Caanen's role as Betar coach ends as Fernandez takes over

Soon after taking up position of head coach, tensions arose between Caanen and Betar owner Arkadi Gaydamak.

The Betar Jerusalem soap opera continued on Monday, with the latest episode likely to signify the end of the line for Dutch coach Ton Caanen. In a meeting held on Monday morning between Caanen, general manager Luis Fernandez and chairman Vladimir Shklar, Caanen was notified that he is no longer the Betar head coach and that all first-team coaching responsibilities have been transferred to Fernandez. Caanen arrived at the club in an advisor role six weeks ago and two weeks later took up the position of head coach. But soon after, Russian owner Arkadi Gaydamak brought former French international Fernandez to Betar in the newly created role of general manager. The tension between the two has been obvious since. Fernandez appeared satisfied after the meeting, held at the David Citadel Hotel where Caanen has been living since he arrived in Jerusalem. Fernandez said: "I am the exclusive professional authority at the club. Caanen will stay, but I will make the decisions." An official announcement by Betar read: "Club chairman Shklar and Fernandez met with Caanen on Monday morning and notified him that Fernandez is the main authority on all professional matters." Shklar, who was appointed by Gaydamak a fortnight ago, told The Jerusalem Post: "As of Monday Fernandez is the head coach of Betar's senior team. Caanen has been offered the opportunity to remain at the club and will be offered a job at the club if he decides to stay." Caanen asked for a few days to think about the offer. It is still unclear what job the Dutchman might be able to do at Betar if he decides to stay and the latest developments seem to be just one more step in him being pushed out of the club. "I'm disappointed and surprised by the decision to terminate my job as Betar coach. I will take a few days off and will make a decision concerning my future with my wife," Caanen said after hearing of the decision. "I asked Fernandez that if he is the manager and he is the coach, what is left for me to do. I was told that they don't know yet. I know Betar want me to stay and it's important for me to stay," Caanen concluded. Caanen was joint coach with Israeli Guy Azuri for a mere five matches, winning three, drawing one and losing one. His dismissal came exactly one month after he led Betar on the field for the first time in the 3-2 win over Ashdod SC. Since he began working with the team Caanen has brought an optimism to both the players and the club's fanatic supporters, who have sung his name before and after each game. Notable successes have come in away matches against Bnei Yehuda two weeks ago and Maccabi Tel Aviv last week, both won by a 3-2 scoreline. Speaking to Sport 5, Caanen added: "I spoke with Vladimir and Arkadi Gaydamak and they said they are very pleased with my work and they hope we can stay together and work together. "I said maybe I am wrong but maybe you should tell someone what is the role [being offered] and then they can make a decision. "I said 'listen, if you really dont want Ton Caanen then be a man and me tell to my face to go. If you really dont want me then treat me as a human'." "In the coming days I hope my mind and soul make the right decision."