It has been three and a half months since Erwin Koeman was appointed coach of Betar Jerusalem. It has been a turbulent three and a half months. A period of uncertainty, which continues even these days with the departure of Moshe Hogg, (Monday, 20:30), who returns to the league after 21 years, no result will be received except for his team's victory.
Next week Koeman will celebrate his 60th birthday. He has gone through so many things in his career: coaching Feyenoord, PSV Eindhoven and the Hungarian national team;
Two years as an assistant coach in the Premier League.
But suddenly he found himself teaching players basic things that every footballer - probably in the Premier League - must have at Arsenal.
"There is training that he has to explain to the players how to stop a ball," Betar admits. "Koman is unable to understand all the conduct here."
It took the Dutchman a few days to digest what he was facing, but very quickly he faced the question of his tools, and while on the move maybe more players would come.
For a long time he kept going around with notes and writing down more and more things, more points that he thought needed to be changed or worked on.
In the first training sessions of the season, he invited player after player to a personal meeting, asking him what position he could best express himself in, and what other position he could play.
After the Dutchman formed a general picture of the players, a key decision was made in Koeman's mind: the level of professionalism in Betar must be changed, even before football. During training camp, one of the team members was two minutes late for a group meal. "Half a minute late," Coman told the same employee.
At one of the meetings with the players, Koeman decided to dedicate an entire conference on professionalism.
"You have to suffer to be a professional," the coach told them.
"I'm sure more coaches have told you that, but your career is short. The goal is not just to be at Betar because in a few months you can be replaced.
The goal is to succeed here, to give your all in every workout.
You need to maintain your body, maintain a sporty lifestyle.
I do not say 'do not go to sea'.
Go for an hour and come back.
If you have an injury, come before everyone else for training and treatment. "
Koeman in training, Oren Ben Hakon
"He did not come to be a sergeant major"
The actors didn’t really take Koeman’s words seriously.
At the end of each training session they would organize within a few minutes, board citizens, and leave the training complex as usual with the rest of the coaches.
This has already disgraced the Dutch coach, who realized that the Israeli player should be caught short.
Koeman dropped a systemic decision: No exit from the training complex before one o'clock.
"For his part, the players will stay and play backgammon, but no one will finish training and go straight home," the club said.
Betar has almost no longer a single workout but a long day format. According to Koman's new arrangement, the group splits in two: one group enters a 40-minute workout at the gym; the other group goes through videos. The lawn, lunch, and as mentioned, only after one in the afternoon can you leave home and garden.
The coach also banned cell phones in the locker room, but on the other hand the players testify: "He did not come to be a sergeant major, but professionalism is very important to him."
Maybe as part of his strategy and maybe not, Koeman got very close to the team's three veteran players - Ofir Krief, Itamar Nitzan and Uriel Degani - with whom he often consults on a variety of topics.
He also respects foreign players, for example with Richmond Boachi and Edwin Jiasi he often jokes in Dutch.
The issue of professionalism is expressed in Koman in many other respects: he is not connected to the media, nor is he moved by what is written about him;
Agents do not turn to him at all - everything goes through Eli Ohana;
In training he requires his players to work all the time, so for example he is very angry at Jordan Shua, who has great potential but does not meet his European standards.
"Koeman loves players who come to work, dynamic. Players who will not move - will not play for him," say the club.
The Dutchman has marked the top playoffs as a goal for the team's success, and even now that trustee Yitzhak Junger may sell Aviel Zargari he is still not giving up. "Koman here is not because of the money, he is here for the challenge and experiences like in Turkey and Oman," the group said. His first big test comes already tonight in the derby, a victory in which can capture the hearts of the fans.