Eyal Berkovic will be appointed Israel manager if he can convince IFA chairman Avi Luzon that he is the right man for the job.
With Avram Grant, the new Director of Football at Portsmouth, no longer in the race, Berkovic sees himself as favourite to become Dror Kashtan’s successor.
Confirming that Israel would be looking out for a new boss after the World Cup campaign, Luzon recently put a dampener on Berkovic’s hopes, citing a lack of managerial experience. “It is not possible to appoint as coach somebody who was a great player but has never coached,” he said. Grant was Luzon’s first choice to take charge but following his return to Portsmouth, Berkovic, recently voted the people’s choice in Israel, looks set to land the role. “I gave myself a 30 per cent chance of getting the job now its 50 per cent,” he told the JC. “Avram made my week by going to Portsmouth.”
The former Israeli international, who played for Southampton, West Ham, Celtic, Manchester City, Blackburn and Portsmouth, is not fazed by the IFA chairman’s opposition.
“Luzon is softening because he sees that so many people want me as manager, even within the Israel FA, as well as most Israelis.”
Berkovic rejects the notion that he could be appointed assistant-manager with a view to future promotion. “I don’t have the personality to be a number two, but as manager I would choose a highly experienced assistant who could work with me.
“Experience isn’t everything. Kashtan coached for 40 years and failed with the national team. Richard Nielsen and Shlomo Scharf failed. I have always succeeded from the moment I trod on a football pitch until the day I retired. Israel needs new blood and something exciting.”
Berkovic is highly critical of Kashtan. “For the game against Latvia he didn’t even have Tamir Cohen, who plays with Bolton in the best league in the world, in the squad. He should never have taken off Yossi Benayoun when we were losing because he is the only player who can change things and do something brilliant even if he is playing badly.
“I can’t promise that what is happening to Maradona in Argentina won’t happen to me, and if we get drawn in a very difficult group we might not qualify for the next tournament, but it’s time for something new.”