Soccer / Guttman Chastised for pre-Salzburg 'Panic' Outburst

Team owner and most players angered by coach's verbal attack.

Coach Eli Guttman's outburst at defender Dani Bondar and run-in with owner Eli Tabib on Saturday night left Hapoel Tel Aviv's management stunned and fuming. "If we don't advance in the Champions League, all fingers will be pointing at Guttman," warned a club official. "He could pay dearly. His behavior was totally unnecessary and only stirred things up, while the team needs more quiet ahead of the second leg against Salzburg."

Sharon Bukov

Club officials say that despite a follow-up conversation between Guttman and Tabib, no one will tolerate a meltdown Wednesday and exit from the Champions League.

Most Hapoel Tel Aviv players expressed on Sunday support for Bondar and disgust with the outburst by Guttman, who berated the defender for not being able to play the full 90 minutes. He also blamed Bondar for Itay Shechter getting injured, they said.

Bondar's teammates tried to comfort the player, but associates of Bondar say he is still feeling hurt because he was made into a scapegoat.

Team officials also criticized Guttman's judgment during Saturday's 1-0 loss to Hapoel Haifa, one of them attributing it to "panic." Guttman started the game with half his stars on the bench and only inserted them after Haifa scored the only goal of the match.

Shechter was injured after coming on as a substitute. An ultrasound after the game showed the striker did not have a torn thigh muscle as initially diagnosed, but rather a pulled muscle. Still, he is questionable for tonight's game against Salzburg.

Guttman told his players afterward that he feared for his players' fitness, and was upset and said things in anger only because Shechter was injured. He apologized and said there was no need to get upset, and that as far as he was concerned the incident now belongs to the past.