Be'er Sheva Soccer Coach Tries to Calm the Storm

After 5-0 thrashing against Maccabi Tel Aviv, Elisha Levy says success must come in stages.

Elisha Levy's eternal smile is nowhere to be seen following Hapoel Be'er Sheva's 5-0 defeat at the hands of Maccabi Tel Aviv on Monday. The Be'er Sheva coach is disappointed and frustrated, as is the club's owner, Alona Bareket, who wants explanations for the descent down the league table.

Ever since Bareket took over five years ago, her plans have failed again and again. Monday night's humiliation and Be'er Sheva's big budget hang like a dark cloud over Levy and Bareket.

The club's fans planned to demonstrate at training Wednesday, but the calmer heads persuaded the others to give the team one more chance: the home encounter against Kiryat Shmona on Saturday. Still, a few fans showed up, and Levy met them for a quiet conversation.

Bareket, too, arrived in Be'er Sheva but didn't address the players. A source close to her told Haaretz that "if Alona had told the players what she thought, she would have made the situation worse. She's livid because of their form, their losing mentality, and the fact that it seemed they gave up even before the game began."

According to one player, "Alona brought so many coaches here, but she didn't land players. She was so enthusiastic about bringing in Elisha Levy, but that comes to nothing if we don't have players good enough for a top team."

According to a team source: "Be'er Sheva was very successful when we had players who matched the level of top teams. Giovanni Rosso and Sejad Halilovich were top-class European players and led Be'er Sheva to success with the local lads. Since Alona arrived we haven't landed any huge names. Dozens of players came and went, some didn't receive any other offers, and others were already thinking about retiring. You can bring in a top coach, but without top players you can't do anything."

Levy's response: "You think I didn't try to bring in the best players in the market? We tried, but leading players don't want to come to Be'er Sheva because of the distance from the center of the country. In any case, you can't expect such a big change at a club that was saved from relegation only in the last game of the season. Success must come in stages. You can't transform Be'er Sheva to a top team in such a short time."

Ilan Assayag