Eli Cohen - Sharon Bukov - 05032012
Eli Cohen in Jerusalem on Saturday night. Photo by Sharon Bukov
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Most of the efforts Beitar Jerusalem has spent this season to avoid relegation from the Premier League have involved crying and using scare tactics, rather than investing in soccer. At first they convinced themselves at Beitar that their economic woes would not allow a resuscitation.

The fact that the clubs with traditionally smaller budgets are dominating the league this season hasn't helped: Beitar officials nonetheless continuously reminded us of the hole in their pockets. Meanwhile, modest Kiryat Shmona is racing toward a championship, Ashdod has flowered, Ramat Hasharon has improved, Acre has been upgraded - and Beitar with a budget bigger than any of those teams kept on crying.

When this approach ran its course, and the fans no longer bought the tired cliches of Beitar chairman Itzik Kornfein and coach Yuval Naim - Beitar adopted a new tactic. No, there was no point hurrying to save yourself by playing soccer, pure and simple. First, it was time to scare everybody.

The officials constructed conspiracy theories based on the connection between the rulings of the Israel Football Association's tribunal against the beasts in the stands (not all of them, of course ), and the troubles of Maccabi Petah Tikva and the Luzons. Beitar people claimed they were being persecuted and threatened to stop playing (did they ever start? ). And then they discovered that no one seemed to care.

Team officials based their tactics on the obsessive assumption that there is no Premier League without Beitar Jerusalem. And the more they tried at Beitar to convince others of the existence of this supposed symbiosis, the more it became clear that no one felt threatened by this possibility.

And then it finally dawned on Beitar's players, of all people. In practice, it may be true that there is no Beitar Jerusalem without the Premier League. But it's clear to all that this league will survive, and even do so easily, without Beitar. For heaven sake, it already did so at least twice: when Beitar was Beitar and not the blind, faded and repugnant entity that for some reason passes itself off with the exact same name.

Coach Eli Cohen, the savior of the day, will have to decide quickly which line of action he will adopt. On the one hand, there are the threats he made over the weekend not to show up to the playoffs. On the other hand, there is the soccer that was played, which on Saturday defeated the presumptive champion.

These psychological games of playing the poor bastard and the victim have run their course with the players and the fans. They no longer fuel anyone and only serve to make Beitar even more pathetic.

If, in contrast, Cohen will focus on turning his patently untalented players into pitbulls like Beitar midfielder Kobi Moyal, Beitar will likely be saved and stick around at least another season in the Premier League. Then it will definitely be reminiscent of Beitars past.