Maccabi Tel Aviv coach Pako Ayestaran seems to have been under the microscope at Maccabi Tel Aviv since the day he arrived on a white horse as Oscar Garcia exited during last summer’s Tzuk Eitan war. Coming to a team at the last minute, a team he didn’t build but has shaped since coming to Israel is not only a tall task but a challenge especially as a stranger in a strange land.
Ayestaran has always shown his fine qualities as a gentleman and a mensch to everyone that has come in contact with him. Be it the fans on the street, the people he works with at Maccabi or the media, he has never, ever been less than genuine to say the least. He has taken the high road through and through and even on nights where the fans almost turned on him. As a substitution that was being made that the fans didn’t want to see, Ayestaran respectfully said that we would have to ask the fans as to why he thinks the fans were booing him. No lashing out, no smart comments just the facts.
This is what we have seen in Pako’s demeanor day in and day out at Maccabi Tel Aviv.
With already a trophy for the Toto Cup in his showcase, Ayestaran may also win the Israel State Cup and the league but may not even be able to save his job for next year. When have we seen a coach not continue with a club after winning a Treble? One of the few times I recall is when Jupp Heynckes did just that with Bayern Munich as he stepped down to make way for Pep Guardiola. I don’t think that if Pako is with Maccabi next season we will see the likes of Pep manning the yellow and blue sidelines.
Ayestaran has been challenged throughout the season by his own players when Eden Ben Bassat was not starting for the club, or when he would use various starting lineups game after game rarely being consistent week to week. However to top it off, his conflict with technical director Jordi Cryuff over style of play and tactical moves will almost ensure he will not be back next season.
Not to be critical of Cryuff, as he has every right to demand a certain style of play from his team since he built the squad with a certain philosophy, it’s clear that Pako will do it his way by hook or by crook.
Interestingly enough who just happened to be in the stands witnessing the supporters turn on the coach? A former coach a footballing great Johan Cryuff, Jordi’s dad. What did he think of the happenings as an experienced helmsman?
The coach has his beliefs as to how his team should play and has used his charges to do exactly that. Pako will go to the death with his way as he has a massive belief in the way he sees the game supposed to be played. And that is his preogative. I support Pako in this endeavor and the ability he has to choose how he uses his assets.
Be it Ben Bassat starting, or playing Nosa Igiebor in the position he wants him too, there should be no reason for anyone to question his methodology as long as he continues to collect points and lead the league. I admire his honesty and professionalism and I think Maccabi is lucky to have such Mentsch on their staff.
I vote for Pako!