[I have selected a soundtrack (‘All out attack’) to be played whilst reading this post]
The play-offs for European places didn’t go so well for Hapoel Ashkelon FC. Of the six teams in the mini-league, we finished sixth, winning only one game. It’s rather tarnished the season: I wish the league could have come to an end after 26 matches, when every team had played each other twice.
We weren’t completely outclassed, except in one match against run-away champions, Hapoel Be’er-Sheva. Our goal difference for the 10 matches was minus 2 (9 for, 11 against). But we drew matches we should have won and lost matches we should have drawn.
We conceded too many goals late on.
Afterwards I sat down with Seb Rozental, my assistant manager, to analyse the reasons for our failure.
‘Do you think we were positive enough?’ he asks. ‘Should we have had a go more?’
By ‘we’ he means ‘I’. And he isn’t really asking me, he’s telling me.
And he’s right. I kept trying to close games downs. I should have been bolder.
‘I think I should have trusted the players more,’ I conceded. ‘Deep down, I didn’t think they were good enough – but I should have put that to the test.’
We also agreed that our selection policy had been over-disciplined. I didn’t select any of the players who didn’t like big matches. And I was reluctant to omit those who did like them. Perfectly logical, of course – but we ended up not drawing on some talents that might have proved useful and we certainly ended up with insufficient competition for players.
Plus we just didn’t have the talent. Too many weaknesses to play in Europe. We finished no lower than we deserved.
‘Still,’ Seb added, ‘It’s by far the highest position this club has ever reached’.
I like working with Seb.