Local Soccer: Atar makes second return as Maccabi Netanya coach

Local Soccer Atar makes

Despite being pushed out of Maccabi Netanya twice previously, Reuven Atar is back coaching the club he led to second place in the Israeli Premier League in 2007 and 2008. The 40-year-old was announced as Nati Azariya's replacement on Tuesday after last season's assistant coach was sacked following a disastrous start to the 2009/10 campaign. Netanya is still searching for its first league win, drawing two and losing two of its four matches so far. "I'm happy to be back at Netnaya. This club will always be a home to me," said Atar, who has been out of work since guiding Betar Jerusalem to State Cup glory last season. "Despite the team's difficult position in the standings I believe that much more can be achieved with this squad." Maccabi gained international coverage in the summer of 2008 when owner Daniel Jammer brought former Germany captain Lothar Matthaus in to coach the side. But a disappointing season and the economic crisis forced Jammer to let Matthaus leave and put Azariya in charge. Atar, who has signed a three-year contract, led Netanya to promotion from the National League in the 2004/05 season, his first full campaign in control. However, when Jammer took control of the club in the summer of 2006 and brought in Eyal Berkovic as general manager, Atar was left with no real option but to leave. Current Hapoel Tel Aviv coach, Eli Gutman, took the place of Berkovic who quit before the 2006/07 season even started, but after just seven months Jammer realized he had made a mistake and brought Atar back. In the subsequent two seasons, Atar led Netanya to the runners-up position and an historic European appearance. But Jammer thought nothing of leaving Atar out in the cold once more, preferring 1990 World Cup winner Matthaus last year. Matthaus could not match Atar's accomplishments and left after the club only managed a fourth place finish last season. Jammer decided to slash the club's budget ahead of this season and named the inexperienced Azariya as coach. The unproven coach and young squad struggled desperately and Netanya's 1-0 loss to Hapoel Ramat Gan on Saturday sealed Azariya's fate. "I'm happy that Reuvan signed and that our season will start today," Jammer said on Tuesday. "It is unbelievable that from a strong situation we have come to this state. I made a mistake but I corrected it now."