Maccabi Tel Aviv finally looked like the team we had all seen a few months back, taking care of Kiryat Shemona 3-0 in the 2nd leg of the Israel State Cup quarter finals at Bloomfield Stadium. Quick, fluid & dangerous from the first minute.
This was not the same team we saw play Kiryat Shemona twice, Bnei Sakhnin and others this past February but a team that was solid as a rock, playing like a well oiled machine. We certainly saw the defending champion play this style of game earlier in the year and under Paulo Sousa throughout the 2013-14 season when Maccabi also played on the Europa League facing top level European competition.
That’s exactly what Maccabi wants to do next year and for years to come. However the only way they will be able to that is with stability and consistency, both on and off of the pitch, especially in the coaching ranks.
Pako Ayestaran, is the linchpin in the Maccabi machine. The lineup he sends out onto the pitch is and should be his decision only, not to be influenced by any other person or group of people. There has to be a certain level of trust for the man that has had a decent amount of success this year (the team is in 1st place!) as he is trying to mold the club into a a team that can play a number of competitions throughout a lengthy season and mold them into the vision that he has for the squad.
There has been a tremendous amount of criticism leveled at the coach over the past 6 weeks. Some of it was dished out by yours truly and others for the disappointing results and style of play in recent weeks which had been slower and sluggish than what we all saw since the start of the year.
However, last night all was forgotten as the fans and critics congratulated Pako and the team for making it into the semi finals of the State Cup for the first time in ten years as well as opening up the offense from the get-go.
Will Pako be Maccabi’s coach next year? That still seems to be way up in the air but hopefully so as I do believe his tactics & techniques are just what the doctor ordered for the franchise. The decision thogh will be in the hands of the technical director Jordi Cryuff who is rumored to already be looking for Pako’s replacement for next season with apparently two coaches of Dutch origin being approached to take over the reins of Maccabi Tek Aviv.
It’s clear that Cryuff doesn’t buy into Pako’s game plan and it seems a disagreement ensued last month about the style Maccabi has played. Perhaps Pako’s protest to Cryuff was when he didn’t start Eran Zahavi against Macabbi Netanya in a 3-3 draw. Could that have been the breaking point between the two as to which direction Maccabi would be heading? Possible and probable, but we will only know for sure once the season is over due to the fact that Cryuff knows how to keep his cards close to his vest and doesn’t reveal too much to anyone other than his very small inner circle.
Putting all of these politics aside, Maccabi is in position to take a treble this year winning the Toto Cup, State Cup & League and that would be an incredible accomplishment for any coach and club, especially in this case for Pako Ayestaran and Maccabi Tel Aviv.