GB squad goes for southern comfort
Ben Winston (left) was coach of the GB squad who took bronze in 2007
Managers from Manchester and Liverpool have accused Maccabi GB football manager Ben Winston of a southern bias after he selected only one northern-based player for next year's European Maccabi Games in Vienna.
Of the 18 selected, Manchester Maccabi defender Michael Sacks was the sole northern representative, whilst London Lions feature 14 members. Stuart Delmonte, Sacks' manager at Maccabi 1st, insisted that no one had even told him about the trials.
"I wish they would come along to see our boys rather than sticking to who they know," he said.
"I have got some other players who would be pushing for a place. If the best players are from down south, playing two or three times a week, then that is not a problem. Even if 14 are from one team, if they are the better players that is fine. But no-one has seen the Manchester Maccabi 1st team."
Winston and his management team looked at more than 130 applicants over four trials.
He said: "I'm disappointed that more players from Manchester and Liverpool did not apply. There were also two boys from Leeds Maccabi who came very close."
Delmonte was delighted for Sacks though, and said: "He deserves it and has been playing very well. He has scored in many games. I'm very pleased for him."
Crumpsall's Zevi Saunders has called for a London versus Manchester tie to help the selectors. "I'd like the management to get a chance to see our players in action.
"There are some very good players in Manchester and South Manchester. I don't see why some of our top players can't compete. I don't believe we're given enough of a chance." He said of the process: "I certainly didn't see or know anything about it. I think we got an email but it's not as though any of the players are going to get anywhere near it."
Haroldeans manager Ivan Gee said: "It is southern based, and north of Watford, I do not think they think we play football.
"I am sure that there are some footballers from the north who could do a job in the Euros but it's southern-based and I get used to it. They choose the team and they usually do well.
"The Lions are the best team but I am sure there are individuals who are better. Maccabi aren't really bothered about the northern teams anyway."
Sporting JLGB's Gavin Sharpe said: "It is a Maccabi thing and I do not think they look at teams outside of Lions and London. I am not saying my players are good enough or might be good enough, we know the Manchester Leagues are not top notch, but there are some good players who deserve a trial. Players are overlooked who are good enough because they do not play for Lions."
Sharpe also criticised the selection process itself. "It needs to be looked at. If they are picking a whole side it should be fair.
"Maybe they should ask who the managers recommend. Maybe they will have a bad game but at least look at them. For a Jewish lad who will never make it professionally it is a great honour."
In contrast, Westdene boss Steve Davis and Oakhill Lions manager Daniel Berkley had few complaints about the selection. Berkley said: "Certainly, from what I understand, the standard from the MJSL has fallen and that is probably the reason."
Davis was in agreement, commenting that "there is no-one in the MJSL who is good enough to go. To be honest with you, probably the only players good enough I would have thought were one or two of the boys from Maccabi or South Manchester Sports Club.
"It is really up to the managers to push your players forward if you want them to go through."
Republic of Mancunia boss Anthony Bloch agreed that the standard of football in the north was the reason for the London domination. "It goes without saying that the standard down south is a lot better.
"Maybe there is the odd player in our league who should be in with a shot of the team. Having one in the squad is a good achievement and I would not agree that it is not a fair reflection of northern Jewish football."