Missing: four Israeli footballers who promised so much


Last year will be remembered as the year Jewish players slipped off the Premier League’s radar.

Having scored a Champions League hat-trick last season, I expected Yossi Benayoun to kick on this season but he’s flitted in and out of the Liverpool team.

Tal Ben Haim joined Manchester City amid much hype but he only gets a game when the first choice back four are injured.

In his defence, Tamir Cohen hasn’t really been given a chance but he’s not your average hurly burly player and appears unsuited to a gritty Bolton team.

At only 19, Ben Sahar has found the going tough and it appears that he will have to go down to get up again. The Chelsea striker was loaned to Portsmouth in July but hasn’t been given a chance.

Daniel De Ridder is the Benayoun of Wigan. He looks good in short bursts but then goes missing and manager Steve Bruce appears reluctant to give him a run in the side.

The big will-he or won’t-he question for 2009 concerns Avram Grant. I’m tired of all the rumours about which team he will manage next. The bottom line is that he did well at Chelsea, even though he didn’t win anything, and if I had to put money on it, I would say Portsmouth or, better still, Manchester City could be the club for him.

A move to Eastlands would be similar to when he took over at Chelsea. He arrived at Stamford Bridge amid much turmoil with Jose Mourinho parting company with the then richest club in the country. Times have changed with new City owners Abu Dhabi United being linked with a number of world-class players. Grant came in and steadied the ship at Chelsea and could do a similar job in Manchester, an area with a significant Jewish community.

JC MSFL managers across the capital hope that their players have not been over-indulgent during their end-of-year festivities.

The season restarts after a one-week winter break with some sizzling contests in store in the Peter Morrison Trophy.

Nick Sonenfield, manager of HMH Under 17s, is set to fulfil a long-term ambition on Sunday by playing in the same team as his17-year-old son. Sonenfield, 57, hopes that the tie against Premier Division Montana Boca United A, who welcome back Gary Cohen, will be a memorable experience though he fears it could be an “embarrassing nightmare for Oli”.

Division Four joint-leaders Woodford Wanderers will be out to take the scalp of first division North London Raiders A. Pending a late fitness test after eating too many donuts, I’ll be trying to stop Woodford hotshot Mitch Hahn maintaining his goal-a-game record.

Chigwell Athletic A hope to avoid an upset against free-scoring North West Neasden B while an all Premier Division clash sees London Maccabi Lions B entertain Faithfold A.

Goals look guaranteed in the clash between FC Team A and Southgate Harmen A while shinpads will be order of the day in the eagerly awaited derby between Glenthorne United A and Redbridge Jewish Care. In the league, Division One title hopefuls Oakwood EDRS take on Camden Park.

I’m sad to report that there is no dirt to dish following North London Raiders’ and Montana Boca United’s Chanukah parties.

I had expected to write about scandals, tales of adultery and the like but the other halves of all involved will be relieved to know that players from both clubs behaved impeccably. Well, that’s the official line and I’m sticking to it!

Finally, I would like to wish a hearty mazal tov to sister-in-law, Hayley Lerner, and Jon Tiller who recently became engaged. Jon and I have plenty in common; he’s a Barnet supporter and a goalkeeper, and despite being a Chelsea fan he’s not such a bad bloke.

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