Ashdod - Maccabi Haifa 1:3 (Sport1)
Barak Becher does not like to use the word "crisis" in interviews.
He does it only rarely.
For example, he used it after the defeat of Hapoel Be'er Sheva in Zagreb in the summer of 2018, so he understood exactly where the season was going.
So, it was the beginning of a sporting catastrophe that eventually led to his departure and the collapse of the dynasty.
What is happening now in Maccabi Haifa?
"Crisis? Any game we don't win, call it that," Bacher was angry after the 1:1 draw with Hadera about two weeks ago.
He knows the questions, especially the extreme umbrella of season summaries after each game that is accepted especially in the Haifa area.
He doesn't like to have a narrative developed for him.
On the other hand, he understands very well that the current situation in Haifa is not just a periodic decline.
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The solution to the crisis?
The Maccabi Haifa players held a formation in a flight simulation
knew how to make the changes at the beginning.
Bacher in Be'er Sheva (Photo: Kobi Eliyahu)
Systematically, Bacher's teams experience a continuous decline at the beginning of the second round.
Bacher, a control freak who knows how to feel his team in an obsessive way, usually succeeds in taking the actions that will get everyone back on track.
Two months into the current "crisis" in Maccabi Haifa - and Bacher still hasn't found solutions, and it's not that he hasn't tried.
The latest streak - a single win from the last five league games - is his worst as the coach of the Greens.
The worst since everything started to collapse around him in Be'er Sheva.
The 2015/16 season, the first in Beer Sheva, opened with seven points from the opening five rounds and from there, a crazy run of 18 wins and two draws.
The crisis came just before the top playoffs.
2:2 against Sakhnin in the last round of the regular season, 0:0 against Hapoel Ra'anana and 1:1 against Maccabi Tel Aviv in the first game of the season in the playoffs, again 1:1 against Maccabi Haifa in April in the 30th round and here, a five point advantage is erased and Maccabi Tel Aviv rose to first place.
Bacher decided to break up the group.
"We took the team during the national team break to a training camp in Tiberias," he said in interviews at the end of that season.
"Maccabi Tel Aviv dominated a bit and we didn't win.
We were in a promising gap and it looked like it was ours.
We decided to go to a remote camp, deal with professional matters, consolidate and do things that would relieve all the pressure.
In the game at Teddy, which we came from second place, we managed to get rid of the pressure and bring the training to the game.
The camp in Tiberias was a key point in the season."
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After the crises, came the titles.
During the championship days in the south (photo: Barney Ardov)
The 2016/17 season, the most impressive of all, included the psychedelic European tour with games against Olympiakos, Celtic, Inter and Southampton.
Nine consecutive victories gave Be'er Sheva a 10-point advantage over Maccabi Tel Aviv at the end of the first round, but then fatigue set in. The second round opened with three games without a win - a loss to Ra'anana and two draws against Hapoel Tel Aviv and Sakhnin - and a total of two wins from seven games and also a loss in a game this season.
By the playoffs, the gap of 10 had shrunk to three, but at Money Time, Beer Sheva arrived in good shape, did not get into trouble and took the championship by a large margin.
During the decline, Becher felt that ego games were beginning to affect his squad and held a meeting: "We talked about the need to deal with the team and not each individual on his own, that it is more important for a player to take a second championship than to score another goal or play 20 more minutes to get 100,000 people out on the streets again ", he said at the end of that season.
"After we opened things up in the assembly,
The third season of Becher in Be'er Sheva is very reminiscent of the current season.
A three-way struggle against not very stable opponents.
Although it achieved its first victory only in the third round, Beer Sheva finished as the champion of the first round with a two point advantage over Hapoel Haifa, three over Beitar Jerusalem and seven over Maccabi Tel Aviv.
And again, like magic, a crisis of opening a second round.
A loss in Netanya and two draw results against Bnei Yehuda and Hapoel Haifa and in the 18th round we got a square top with two points separating the first from the fourth.
