"I wanted to resign a month before I was fired. Disappointed with Alona"
Loves Benyon, even though he did not choose him for the national team's training, is convinced that celebrating did him great harm and hardly refers to his greatest critics in the media, Eyal Berkowitz.
Roni Levy breaks his silence in a special interview: "I would fight for the championship with Hapoel Beer Sheva. I am open to an offer from any team"
Thursday, June 23, 2022, 6 p.m.
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Roni Levy receives me at the entrance to his impressive home in Netanya, wearing young jeans and a tight white shirt that highlights a shapely body almost like the one he had when he was a Maccabi Haifa player 30 years ago.
He has not coached for more than three months and it seems that this time for himself has done him good.
Flights to visit children in the United States, vacations with his wife Sima in Greece and Italy and in the middle of a lot of work on fitness and even more proper nutrition than he always tends to, also due to being vegetarian.
You have been waiting a long time for this interview since the dismissals from Hapoel Beer Sheva.
Why did you decide to talk right now?
"I was looking for the right timing. I did not want to disturb the teams during the league. Now there are fewer topics to talk about and I can be interviewed and say what sits with me."
You did not want to interfere with the groups?
You mean you did not want your interview to hurt Hapoel Beer Sheva's chances of winning the championship or the cup?
"I did not want to talk about Hapoel Beer Sheva when it was during the season and I did not want to talk when I was in a storm of emotions and a big disappointment after I left a place where I had invested my life."
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"I invested my life in Hapoel Beer Sheva."
Roni Levy (Photo: Berni Ardov)
"A month before the dismissal I wanted to resign. I was in first place. I consulted with a person close to me and he told me not to make that move. It was even before our less good period. I felt there was a big gap between what to expect and what to get."
Have you invested your life in Hapoel Beer Sheva?
"My professional life. Certainly. Everywhere I go I am total and maybe this is one of my problems. At Hapoel Beer Sheva the team manager Eviatar Iluz came to me and told me that after that he already knows everything. What is allowed and what is not allowed. I like to do everything in the club. I Comes with heart and soul. Even though they try to paint me cold and antipathetic, I'm very warm and very sensitive. I see everything. I feel everything. It's true that I do not take shortcuts. I like to go deep and sometimes people do not feel comfortable with it. At Hapoel Beer Sheva we did something beautiful. We built a wonderful professional team. Eric Bendo who can coach alone in any team in the Premier League, Shai Hess "In the league, the Polish Lucas is a fitness coach. Eviatar Iluz, Aliniv Barda. He was a wonderful team. I was very connected to Hapoel Beer Sheva."
"I was not surprised. I saw the dismissals coming."
"I am sharp in these things and my instincts do not deceive me. A month before the dismissal I wanted to resign. I was in first place. I consulted with a person close to me and he told me not to make this move. It was even before our least good period. I felt there was a big gap between What to expect and what to get. A gap between what we did and what we thought we did. In my view, the club did not know how to present things correctly and it permeated the media and the audience. Once the media and the audience were not on my side, it became harder. What we did was very harsh criticism from home. The media and the crowd were influenced by the club leaders and the atmosphere was very bad. When I left Hapoel Beer Sheva we were the best away team in the league and that speaks for itself. We were better than Maccabi Haifa away. Hapoel Beer Sheva's crowd is wonderful at home And if he was with me and accepts our story better, the support for us was greater and the results accordingly.Hapoel Beer Sheva did something extraordinary last summer.We replaced 14 players in one summer in a team that at the last minute managed to get into the top playoffs. "
The commentators predicted for you last summer to compete for a championship.
Claimed you got the best staff.
"I laugh at such an interpretation. Some commentators think that football is a hocus pocus and everything works automatically. Where does the ignorance and disrespect to talk about football come from? In the end it affects the audience that listens to ignorant and incomprehensible people in football and it permeates the fans. I respect the owners who invested a lot, but we did not exceed budgets. Hapoel Beer Sheva was not close to Maccabi Tel Aviv or Maccabi Haifa in budgets. We brought players with experience who understand what a healthy locker room is like Tibi, Schechter, Rokavica in addition to players who were already like Vitor. Excellent combination, players with character, it's true that football was not fluent and brilliant, but there was a lot of character and there were results and I believe that it is impossible to get everything already in the first season.
