Sinai Says: Our country's coaching calamity

Israel's top-flight soccer and basketball clubs have long been a coaching graveyard, but in the last few months matters have gotten completely out of hand.

Allon sinai 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Allon sinai 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel's top-flight soccer and basketball clubs have long been a coaching graveyard. In the last few months, however, matters have gotten completely out of hand. Since the start of local Premier League soccer season at the end of August, a third of the league's coaches have lost their jobs, while in the BSL, five of the league's 12 coaches were already sent packing with the season a mere six games old. I won't bore you with the details of each one of the sackings, as the stories behind the two latest firings alone are perfect examples of William Shakespeare's insight in Othello: "How poor are they who have not patience!" Indeed, it is precisely a lack of patience that lies at the root of this growing coaching pandemic in Israeli sports. From day one, Michel Dayan knew he would have a tough act to follow at Ironi Kiryat Shmona. In its first season ever in the league, Ran Ben-Shimon guided Kiryat Shmona to an amazing third-place finish and a UEFA Cup berth. After Ben-Shimon was lured by Maccabi Tel Aviv, Kiryat Shmona owner Izzy Shiratzky surprised everyone by naming Dayan as his successor. The 47-year-old had no previous Premier League experience, but Shiratzky was adamant that Dayan was the right man for the job and brushed aside any criticism of the appointment. Despite the club's mediocre budget and injury crisis, Dayan guided the team to a respectable 12 points from the first 12 matches of the season, winning three and drawing three matches. The team may have been just five points from the bottom of the standings, but was also only six points from fourth position. Nevertheless, Shiratzky obviously believed, for some reason, that the team is capable of repeating last season's stunning and one-off success and, after two consecutive defeats, he panicked and sacked Dayan last week. Kiryat Shmona still has no permanent replacement, as main target Nir Klinger decided to stay with Cypriot club AEP Paphos, and Shiratzky's unrealistic expectations and lack of patience could ultimately prove to be a very unsuccessful gamble. Ironi Kiryat Ata's decision to fire Meir Kaminski last week was equally irrational. After only barely meeting the BSL's minimum budget requirement, Kiryat Ata brought in Kaminski in the summer and handed him the almost impossible task of maintaining the team's BSL status. Kaminski did his best with the budget he was given, but could only guide his weak roster to one win in its first six games and was quickly shown the door. Kiryat Ata can't afford to replace players so its management went instead with the quick fix, sacking the underpaid coach. Like Kiryat Shmona, Kiryat Ata has also yet to name a long term replacement and the team's future prospects are far gloomier than they were prior to the coaching change. But the problem goes far beyond these two small clubs. In the Premier League, only Hakoakh Amidar Ramat Gan coach Dudu Dahan has been at his current club for more than a single season, and that's mainly because he guided the team to promotion last season. In the BSL, the situation is no better, with only the coaches of the newly-promoted Maccabi Haifa (Avi Ashkenazi) and Maccabi Givat Shmuel (Oren Aharoni) having been appointed to their positions prior to 2008. "Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet," Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote more than 2000 years ago. Sadly, the managements of the clubs in Israel's leading leagues still fail to comprehend this and continue to set themselves up for future failures with their rash decisions.