After a loss in Bloomfield in the game of the season, BS dropped to second place, but from there it lost only once - in the crowning game against the same Maccabi Tel Aviv, a loss that changed nothing.
Even in the first season in Haifa it was necessary to change.
On the lines at Maccabi Haifa (Photo: Ariel Shalom)
What was the card this time?
Bacher mentioned the documentary about the Chicago Bulls' third championship in the 1992/93 season.
"We went through the same difficulties they went through in the third championship. They also faltered during the season and in the playoffs they brought the experience and performed. We got inspiration from them," said the coach.
When the BS players watched a film about the physical difficulties, injuries and mental beatings the Bulls players went through that season, they muttered: "It's one on one", "That's exactly what we went through". In terms of ability, it was a championship without a face and without a player of the season. Mainly because of Becher's ability to prevent the "Dredala for Connections", Maor Malikson called that championship: "The sweetest of them all".
A mid-season crisis also happened in Maccabi Haifa.
The second round of the 2020/21 season opened with a hard win at home against Hadera, then losing points in the BSH and losses away against Maccabi Tel Aviv and Ashdod.
Another loss to Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 24th round, and two tied results at the start of the top playoffs and they got a turnaround. An eight point advantage disappeared, Maccabi Tel Aviv rose to the top and kept it in the 29th round.
In the end, when the pressure played a role, in the decisive moments Maccabi Haifa stood it better - and this despite Michael Amenga's famous equalizing goal that postponed the crowning to the last round.
Last season's mid-season slump began in January.
A draw against Hapoel Jerusalem in the 19th round, immediately followed by a draw in Netanya and in the 22nd round a loss to Kiryat Shmona.
At this point, the gap with Beer Sheva has shrunk to only two points.
The top playoff was a show of weakness for all three leads.
Maccabi Haifa lost 11 points, lost three times, but had no competition and won the championship by a margin of eight points.
Will another crisis end in another championship?
At last season's celebrations (Photo: Barney Ardov)
The fall this season was expected.
She arrived right after returning from the World Cup break.
Maccabi Haifa - and this is something that characterized most of Bacher's successful campaigns - managed to hold the transitions between the Champions League and the league quite well, but after that came the drop in tension.
It was easy to recognize the decline in ability even in victories.
In Haifa they talked about "a feeling that the team is completely fed up and loose. We were dark, we won even when we weren't good."
It is difficult to put the finger on something specific that causes the crisis.
There are those around Bacher who claim that when the coach feels a fall, he starts making professional attempts and changes and this sometimes affects the grass.
Others believe that it is difficult to meet the high demands for a long time without some withdrawal.
One thing is for sure, it's very easy to spot when a Bacher team no longer looks like a Bacher team.
Suddenly the order disappears, the strengths do not exist, the energies decrease and the security is strong.
"We don't look good and we know it," said Bacher after her room.
"We are in a bad time, we are doing everything to get back to ourselves. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to find the victory. We are not able to produce things in the offensive part. Many players are not in shape, and right now we are not succeeding."
The current crisis has lasted a little longer than usual.
It is said in Haifa that he is frustrated by his lack of success in picking up the team.
He tried all the familiar exercises and some new ones.
The difficult meeting he held in which player-player went through and harshly criticized came to convey a message, to try to arouse.
This week, he tried something new and instead of training, he took the players to a flight simulation.
In the meantime, Beitar Jerusalem is waiting for Beitar, which is actually good news for him. Beitar was there for Beitar in almost every process of getting out of the crisis.
He beat her 21 times in 29 games and lost only three games: the last of which was about three weeks before he left Beer Sheva.
Will Beitar be there for Bacher this time as well? As in 2018, the race for the championship is still under his control, but the business is starting to shake a bit. Don't be surprised if the coach takes advantage of the upcoming national team break to pull another mental trick up his sleeve. To secure the title this time, he It is more necessary to pull out some more inspiring Michael Jordan from the sleeve than to keep changing vehicles and formations.