Panathinaikos FC's new coach came across as a relaxed, smiling and self-confident man at the press conference he gave yesterday in front of 60 Greek journalists, dozens of microphones and a handful of television cameras. Yesterday's was the first meeting between former Maccabi Haifa coach Yitzhak Shum and the Greek press and he spent 45 minutes laying out his soccer doctrine.
"I am not hiding my main objective - to win the league championship with Panathinaikos after a seven-year drought," Shum declared following his formal introduction by the club's new president, Argiris Mitsou.
"We will have to come together and work hard for one objective, a noble objective," Shum continued. "I came to Panathinaikos to realize my soccer philosophy - to work with excellent, ambitious players so as to attain great moments."
Asked about his game philosophy, Shum replied: "It's attack-oriented; it always has been and always will be. I would rather win 5-1 than 1-0, and I can promise the Panathinaikos fans that they will enjoy attacking and enthusiastic soccer. I am happy to be coaching at one of the biggest clubs in Europe."
Even when asked about the doubts expressed in his signing that have appeared in the Greek press and have been expressed by the club's supporters, Shum remained at ease. "I am an individual who thinks optimistically. In the end, the results will speak for themselves," he said.
Shum was asked a number of times about future signings - a painful subject for the Panathinaikos fans, who charge that the club's management has chosen to save money both when it comes to buying new players and with regard to the cost of a more senior coach. The Israeli manager didn't mention specific names, but chose to make a general statement: "We are interested in good players," he said. "We are keeping tracks on them and a few of them will be [at the training ground] within a few weeks."
Yanis Vardinoyanis, the son of the club's owner, denied that Shum had been appointed coach because he had led Maccabi Haifa to victory over Panathinaikos' arch rival, Olympiakos. "We made a decision because we knew we were dealing with a good coach, someone with new ideas who suits our worldview."
Last night, Shum watched the Greek national team take on the Ukraine in a Euro 2004 qualifying game. He will return to Israel Saturday night to participate in the celebrations to mark the 75th anniversary of the Israel Football Association.
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