Soccer Ramat Hasharon, Welcome to the Club

The team that until now was known mainly for its internal squabbling earned its place in the upper playoffs. As for Be'er Sheva and Hapoel Tel Aviv, the jury is still out.

Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav
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Uri Misgav
Uri Misgav

1. Hapoel Ramat Hasharon is one of those clubs that people say doesn't really belong in the Premier League, since it lacks history or tradition, geographical distinction, and a significant fan base. In recent years Ramat Hasharon made headlines only thanks to political infighting, involving the head coach, the club chairman and the mayor. Still, whoever took the time to actually watch the team play without bias could immediately recognize the team's talent, at least as far as Israeli soccer goes.

On Saturday it turned out that in such a mediocre season, Ramat Hasharon even has enough going for it to secure a place in the upper playoffs. Symbolically, the final step was an impressive away win against a club that has all the necessary attributes justifying a place in the Premier League – tradition, geography and fans. The only problem with Be'er Sheva is that it hasn't had any real soccer for many years now.

2. In the second round of regular season games, Haifa not only regained its status as the so-called happy soccer capital of Israel, but also symbolizes two contrasting viewpoints as to the issue of replacing coaches in midstream. One cannot withhold admiration from the way Arik Benado turned Maccabi Haifa's season around, not only for collecting the most points in the second round of the league, but also for instilling a winning mentality and exciting soccer.

On the other side of town, Hapoel Haifa proved the advantages of sticking to the same coach despite a slow start. One can even understand why Nir Klinger is speaking openly of his desire to continue leading the team next season.

3. Which brings us to the opposite example in Tel Aviv, where Hapoel managed to fail miserably in the same season by using both methods. Hapoel played terribly under Nitzan Shirazi and Yossi Abuksis, and continued to do so under Freddy David. The most notable thing about Saturday's game in Acre against the last-place team in the league was the innovative grass design. Instead of mowing lines crosswise, as usual, someone decided to draw circles with a decreasing diameter leading to one point in the center of the field, in a variation of forms of the big bang.

Other than that this might have been the worst games ever played in Premier League history. One of its highlights came in the final minutes. During an Acre corner kick, coach Yuval Naim sent three players into Hapoel's box. All the rest waited behind for Hapoel's mighty offense – that hadn't scored a field goal in the last 689 minutes. Hapoel notably wasted an hour and half last week watching the Manchester United – Real Madrid encounter together. Considering the results of this exercise, the Israeli Academy might want to invent a word that would express the exact opposite of inspiration.

Maccabi Haifa coach Arik Benado, right, celebrating victory with his players in November 2012.Credit: Nir Keidar

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