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Maccabi Tel Aviv – Gili Vermouth & Building a Dynasty

Welcome Gili! Courtesy Maccabi Tel Aviv Website

Gili Vermouth was the name of the day this past Tuesday. The last Hapoel Tel Aviv star finally made the long rumored move to Tel Aviv rivals, Maccabi and technical director Jordi Cryuff came out the big winner as the transfer window closed in Israel.

The rich got richer certainly did happen with Vermouth headed to the yellow-and-blue since the club has the deepest pockets in Israel which was able to help out the cash strapped Reds. However, that fact will sting the loyal Hapoel fans to the death seeing their only star player leave the club. According to a statement put out by Maccabi, Vermut requested the transfer and this was not the case of Hapoel having a fire sale. But we all know the truth in that matter.

Haim Ramon who has headed the club management the past couple of years had no choice but to sell Vermouth and sell him to the highest bidder as he had been unable to find a suitable buyer for the team. But that will not be the way the Reds non profit and supporters network will ever see this move. They will look at it as a slap in the face especilly when Vermouth had been saying he would be with the club and the club said the same. To sell Vermut was bad, for him to go to Maccabi was even worse.

The site of Vermouth in the yellow and blue of Maccabi would make any Hapoel Tel Aviv fan’s stomach turn. But that’s what happened today when he donned the 

For Hapoel this was a stinging move. Supporters ripped up their season ticket passes. They went to protest outside the homes of Ramon and NPO chief Barry Bar Zev. They were at the Hapoel practice today as the rest of their loyalists just shake their heads not believing what had transpired.

How did this once proud franchise fall from grace? Israel State Cup champs, league leaders with stars galore? What happened? It seems that we’ve seen this exact same story just a number of years ago with Beitar Jerusalem. 

A combination of poor management, overspending, ownership issues ran rife at Hapoel the past few years. From Mony Harel and Eli Tabib(yes, that Tabib who now owns Beitar) to the fans and Ramon there’s a lot of blame to go around.

Beitar Jerusalem is still paying for those years when Arkady Gaydamak spent, and spent and spent to put a winner on the pitch. Was it worth it? That’s the question the Hapoel supporters have to ask themselves as they see what has happened to this once proud franchise.

For Maccabi, the Vermouth addition is crucial for a slew of reasons. 

Firstly it gives the defending champions the best Israeli player that was playing on Israel not on the squad. Jordi Cryuff pulled off an absolute coup outsmarting Maccabi Haifa in capturing the top prize and getting Vermouth to cross city lines from Red to Yellow. Tel Aviv didn’t want to see Haifa get yet another star in this transfer period after Eliran Atar & Itay Shecter. If they would’ve picked up Vermut the Greens would have set themselves up with an amazing core of players that could challenge for the title not this year but definitely next. That’s something Maccabi didn’t want to see, no question.

The move also allows Maccabi some flexibility in the upcoming rounds both in the Israel State Cup and the league heading into the upper playoffs. Sure Pako has said that the Cup is not as important as the league but he also wants to win every available title this season and knows that the supporters want to end the ten year drought. Having Vermouth on the team gives Maccabi even more depth and lengthens their bench even more to three-peat in the league.

Cryuff is already looking towards next year when he may lose a number of players before the UEFA Champions League qualifying matches in July should Maccabi win the league. Eran Zahavi and Tal Ben Chaim will certainly be coveted by top European teams this summer and a Maccabi will have to fill those very large shoes. Vermut would be a perfect replacement and complement the club along with other players owner Mitch Goldhar may attempt to buy in that transfer period. 

All in all a wise move by Maccabi management has put the team once again in the driver’s seat in Israel building a dynasty just like Maccabi Tel Aviv basketball where the improbable and impossible continue to come true.