Beitar Jerusalem. Love ‘em or hate ‘em, you never quite know what you’re going to get. If you look at the club’s year in, year out performance it’s kind of a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type of situation. One year it’s battling for the title and the next it could be fighting to stay away from the relegation zone. Some years there’s fan protests against everyone from the CEO, Chairman and Mascot and other years where the owner is king.
However, one thing is certain when it comes to Beitar Jerusalem, there is never a dull moment.
You may think you have seen it all, you may think you’ve experienced every high and low that Beitar Jerusalem can give you and you may think it can never ever get better or never ever get worse. Of course, that’s until the next chapter is written. It just seems that when it comes to Beitar Jerusalem the constant soap opera just never ceases.
From Chechens to Gaydamak, from back-to-back championships to State Cup victories the fans have been through the ultimate roller coaster. It always seems that the roller coaster never quite stops and if it ever does, it may spell the end of Beitar Jerusalem. The team survives and thrives on the constant controversy that surrounds it. Without that extra umph, who knows where Beitar Jerusalem would be today.
Take a look at their fans, the majority of which have certain political beliefs that are not accepted by all, show that on many of an occasions can certainly can bring out the best in how football supporters should be. On the flip side they can also bring out the worst and you don’t have to look further than the songs they sing welcoming the club onto the pitch or what went on in Charleroi this past summer during UEFA Europa League qualification.
Beitar Jerusalem can bring you to the highest of highs, the lowest of lows and the ironies of ironies. Let’s take winger Itay Shecter for a moment. The Yellow-and-Black’s number 9 just moved over from the Greens during the January transfer window had been vilified and left on the scrap heap after disappointing with the Sammy Ofer side.
The Israeli International came to Beitar with Haifa still paying for a huge portion of his salary, has not only been a G-d send for the Jerusalem club but also had a hand in all three goals against his former club. Unbelievable! Shecter headed in the first goal, had the second assist on goal number two and created the turnover leading to birthday boy Dan Einbinder’s marker by stripping Marc Valiente of the ball deep in Haifa territory.
If you’re a Haifa fan it was a brutal, brutal evening. To witness a player that YOU are paying dominating the game is not something that some could bear to watch. Beitar cut off the passing lanes, had magnificent play by the defenders especially Jesus Rueda and Tal Kahila and ran after every single ball like it was the Champions League final.
Roni Levi, Haifa’s boss had no answers. Eliran Atar, Ludovic Obraniak and co. couldn’t breakthrough Slobodan Drapic’s iron curtain. The second half saw very few chances generated by Haifa and credit has to be given to Beitar’s tactical genius and his game plan, one Drapic. He couldn’t have outwitted his former master any better than Darth Vader taking down Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars.
But ultimately the individual who must get full credit for creating an exciting, attacking, full fledged football club is owner Eli Tabib. Love him or hate him, Tabib knows football, plain and simple. He just gets it. Point blank, he’s Beitar’s best scout, best negotiator and best navigator through the Israeli football waters.
He’s found players in all kinds of places and given the tools with which coach Drapic can use to create havoc for the league and be a legitimate force sitting in third place behind just Maccabi Tel Aviv and Hapoel Beer Sheva both with much bigger budgets than Beitar’s. In fact as we head into the playoff round in a meet few weeks, Beitar could be the king makers and actually play spoiler and decider of who will win the championship.
You can’t take away the fact that Tabib is one of the brightest negotiators on the planet and we’ve seen him operate as owner of Kfar Saba and Hapoel Tel Aviv in the past. It’s as if he is the Teflon man. Did Tabib outwit the Israel FA, the league and the courts over the whole radius circus this past week? We’ll find out. But you can bet one thing, he’s a confident fox who knows how to manipulate the system and juice out a result in his favor that’s for certain.
The question that still remains is if he can keep his clientele happy and busy so they don’t go off the deep end which we’ve experienced time and time again. So far he has succeeded and one of the reasons is that he has put a winning team on the pitch. One in his image. Tough, wily, intelligent, cunning and confident. Should Beitar continue this way for the rest of the season, the league, fans and all those in the Israeli footy world will reap the benefits of a team that everyone just loves to hate, and one when strong with its passionate fan base only lifts up the league.
However, as they say time will tell with the next controversy just around the corner when it comes to Beitar. But for now, let them come, let them play attractive football and of course with Beitar there is never a dull moment.