Avi Nimni- Sharon Bukov
Nimni, left, talking with Mizrahi during Saturday’s game in Acre. Photo by Sharon Bukov
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Maccabi Tel Aviv's 3-1 loss on Saturday to Hapoel Acre should not have come as a surprise. Really. Well, perhaps it did to those who are certain that a team with a NIS 100 million payroll will beat an opponent with an NIS 11 payroll any day of the week. In the history of sports, dozens if not hundreds of stories fit into the David and Goliath narrative. Hapoel Acre and Maccabi Tel Aviv is just the latest version.

Yet this analogy does an injustice to small teams that accomplish something really great, and it is too forgiving in terms of the confidence entrusted in Maccabi Tel Aviv since the season began. Acre won simply because it is right now the better team.

Beating Maccabi Tel Aviv by two goals was sensational - yet logical. I admit that this would be contradictory if it were the first or second round. Then one could say in all seriousness that Maccabi still hasn't gotten its act together, that its loss was due to the pressure of the beginning of the season, and that better days will follow.

But giving a lackluster performance like they did 10 games into the season is tantamount to criminal negligence by Maccabi's coaching staff (with well-deserved compliments to Acre coach Eli Cohen and his players, of course ). At Maccabi, Roberto Colautti grosses more than the entire Acre team.

Ten games in, and Maccabi still lacks direction. The lineups change from week to week without any logical explanation. There's no point in looking for team play. The player positions are the outcome of one kind of capriciousness or another among the coaches, and the longest stretch of quality play the team has demonstrated has lasted no more than 10 minutes. No Maccabi Tel Aviv fan should have to bother himself with the question whether coach Yossi Mizrahi or manager Avi Nimni is responsible for this. Both of them, at least for the time being, are freeloaders.

It is entirely possible that it's harder to pull together a NIS 100 million team than one that gets by on the minimum. And still, Maccabi Tel Aviv remains the most neglected team coach-wise next to Beitar Jerusalem. Don't be distracted by Maccabi's position in the league table. Look at them on the field: This is a loose collection of players, who thirst for a professional who will succeed to get more out of them - or at least to help show them what they are really worth.

Tragically for Maccabi, its stuck with former greats, who are skilled at the art of taking virtual responsibility.