The Last Word: The absurdity of the Israeli managerial merry-go-round

Professional sport is supposed to be about true competition, giving your all for your club and its fans.

jeremy last 88 (photo credit: )
jeremy last 88
(photo credit: )
Professional sport is supposed to be about true competition, giving your all for your club and its fans, rather than just going through the motions. But the recent round of announcements regarding the movement of coaches from one top level soccer team to another have tarnished the image of the game in Israel, making a mockery of the serious nature of the league system. It was bad enough when rumors of Ironi Kiryat Shmona coach Ran Ben-Shimon expected move to Maccabi Tel Aviv this coming summer were practically confirmed by those close to the teams. With Maccabi in a relegation battle it is unlikely Ben-Shimon will be too keen on encouraging his Kiryat Shmona players to win their Premier League game against Maccabi Tel Aviv when the two clubs meet in just over a week's time. But at least there has been no official announcement, however correct the rumors apparently are. Maccabi Haifa's announcement on Wednesday that current Bnei Sakhnin coach Elisha Levy will be taking over from Roni Levy as the club's first team coach from next season was far more troubling, as were the announcements well before the end of the season that Ben-Shimon and Roni Levy will definitely be leaving their jobs in a month's time. Haifa chairman Jacob Shachar proudly revealed E. Levy as R. Levy's replacement and attempted to defend himself against any critics by stressing that he waited till after the last Haifa vs Sakhnin game of the season before he confirmed the appointment. What Shachar appears not to have noticed is that his club is currently in a vicious battle with Sakhnin and Maccabi Netanya for the coveted second and third positions in the league which guarantee a place in Europe next season (Betar Jerusalem is practically guaranteed top spot and a place in the Champions league qualifiers). There can now be no doubt at all that E. Levy's mind is taken up with his prospects at Haifa next season, and the last thing he will want to do is to scupper any chance he will have of coaching a team in the 2008/09 UEFACup. This is to say nothing of the effect these early announcement must have on the players and the fans. How many Haifa players will believe that R. Levy is totally committed to Haifa when they know he is leaving in a few months. These going-on have bordered on the absolute absurd, and nobody in any position of power seems to want to do anything about them but sit around and scratch their heads. When questioned on the issue, Israel Football Association spokesman Gil Lebanony told this newspaper on Thursday that there is nothing he can say as there are no FIFA laws governing the movement of coaches from club to club during the season. If this is true, then action must be taken. IFA chiefs should not allow chairmen like Shachar to make such decisions until the league season is totally over.