Venceremos 2.15

To The Promised Land

Interesting how writing a blog changes your perception. Having explained in recent posts that Hapoel Ashkelon FC are in a mini-league for European qualification but have no realistic chance of qualifying, I found myself writing that we had ‘nothing to lose’.

Writing that brought the fact home to me. It made me think, apart from the changes I’ve already reported (tactics, captaincy), what else could I and should I change.

Loyal readers of this blog (shout out for Sam Latham) will know that I have plenty of respect for Seb Rozental, the assistant manager (AM) whom I appointed at the end of my first day in charge. He has many strengths: he helps to maintain discipline, he doesn’t give up easily, and he adapts to circumstances.

But he’s also limited. He doesn’t inspire people. The reports he provides me betray a somewhat limited understanding of tactics. And he’s the weak link in our coaching set up. We’ve sent him on a coaching course but aren’t seeing the rewards: he’s had to be given extra time to complete the course.

I hate to say it, but I think he’s reached his ceiling. The club has gone as far as we can with him: time for an upgrade.

The replacement I have in mind is Recep Çetin. Everything I hear about him tells me he’s a determined guy with all the mental qualities you’d require of an AM. He has experience of coaching for big teams in Turkey.

But there’s a problem. We use Rozental to train technique, but that’s not Çetin’s bag. Çetin is a defence (or fitness) coach.

But that makes me think: Diego Placente’s has done a decent job for us as defence coach – from Diego we have seen the fruits of taking qualifications – but he’s limited. Defence coaching is all he does, which limits the flexibility of the team. And he’s no disciplinarian, which perhaps explains why some players have not adhered well to their training programmes.

So if I can find a decent technical coach, the problem’s solved: I bring in Çetin, allocate him to defence coaching, and deploy the new coach to replace Rozental.

The coach I want, I decide, is Matuzalem. Word is, he’s good at technical coaching, attack coaching, and mental coaching too. And he is a disciplinarian.

Unfortunately, like Çetin, he doesn’t speak Hebrew. I’m getting concerned by how much of the club’s resources we’re blowing on language courses. Why can’t we all speak Esperanto? (Why doesn’t FM even recognise that language?) At least he’ll be able to speak to our new captain, Aykut Yenen, in Turkish.

I decide I’ll pay to enrol Çetin, but not Matuzalem. Matuzalem, who is Brazilian, can speak Portuguese, Spanish, English and Italian and can get by in Russian and Ukrainian. That tells me he’s a linguist, so perhaps he’ll pick up Hebrew without going on a course. Besides, several of the players can speak English or Spanish.

So it’s Rozental and Placente out (with thanks, good wishes, and strong references) and Çetin and Matuzalem in.

In the space of a couple of weeks or so I’ve appointed a new captain, brought in a new assistant manager and coach, and introduced a radically new tactic.

!Venceremos, as Che used to say.