(photo credit: sinai)
Luis Fernandez’s appointment as the new Israel coach is not only destined to end in failure, but is also doomed to turn into a complete and utter farce.
Some will argue that the 50-year-old Frenchman has the requisite experience anda knowledge to help the national team. However, those two advantages are rendered completely meaningless when you also consider the fact that he has failed time and again in recent years on the big stage and will have enormous problems communicating with his players, as speaks neither English nor Hebrew.
Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon promised himself and the public that after Dror Kashtan’s embarrassing campaign he would bring in a top foreign coach to finally guide the team to a first major tournament since the 1970 World Cup.
However, it soon became painfully evident that, as a public institution, the IFA could not realistically spend the minimum NIS 10 million annually which would be needed to bring in a star name, leaving Luzon to search for a cheaper and shoddier alternative.
Despite realizing relatively early in the process that he would not be able to sign his dream coach, Luzon had no intention of swallowing his pride and perhaps giving one of the local candidates a chance. Rather, he stubbornly insisted on hiring a coach from overseas and, as a result, was left with no real option but to compromise for Fernandez.
While the fact that the Frenchman coached Betar Jerusalem for five months between November 2005 and April 2006 does indeed give him a marginal advantage over any other foreign manager, that perceived benefit will end up proving to be of no real significance.
Fernandez, who will take the helm in May, may have already acquired an insight into the many problems plaguing Israeli soccer players during his time in the country. However, in handing him an 18-month contract, the IFA made crystal clear that it is, completely unrealistically, looking for immediate results rather than the methodical long-term approach needed to transform Israel to a more accomplished team.
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Making matters even worse is the fact that Fernandez will be coaching a national side for the first time in his career and will have to get used to only seeing his players and practicing as a group on a very rare basis, leaving him precious little time to make a meaningful impact on their development.
However, infrequent coaching sessions and the glaring reality that Fernandez has not lasted a full season at a club since 2003 are insignificant drawbacks compared to the troubling fact that he is lacking in the most basic criterion needed to lead a team.
The cliché that soccer is an international language is a nice fairy-tale notion. However, the fact that Fernandez will have to rely on a translator to communicate with his players is completely ludicrous and will mean he’ll have little to no influence on the players he is supposed to coach.
Anyone watching the short press conference on Sunday in which Fernandez was introduced quickly realized how much information was lost in translation and how difficult it is going to be for the coach to transfer accurate and insightful instructions to Israel’s players.
Even the perfect coach was bound to struggle in the immediate future to
succeed with Israel’s mediocre squad, not to mention one who cannot
even speak to the players.
With a young and promising core of talent entering the national team,
this would have been an ideal opportunity to name a coach who could
build for the future.
Instead, Luzon opted for a man who peaked last century and hasn’t even
graced a sideline since relegating Stade de Reims to the third French
division last summer.
I’d be more than happy to be proven wrong, but all the indications
point to one simple conclusion – Fernandez is the wrong person, at the
wrong place, at the wrong time, and in all likelihood his tenure will
prove to be no more than a pathetic waste of firstname.lastname@example.org
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