The anti-Cinderella / The perfect antidote to the prophets of doom
Maccabi Tel Aviv bashers can keep on predicting the team's demise, but Jordi Cruyff and Oscar Garcia aren't listening
Many people were looking forward to seeing Maccabi Tel Aviv crash this season. In fact, predicting the imminent implosion of one of Israeli soccer's richest teams - financially and historically - has become something of a national sport. It's the flip side of the feel-good story of an underdog exceeding expectations. What's the opposite of Cinderella? Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The truth is that it's become such a cliche to will Maccabi to fail that by now it's unintentionally funny. All last week, for example, people were saying that the opening-day victory is no indication of what lies ahead, thereby allowing themselves to continue wishing all kinds of misfortune on the Yellows. Had Maccabi lost its opening game, of course, you can rest assured that the "first game means nothing" rule would have been revoked within seconds.
But no matter what the prophets of doom do - they can dredge up reports from Maccabi's worst performances and they can remind everyone about the serious errors that have been made on and off the pitch - Jordi Cruyff and Oscar Garcia just aren't listening.
The imported duo overseeing the transformation of Maccabi will not be distracted by background noise. In fact, they are not even here among us. It just appears that way. The truth is that they are far away. In press conferences, they are assaulted with idiotic questions about Maccabi adopting Barcelona's famed tiki-taka strategy. Does anyone really expect either of them to take the bait and answer that question seriously, given that he could find himself standing frustrated on the sidelines as his players eke out a dull draw against Maccabi Netanya?
But Cruyff didn't take the bait and his players didn't frustrate him against Netanya on Monday night. Still, as far as he and Garcia are concerned, that's already history. The sporting press can say what it likes - and would probably be right - about Maccabi's problems: the lack of effort on defense, the apparent disinclination of midfielders to communicate with the forwards, and the sluggishness of the strikers. But Cruyff and Garcia are too busy to waste any time hearing what they already know. They are already looking ahead. The Netanya game is done and dusted. They know it wasn't perfect, even if the team's win column is.