Former coach Luis Fernandez to return to Betar

Gaydamak: Fernandez to work alongside current coach Itzhak Schum.

fernandez betar 224.88 (photo credit: Jeremy Last)
fernandez betar 224.88
(photo credit: Jeremy Last)
French coach Luis Fernandez is to return to Betar Jerusalem in the coming weeks to work alongside current coach Itzhak Schum, club owner Arkadi Gaydamak announced on Monday. There had been intense media speculation that Schum would be sacked and replaced by ex-Betar striker and coach Eli Ohana following the 5-0 defeat at Wisla Krakow last Wednesday which saw the team from the capital knocked out of the Champions League at the earliest stage possible. But Schum arrived at Gaydamak's Jerusalem offices along with club Chairman Eli Arazi and General Manager Itzik Korenfine, and sat quietly as Gaydamak told the assembled media that the loss to Krakow had prompted him to decide to stick with Schum but add an extra element in Fernandez. "We [Betar] have a very heavy responsibility to represent Israeli sports in the world. It is in our responsibility to do everything to compete, to play well, especially in international competition," Gaydamak began. Addressing the issue at hand, he continued: "It would be irresponsible to make dramatic changes. What we should do is to add to be better. For this reason we discussed in recent days with a very known international coach who already worked in Betar, Luis Fernandez, and he accepted to come and work at Betar. "We have not yet finalized all the formalities, but he gave his general approval to come and work with the existing team of coaches." Fernandez had a stormy six months at Betar in the 2005/06 season, even quitting after a loss to bottom-of-the-table Hapoel Kfar Saba in April 2006 before changing his mind and then leaving at the end of the season. The former Paris Saint Germain coach, who won the European Championship as a player with France, was initially brought in in the unspecific role of general manager above then coach Ton Caanen, but soon replaced Caanen as the man in control of team affairs. Even though there was tension when Fernandez worked with Caanen, Gaydamak insisted there would be no problems for Schum and Fernandez to work together. "They will start to work together and then we will see what the relationship will be, but I am convinced it will be very complimentary," he said. "Mr. Schum [proved himself], we are league champion and won the State Cup. It would be irresponsible to demolish what was built by the coach. Fernandez will bring his experience, his role, his vision." Since working at Betar, Fernandez spent half a season at Spanish team Real Betis, where he ended with a poor record of five wins, 16 draws and seven losses. After Gaydamak finished answering dozens of questions from the assembled media, Schum sat next to him to speak to the press. Schum insisted he had no problems working with Fernandez and will continue in his role in a similar manner.