Paulo Sousa and Jordi Cruyff Maccai Tel Aviv370.
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
New Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Paulo Sousa held his first training session at Kiryat
Shalom on Wednesday morning before highlighting humility, hard work and courage
as the main attributes he hopes to instill in his team.
Portuguese coach was named as Oscar Garcia’s successor last week and will not
have long to adjust to his new surroundings, with Maccabi beginning its
Champions League qualifying campaign in less than four weeks.
refused to comment on Maccabi’s chances of qualifying for the Champions League
group stage and insisted his goal is to improve his players and that results
will ultimately follow.
“For me it’s an honor to be here,” said Sousa.
“It is not easy to find a club where we can match ideas, vision and
personalities. My idea is to take it day by day. I want to see my players
enjoying coming to training. We will aim to win every game and this is the
mentality that we want to have here in our club. We want to build the club up
and improve players. For me the most important thing is that this is a team
which is looking to continue and develop.”
Sousa enjoyed an illustrious
playing career for Benfica, Sporting Lisbon, Juventus, Borussia Dortmund, Inter
Milan, Parma, Panathinaikos and Espanyol, winning the Champions League on two
However, he has experienced far less success as a coach, only
spending short stints at QPR, Swansea City and Leicester City in the English
After less than three months he was fired from Leicester
following a poor start to the season and in May 2011 he signed with newly
crowned Hungarian champion Videoton. The team ended his only full season at the
helm in the runners-up position before reaching the Europa League group stage at
the start of the 2012/13 campaign.
Four months later in January of this
year he left the club, citing personal reasons.
sports director Jordi Cruyff insisted on Wednesday that Sousa was the
yellow-and-blue’s first option and that the club didn’t even approach any other
“It’s the start of a new season and hopefully we will have the
same success as last year,” Cruyff said. “I’m very happy to bring Sousa on board
at Maccabi. He was always our only option. We spoke to him for a long time and
we believe he has the right profile to bring us further.”
that Sousa can pick up where Oscar left off and build on last season’s league
title, the club’s first in 10 years.
“I felt we made a step forward last
year,” Cruyff explained. “Oscar helped us take the first important step but
unfortunately he decided to leave and we needed a person who would continue in a
similar direction but help us take a step further.”
Cruyff also refused
to speak about Maccabi’s prospects in the Champions League, but hinted that the
club has high expectations.
“Twelve months ago we sat here saying we want
to be a club of doers, not talkers,” he said. “But of course we are super
ambitious. The fact that we don’t want to say it doesn’t mean we don’t want to
Cruyff confirmed that star striker Eliran Atar is set to leave
the club for France, with last season’s top scorer expected to wrap up a move to
Stade de Reims in the coming days.
“He personally called me to ask that
we don’t block him from realizing his dream, which is to go to France where his
contract is a lot more than any Israeli club can offer,” Cruyff
“Who are we to tell a player that you are not allowed to follow
your dream and play in a top-six league?”