The Last Word: Berkovic’s job application was embarrassing

Desperate times may well call for desperate measures, but surely there is a limit.

By JEREMY LAST
February 19, 2010 07:12
3 minute read.

 
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Desperate times may well call for desperate measures, but surely there is a limit.

Even in this dismal financial climate, those applying for top jobs must employ a degree of self-respect while trying to impress potential employers.

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Unfortunately for Eyal Berkovic, the former soccer superstar once known as “The Magician,” self-respect didn’t seem to enter his mind during the bizarre 30-minute press conference he convened at Tel Aviv’s Hilton Hotel on Wednesday.

In hindsight, the ex-Maccabi Haifa, West Ham and Manchester City midfielder might have thought it better to have considered sending his resume to the Israel Football Association headquarters or even calling up IFA chairman Avi Luzon for a friendly chat.

But it is way, way too late for that.

What began as a rant about why he not only should, but will, be the next Israel coach, quickly erupted into an embarrassing attack on Israeli sports media personalities, including some who also work as coaches of the national youth teams.

Under-19 team coach Eli Ohana came in for some particularly fierce criticism from Berkovic, who dismissed him for repeatedly saying Berkovic does not have enough experience for the job.



Ohana isn’t one for taking things lying down and soon hit back at Berkovic, branding him an “idiot.”

“Until today I was against Eyal Berkovic on principle, but now I am against Eyal Berkovic on a personal level,” Ohana said.

Ironically, only hours after Berkovic’s half hour outburst it was announced that Ohana will act as temporary coach for the senior team’s friendly against Romania next month as the IFA has yet to find a replacement for current coach Dror Kashtan.

But it wasn’t just Berkovic’s rude approach which left him looking like the cat who will never get the cream. His entire methodology was mistaken from the start.

He sat in front of two microphones fidgeting with his jacket while showing off a document he has produced to prove that he is the only candidate who should be considered.

At one point, Berkovic claimed that the entire country wants him to be the Israel coach, before quickly correcting himself by saying only 90 percent backed him.

Berkovic was right to say that experience is not the only factor those appointing a national team coach must consider and that the best performances come from the heart.

However, the man who takes up a position as significant as this must have a far greater understanding of the game. The job entails much more than just inspiring the players to wear their hearts on their sleeves.

Tactical experience is paramount, as is the ability to deal with disputes within a team.

The national coach is also an international ambassador, a representative of the Jewish state who must be able to hold it together in front of massive crowds while under the most intense pressure.

Berkovic proved on Wednesday that he has none of these attributes, and would likely make a massive mess of the national team given the chance.

In the last week, former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni has emerged as the leading candidate, a man who has vital experience leading Italy to the last European Championships.

Much has been made of whether the next coach should be an Israeli or a foreigner. This debate misses the point entirely. The individual running the team should be the best man for the job, wherever he comes from; it just happens that the foreigners being considered have far greater knowledge of the international game.

There are a number of Israelis who have impressed in recent years, from Eli Gutman to Elisha Levy. But Berkovic’s campaign illustrated just why the man with one of the shortest fuses in Israeli soccer must be ruled out of the running immediately.

jeremy@jpost.com

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