"Teams that took championships were not built in one day. It's a process. It was a trained, tactical, committed team, with a lot of character. It's true I wanted more quality, more fine attack. But I worked on it a lot and I believe it would come. There is a concept in the neighborhood that says: "I blindly caught him" and to get to that, it takes time. I did not want to play promiscuous and I did not want not to play tactical as many commentators who do not understand anything want. I do not see one of the greatest coaches in the world who believes in this way. "Lottie. I was in Ferguson's training. I did not see him play promiscuous and switch between methods as if it were a market. It is not acceptable to me."
"Maybe at the beginning of the season I should have sat down with her to fully coordinate expectations."
Alona Barkat (Photo: Udi Citiat)
"Hapoel Beer Sheva is the whole world of Alona Barkat. I very much respect and appreciate her. Her right to do what she thinks, but I am disappointed. My right to be disappointed by her decision."
Are you so mad at the commentators?
"Some of them. They do damage to football. They want shortcuts for a more beautiful game like. It will not make our football better. They told me I should give more minutes to young people. I am against young people? Do you want us to make a list now of how many young players I have promoted? In 20 years of training? But why talk about young people and disqualify the veterans? Eitan Tibi is not a legitimate player? Itai Schechter and Miguel Vitor are illegitimate? What are they criticizing me about? "I play with them in Nazma and they do not change staff. What do you want? The 'come on mess' that they are trying to root here does not suit me."
You talk a lot about the club, but in the club, the one who determines is one person - Alona Barkat.
"Apparently we did not see things eye to eye in everything related to my demand that the club clarify to the outside world what is right and what is wrong for this season. It could be that at the beginning of the season I had to sit down with it to fully coordinate expectations."
The main commentator that you have a full stomach for is Eyal Berkowitz.
Let's open this case once.
You walk around with great pain in the matter.
"I have no pain and I have a lot more to say, but I do not think in this interview I should address it. I will say much more in the future."
Do you think that Eyal Berkowitz tended to interpret you?
"I will not give him a stage here, but in no professional or value sense is he a character worthy of listening."
Are you disappointed that Alona Barkat fired you?
"Hapoel Beer Sheva is the whole world of Alona Barkat. I very much respect and appreciate her. Her right to do what she thinks, but I am disappointed. I have the right to be disappointed by her decision. I gave my life to Hapoel Beer Sheva. I brought all my knowledge. Also to Maccabi Haifa "It was a less good period. So we had a less good period at Hapoel Beer Sheva, but during this period we had a lot of character because we played a lot of games with a numerical disadvantage due to dismissals. But it was during this period that she decided to fire me. I am very disappointed.
"He's not a character worth listening to."
Eyal Berkowitz (Photo: Maor Elkelsi)
"I think my lineups were more offensive than I was after with Aliniv. I expected the club to tell the truth and explain things that would make the audience understand."
Is it a stain for you to be fired?
"I do not see it that way. In football, coaches are fired and it is not the end of the world. But I think a coach should be judged in the eyes of professionalism and high-level work. Football is a matter of timing. If I were a professional manager and I saw a coach like me I would have known we would go through this period. "
Did you expect her to stand firmly behind you or in front of you?
"It is very important that the owner is satisfied. It is important that the crowd is satisfied. I really like attack, speed and dribbles, but Hapoel Beer Sheva last season had the character of a more tactical and fighting team. This is the balance I found for the team. I think my teams were more offensive than I was after. "I expected the club to tell the truth and explain things that would have made the audience understand."
You first met everyone at Omri Glazer's wedding.
How was the meeting?
"Friendly. Hello, hello.
Do you feel like a partner in the trophy they took?
"Not a partner, although I have a part in how the team was built. But Aliniv did a very good job. He won the games and all the respect to him and the players."
Did you expect him not to take the team after you?
