Israel, I find, is a foreign country. They do things differently here.
Like starting the season with four cup games against other Premier League teams, in the group stage of something called the Premier League Toto Cup.
Which I quite like, since it gives us, as a newly promoted team, the chance to measure ourselves against Premier League opposition without anyone worrying too much about the outcome.
It’s the league wot matters, as I confirmed to the press.
I’m sitting in my office, chatting to Rozental about which players to pick for which games and he says, ‘What about Lipenia?’
Until now, I’ve been quietly pleased with my assistant manager. But now I start to worry. Savity Lipenia is here on trial, helping me to gauge how much difference a big centre-back ─ one who can actually head the thing ─ might make. If Rozental hasn’t registered that, how much other detail has passed him by?
‘Lipenia’s on trial,’ I say, managing to adopt a neutral tone that conceals the derision I feel.
‘But he’s Congolese,’ replies Rozental.
Is Sebastian on something? I begin to wonder whether I should be seriously worried. Lipenia is on trial AND Congolese, I think. And, not but.
‘He’s still on trial,’ I say. ‘I don’t think they make a dispensation for foreigners.’
I say this in the gentlest humorous tone I can achieve, so he won’t be offended.
‘You’re wrong there, boss.’
And, blow me down, when I locate the PDF with the competition rules on, it turns out he’s right. Foreign players on trial can play in the Toto Cup.
Well done, Seb, for noticing that. But if he’d only told me earlier, I could have imported a whole team of foreigners and had a go at winning the blessed thing.
What a stupid rule!
Although, when I think about it, if you did import a team of triallists, you’d lose the opportunity to assess your own players and they’d lose match fitness and also confidence in the manager.
So not such a stupid rule. Just different.
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