regarding Luzon’s squad selection and if perhaps Dahan may influence who plays for the blue-and-white.

There is no reason to believe Luzon would stray so far away from professional codes, but it was his inexplicable behavior that opened the door to such accusations, blemishing the entire team.

Should Israel exceed expectations over the coming fortnight, Luzon will rightfully be hailed as the mastermind behind the success and his promotion to Liege will only seem natural.

However, the first to be blamed should the team disappoint in its group games over the next week will undoubtedly be Luzon, who will yet again be helpless in the face of his portrayal as a master manipulator who owes his status to his connections rather than his talents.

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