"I did not think about it at all. It less bothers me. After I left, Eric Bendo and Shay Hess heard from me that they should stay. For Eric it was too heavy and he left. Speaking of Eric, they try to paint me in the image of someone who does not share, but Eric was a partner "It's full and he can attest to that. It made sense to me that Aliniv would stay and work as a coach."
"Not a trophy partner, although I have a part in how the team was built."
Roni Levy (Photo: Berni Ardov)
"In Israel, this position of the professional manager is not put in order. A professional manager has an important role. He outlines a way, rules, standards that continue even after one coach leaves. Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa are a good model for that."
Alona Barkat is the professional manager of Hapoel Beer Sheva?
"She's the landlady and like any landlord who invests money, she too wants to be involved and rightly so. I have no problem with that."
Is she overly involved?
"She respected me all the time and I respected her all the time. She did not cross boundaries with me like I did not cross boundaries with her."
How do you see the professional manager model entering football?
But probably for you you feel it is unnecessary.
"No, not at all. In Israel, this position of the professional manager is not put in order. A professional manager has an important role. He outlines a way, rules, standards that continue even after one coach leaves. Maccabi Tel Aviv and Maccabi Haifa are a good model for this matter. They are very Arranged. "
Aliniv Barda or Barak Yitzhaki gave alternatives to the team owners to fire the coach.
"If the owner does not want the coach, he will not be. Barak Yitzhaki is a talented and smart man and he will develop into an excellent professional manager."
"Apparently the current situation in the team and the timing at the moment were not right."
Roni Levy with Yossi Benyon (Photo: Danny Maron)
"Yossi is a football genius. A man of principles. He is a real man with values. At this point in time he thought it was right to appoint Alon Hazan as the national team coach and that's fine with me."
You are very upset about the selection of Yossi Benyon as the professional manager of the Israeli team.
Didn't you expect him to choose you to be the coach of the Israeli national team?
"The choice of Yossi is wonderful and that's a great thing for Israeli football. Yossi is a football genius. He is a man of principles. He is a real man with values. At this point in time he thought it was right to appoint Alon Hazan as national team coach
Did not talk to Yossi about it?
Didn't you expect him to choose you to be the team coach?
"Even if I aspire or expect, I will not take a step and say: Let's take me. I can say that even before Yossi Benyon, there was talk around me in the team. I was always mentioned to be the team coach. Apparently the current situation and timing were not right. Yossi did not disappoint me. ".
What about the future?
"Obviously I aspire to coach the team after my career."
The choice of Alon Hazan is correct?
"I respect the decision and congratulate Alon Hazan. I played with Alon. He was a wonderful player with personality, character and mentality. He has come a long way as a coach and I am happy with his choice."
"Praise him, his way is right."
Vladan Ivic (Photo: Kobi Eliyahu)
"Celebrating caused me media and professional damage. The crowd came to protest here against me in front of the house and he said it was legitimate to protest against the coach. The club and celebrating as owners did not come out then a buffer against these phenomena against me."
What does the term 'happy football' do to you in the context of something you did not have at Hapoel Beer Sheva?
"Every time there are different slogans. At the end of football, Giora Spiegel taught me, he's a game of players. Giora would force us to go dribble. He asked for a dribble. But in the end as a coach you have to find the balance in the tools you have."
I watched Ivica's opening practice at Maccabi Tel Aviv and thought about the fact that as an Israeli coach you are the closest to him.
Even in appearance.
Why do we worship him and talk about you in criticism?
After all, you both have very similar requirements.
"I'm proud of my way. I'm very serious and thorough. I take care of everything and see everything. I think from the height of my age, after 20 years of training, I'm already a grandfather to my granddaughter and I can smile more about certain things. Take the case of Hatem Abdelhamid this season. "Reacts more aggressively to what I had with him this season, and here I tried to come more in the section of helping a player that the club has invested so much in and he has a problem. I applaud Ivitch, his way is right. We are looking for shortcuts."
Do you feel valued here?
"Yes. If Yossi Benyon, who played for the greatest coaches in the world, says that I am one of the best who coached him, that's a compliment. I heard it from Miniv Katan, Biram Kiel and Barak Yitzhaki. I care about them. I do not mind a commentator speaking against me because we do not speak."
