Sinai Says: Nimni should be blamed for Maccabi Tel Aviv's failures

"The one-man team is a complete and total myth," legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula once said.

October 9, 2007 05:48
2 minute read.
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"The one-man team is a complete and total myth," legendary Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula once said. He was obviously not familiar with Avi Nimni. Captain, star midfielder, general manager, take your pick, Nimni holds every one of those positions. The Maccabi fans seem to be the only ones to have captured Nimni's influence over happenings at the club in one word. They refer to their idol as the "king." It's simple, catchy and, sadly for the once great club, absolutely true. Two months into the season Tel Aviv finds itself in total disarray. Four losses and one draw in the first five matches of the Premier League season means the club faces the very real possibility of a fight against relegation. The proud team, which is the only Israeli club to never have been relegated from the top division, seems to hit new lows on a weekly basis. Just when you think things can't get any worse, they do. Many factors have played a role in Maccabi's downfall, but most of the blame should be shouldered by Nimni. His dip in form on the field is understandable. No one expects the 35-year-old former Israel captain to play at the level he did in the past. Nimni is, nevertheless, fully responsible for the way Tel Aviv has performed in recent months, due to his decision to take on the role of general manager at the end of last season. Nimni was at the center of every important decision made at the club ahead of this season. He helped pick the players and coach, who are not only failing to register the expected results, but are doing so in embarrassing fashion. The main problem is not who Nimni signed to the club, but that he continues to maintain his role in the team's lineup as well as his managerial position. "Make sure that team members know they are working with you, not for you," celebrated UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said. Maccabi could have avoided its disastrous start to the season had Nimni memorized Wooden's insight. Just imagine how Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin must feel. He's supposed to give instructions and even discipline the man who will decide at the end of the season if he's to get a contract extension. How can any of the Maccabi players possibly play to their potential when one of their teammates is the same man who they negotiated their contract with only a few weeks previously. Maccabi is caught in a downward spiral with no end in sight. Nimni has practically singlehandedly guided his team out of trouble with his superb skill many times in the past. Once more he holds the key to his side's revival. It's not an easy decision to make, but Nimni must choose. Player or general manager - the team can't be successful with him doing both.

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