Jordi Cruyff fielded various questions from the local media:
What type of coach can we expect Slavisa Jokanovic to be?
“I think it’s always difficult to know beforehand what type of coach we can expect here at Maccabi. We have had some very good results over the past years since I’ve been with the club and under a number of different coaches. The first year where we didn’t qualify for Europe gave me and the club a lot of time to learn about the players and work with them to improve. That year we won the league title for the first time in a long time and we have just improved from there. I’m extremely pleased and proud to see that we have had good coaches over the years.
If you analyze the coaches from over the last few years at Maccabi, they are all of similar profiles and when I saw that things weren’t working out for Slavisa at Watford I knew that this was the man we had to try to get. This was also the quickest we have named a coach since I have been here.”
Where do you see Maccabi going over the next few season?
“Over the last few years we have been on the rise and we won the domestic title the first year, played attractively in Europe the second and the third year we won all the domestic titles, The Treble. I don’t think we need to have a revolution with the squad since we have a team that just had one of the greatest years in the club’s history. The owner, Mitch Goldhar wants to build step by step with proper organization and with proper control.
We have only spent a total of 600K Euro in the transfer market and we haven’t taken risks or gambles. We try to have players who are motivated and we have to accept that we are in Israel and not the English Premier League. The coaches that come to Maccabi know that we have a good squad and by bringing in a new staff also creates a mini-revolution and change on a smaller level.”
What is your philosophy about bringing in foreign players to Maccabi?
“Our philosophy has always been not to sign foreigners but to bring in the best Israeli talent. We have seen that more than 60-70% of foreigners don’t stay longer than a year in Israel and we don’t believe in this area as a major investment since many won’t stay with the club for the long term. If 80% of players have to be domestic players then that’s where we must invest. We have a good formula that has worked so far and we will continue on this path. Sometimes we make mistakes and I have as well, but the result so far speak for themselves.”
What is the status of Ben Reichert?
“Ben Reichert is here to stay and he is coming back to the club. There may be messages out in the media about his future, but I have to protect the best interests of Maccabi and we want the best players. He is one of the best young players in the country. I also have so much respect for him as a man since we asked him at the last minute to go on loan in the January transfer window and he agreed to do so. Ben has a tremendous amount of passion and we want to get that to be controlled passion. As part of the exchange we received Gili Vermouth though there were difficulties since he had been injured. We expect a lot from him this coming year.”
Can new Head Coach Slavisa Jokanovic get an extra 10% out of the players that is needed?
“Slavisa speaks many languages and can communicate well with the players as he was also once a top player himself. I have been following him for quite a while and when the opportunity came to sign him, we agreed with Mitch and Martin that Slavisa was the right choice but we will only know at the end of the season for sure what will happen. We thought about looking locally for an Israeli coach, but for the time being we went for a foreign staff but perhaps one day we will go for an Israeli staff.”
Is Maccabi’s number one objective playing in the group stages of the Champions League?
“The number one objective for Maccabi is to win the domestic league and from there we can work towards the Champions League. Getting to the group stages is all about the draw and last year we had a very good draw, however this year we will not be seeded in the third round and it will make it harder to accomplish. I must be adamant and clear that even if we don’t make the group stages of the Champions League the season will not be a failure. The second objective is playing in a European competition but of course the Champions League is an objective and dream but it’s not an obligation.”