Garcia has yellow-and-blue buzzing again

Lofty expectations remain even with Mac TA back atop standings in Spaniard’s first year.

Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer coach Oscar Garcia 370 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer coach Oscar Garcia 370
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
With Maccabi Tel Aviv not claiming a Premier League championship since the 2002/03 season, you can hardly blame the yellow-and-blue faithful for getting excited about their team’s current position atop of the standings.
However, Maccabi coach Oscar Garcia’s approach is far more focused on the short-term.
He didn’t even utter the word championship during an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.
Maccabi leads arch-rival Hapoel Tel Aviv on goal difference after 12 matches, with both teams winning nine games and losing three.
But Oscar claimed he has only got the team’s next practice and match in mind rather than bigger distant goals.
“I want to think only of the next practice,” he said. “In the end we will see where the football puts the team in the table. We are where we are because we are always only focusing on the next few days. If we don’t do this we will have problems.”
Despite the encouraging start to the season, Oscar is far from content with his team’s performances.
“Always we can play better,” he said.
“I’m not satisfied with any game because always I can find some things I want to do better. But I’m happy the way we are going. We want to improve on last season. Maccabi finished last season in sixth position and I think we can improve on that.”
The expectations from the yellowand- blue are far greater than the way Oscar portrayed it, but the 39-year-old Spaniard insisted that should not be the case considering Maccabi’s recent title drought.
“The history of the last 10 years says another thing,” Oscar noted in his Spanish-accented English. “This is my first year here and when you have a foreign coach the team and the coach need time to understand each other so I am happy because we started very well.
However, we have to continue and improve.”
Oscar claimed that one of his team’s biggest issues is its lack of consistency.
“One of the things I want is for my team to play 90 minutes at the same level,” he said. “Not 45 minutes at a very good level and then 30 minutes in a worse level.”
Oscar spent the last two years coaching the Barcelona youth team after a successful playing career which saw him score 21 goals in 69 league appearances for the Blaugrana, as well as play for the likes of Valencia and Espanyol.
However, he is guiding a senior team for the first time in his career and admitted on Wednesday that it has been a real learning experience.
“I wanted to take this step. I think that if I want to be a good coach I had to take this step and start to train professional players and this is a very good team to start with,” he said.
“The problems of the youth and senior players are different and this is the most important change. The young players have easy problems, but professional players have family, they are earning money and if they don’t play it is difficult for them.
“But I want to have this experience and for sure I am improving very much as a coach. I’ve learned a lot and I hope and expect the players are learning a lot to.”
Oscar said he is really enjoying his stay in Israel and that Tel Aviv is a great city, though he could have done without the rocket sirens during Operation Pillar of Defense last month.
“The first time I heard the siren I was worried like all the players, but after I saw that all the people here were calm I didn’t worry,” explained Oscar, whose family has stayed in Spain.
“The last thing that worried me was the bus explosion, but a few hours later there was a ceasefire and everything was calm.”
Oscar found himself embroiled in controversy last month after he flew to Belgium to meet representatives from Club Brugge, which was interested in his services.
He claimed that he never considered leaving the yellow-and-blue and reiterated that point on Wednesday.
“I think the fans are proud to have a coach which many teams want,” he said.
“I have a contract for two years and I want to coach Maccabi in Europe next season. That is all I can say. This is my personal objective, but I think the way to achieve this target is to think of the practice tomorrow and the next game against Betar Jerusalem. This is the way.