Local Soccer: Matthaus says he wants to bring the glory days back to Maccabi Netanya

Club owner: German will be given large enough budget to build team he feels is good enough to win the Israeli league.

lothar matthaus 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
lothar matthaus 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Lothar Matthaus will be given a large enough budget to build the team he feels is good enough to win the Israeli league, Maccabi Netanya owner Daniel Jammer said at a press conference introducing the club's new coach on Monday. Although Reuven Atar is still in charge of team affairs, and Netanya has yet to secure a UEFA Cup spot for next season, the former World Cup winning captain was formally introduced to the Israeli media for the first time at Monday afternoon's event in Netanya. Matthaus, who played for Germany a record 150 times, initially appeared a little uneasy in the spotlight, telling reporters "I don't like to speak so much. I'm happy to be here." But soon the ex-Hungarian national team manager, who won league titles as a coach in Austria and Serbia, settled down and showed the professionalism you would expect of an international star. In an effort to stress that he intends to retain a large part of the current Netanya squad, Matthaus set out his plan. "A coach alone cannot win games, he needs good staff and good players. We will give our best to make Netanya champions again, but this means we have to work very hard from the first day with a lot of discipline," he said. "I really hope I can give my best and give the fans what they have been waiting for for the last 25 years," Matthaus added, referring to 1983 when Netanya won the last of its five Israeli league titles. When questioned on his planned budget for the club, Jammer refused to come up with a figure. "Lothar Matthaus [being here] is enough proof of the direction I want to push my club," Jammer said. "Lothar Matthaus will identify what we need, and we will do whatever is reasonable for the situation and Israeli market." Talking specifically about the players, Matthaus said: "At the moment we want to build and have good players. Betar Jerusalem won the title for a second year [last weekend] but next year we want to give our best to change the situation." Asked about what he expects will happen to promising youngsters such as Itai Shechter, who has been linked with Betar Jerusalem, Matthaus said he believed "good players must stay in Netanya. This is obligation." Netanya was emphatically beaten by Betar Jerusalem 3-0 in the league on Saturday, but Atar has had an enormously succesful two seasons in charge. Jammer insisted that he had not "laid off" the coach, rather that his contract had expired and it was time for a change. "I can tell everyone today, Reuven Atar and me do not have problems. Two years in sport is not like working in a factory - the pressure, the media - usually every two years you need changes," Jammer said. And in a statement reminiscent of Arkadi Gaydamak's offer to Dutch coach Ton Caanen in November 2005 at the press conference introducing Luis Fernandez as Betar Jerusalem's general manager, Jammer even said he would be happy for Atar to continue at the club. "Reuven Atar has an open door in Netanya, he is a friend and this will never change. I would like Reuven to maybe stay in the team, maybe as a second coach under Matthaus," he said, before stressing "I consider Matthaus number one." It is, however, unlikely Atar will continue at Netanya, especially after Jammer later stated that the situation with Atar, "is a part which is finishing now and maybe in the future there will be another part."