Basketball / Vujcic’s Appointment, Maccabi’s Spin

Failure? No way. Team Manager Gur Shelef is the one to blame for Maccabi losing the title.

Eyal Gil
Eyal Gil
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Maccabi Tel Aviv is not the type of club that takes the loss of its title lightly. Obviously those to blame must pay the price, even if it’s painful. And thus, in the dead of the night the club decided to fire Team Manager Gur Shelef.

Now we all really know whose fault it is that Maccabi Tel Aviv is no longer the national champion, who was the one who made the mistakes and should pay the price. Yes, it’s the person who claps from the bench and is responsible for fixing the players’ air conditioning at home. The team manager failed, the team manager must go.

And who will replace him? Past legend Nikola Vujcic, who flourished in the shadow of former team manager Moni Fanan. Vujcic knows how players should be treated. A great, egoless player, Vujcic is the perfect choice for the job that will require him to get up in the middle of the night and make sure that a 20-year-old star stays out of trouble, or help a more senior player find a new kindergarten for his kids, fix the fridge or take the car to the garage. Obviously a past legend who’s

Hebrew is far from perfect, as is his English, is the right person in the right place. Thanks to Vujcic − not an extra budget of $20-30 million for new players − Maccabi will certainly regain is rightful title.

As my colleague Nehemia Shtrasler often says, don’t let them fool you. Shelef’s firing and Vujcic’s hiring are no more than a spin aimed at Maccabi’s fans.

Vujcic isn’t better at changing light bulbs than Shelef, even though he is taller. David Blatt obviously couldn’t be fired, due to his contract, resume and lack of available substitutes, and getting rid of one player or another won’t make headlines like Vujcic’s appointment.

Shelef himself revealed in an interview that everything was fine: The players adored him and there were no complaints. If anything, the only problem was his close relationship with coach Blatt − which was probably what Maccabi’s management wasn’t that pleased with in the first place. The management preferred a yes-man who would tell them exactly what was going on in the locker room. Shelef simply chose the wrong side.

And maybe Maccabi was just copying what the new basketball champion Maccabi Haifa, or the title-winning Maccabi Tel Aviv soccer club did: find someone from abroad to run things without being affected by newspaper headlines. Maybe soon we’ll complain that not only Maccabi’s players aren’t Israeli, but their bench too, is multinational.

That would leave us with the club directorate as the only place where Hebrew is spoken; still, spins in Israel are best presented in Hebrew.

Gur Shelef (R) posing with Lior Eliyahu and a club mascot.Credit: Sefi Magrizo