You coached for several terms at Betar Jerusalem, including with Moshe Hogg who fired you. How do you see his crash?
Betar Jerusalem is an expensive and important club with an audience and tradition.
There's something in Betar that goes into your heart. Something crazy. I had a great time there, but celebrating caused me professional media damage. I came to Betar through Yossi Benyon and because celebrating did not bring me directly, it was not positive.
We built a team after it stayed in the league in the last round.
We did third place, won the Toto Cup, we sold Gadi Kinda who made a big leap for me.
Liwi Garcia was sold at the end of the season.
It was a great experience there and constantly tried to paint a picture as if our budget was the highest and we invested the most and as if it was not good enough because we needed a championship.
Instead of describing things as a big success, describe it as a big disappointment.
The crowd came to protest here against me in front of the house and he said it was legitimate to protest against the coach.
The club and celebrating as an owner did not come out then a buffer against these phenomena against me. "
Are you happy about what happened to the celebrating?
" Not happy about falling people.
He's not my enemy, but he's certainly not my friend. "
"I really want to go back to the artist. I have a huge passion."
Roni Levy (Photo: Berni Ardov)
"I know that the last two years in the country have done me media damage and publicity. They present me incorrectly. I am presented incorrectly in relation to reality. Especially in the professional aspect. The media try to present my abilities as a coach in less than they are."
You have been coaching alumni for almost 20 years.
You opened in a boom with three championships, but since then for 16 years without a plate.
This is not what you expected.
"First of all, it's true. On the other hand, it is impossible to be in a battle for titles all the time. I came to Betar Jerusalem with Itzik Kornfein and keeping the team in the league was a great achievement.
It was a celebration as if we had won a championship.
I came to Maccabi Netanya and my children told me that this is a group that is going to be disbanded.
In the end, this was one of my greatest experiences in football, which also brought me back to Maccabi Haifa.
I got anorthosis at the bottom and almost took a championship.
It is impossible to take a championship in every team.
It is true that sometimes I have made wrong choices.
I could have moved to Betar Jerusalem after the three championships at Maccabi Haifa and I guess I would have taken more championships with them, but I decided to stay at Maccabi Haifa and not even hear Betar's offer.
They wanted me instead of Aussie Ardiles and at the end Yossi Mizrahi came, a friend of mine, and took the championship.
I believe that if I had stayed at Hapoel Beer Sheva this season, we would have fought for the championship until the end. "
In which country are you more valued?
"In every country where I coached I was valued. I know that the last two years in the country have done me media damage and publicity. They present me incorrectly. I am presented incorrectly in relation to reality. In the professional aspect mainly. Celebrating led a certain line against me and it affected the audience and the media. Unlike celebrating, with Eli Tabib I worked at Betar Jerusalem and we had a great relationship.
Tabib was involved but did not intervene.
I had pure pleasure working with him. "
The Premier League is closed to you now. How does it feel to open the season on the couch here at home?
" In everything I try to take the good.
That's the situation right now.
I really want to go back to the artist, I have a huge passion.
It's not a bad thing to be a little outside.
I have time for my wife, children, granddaughter.
The next challenge will come.
I manage to enjoy even now.
Sima and I are happy. "
What will get you out? You will not go to Hapoel Hadera or Ness Ziona.
"I am very pragmatic. The situations in life change and there are dynamics. As I value myself very much I know that adjustments need to be made and if a less attractive team needs to be coached, I will go for it too. I still think I have a good reputation in many countries. Hungary, Greece, Romania "In Cyprus. In the end there will be an opportunity and I will go to the next challenge."
Isn't there a club in the Premier League today that is small on Roni Levy?
"Absolutely not. Legitimate that I will not accept an offer, but I do not rule out anything in advance. There have been a few phone calls lately that have interested me less, but I am not uplifted by the people. I hold myself. Maybe too much. But I will respect any offer submitted to me. "I would be happy if they did not tell the team that I would come to it, that I should take a championship on an automaton. It is flattering that expectations are raised when I come, but they should be realistic."
Hapoel Beer Sheva