To All those who badmouthed Grant:
Article with regards to numbers and benayoun....
Grant is good! We let the media make a mock out of him and then we spit him out...welcome to Israel!
There are some instances where numbers tell the whole story. The change that transpired in Yossi Benayoun between the previous and present campaigns is one of them. The captain, who in the World Cup 2006 qualifiers under Avraham Grant scored four goals and was almost exclusively responsible for four of the national team's points - the home win against Cyprus and the home draw with Switzerland - is playing nowhere near his potential despite having scored two goals during the current campaign.
While he's in good shape at Liverpool, he's unable under coach Dror Kashtan to make his mark. This disconnect, between his level of play for his club from when he wears the national colors, is directly linked to the change in the captains' role on the squad. Many a critic ridiculed Grant in his day in this regard, calling his tactic "give the ball to Yossi and run." Yet, in retrospect there was something to this simplistic philosophy. Grant perceived his team to be mediocre and Benayoun to be one of the few if not the only who could make a goal happen. So he told Benayoun the last third of the field was his to play as if he were alone.
"Yossi received almost total freedom of movement from Grant," one of his teammates who played under both Grant and Kashtan recalled recently. As a result, Benayoun knew to worry less about defense and concentrate more on attacking and the squad came to rely on him almost exclusively.
Under Kashtan, however, "Yossi is limited," the teammate continued. "He doesn't play freely, and Dror puts him sometimes on the left, and sometimes on the right, and he needs to be in his position. Kashtan also expects him to play more defense. But with Avraham, he took into account he could invest less in defense and concentrate more on the front side."
A player close to Benayoun said yesterday, "Because Yossi is a special kind of player, he doesn't sit around crying that it's hard for him to play when he's not entirely free."
On one item, there is no dispute. Benayoun receives special treatment both under Grant and Kashtan. During yesterday's press conference, Benayoun signaled from the back to Kashtan, who was on the podium, that it was 4:55 P.M. and practice was supposed to start at 5 P.M. Five minutes later, Kashtan got up, shook Benayoun's hand, and descended to the field.
Israel Football Association chairman Avi Luzon is waiting for Kashtan's work plans before commenting on extending the coach's contract another two years. Since the team's disappointment at Wembley, Kashtan gives the impression he's still zigzagging. His work plan continues to change, and the most prominent aspect is Kashtan's decision to leave for Croatia today and hold just one practice there.
Shlomo Sofer, the head of the delegation to Croatia, asked Kashtan why he made this decision, and the coach responded, it's time to operate like European teams who do the same thing. So, a surprised Sofer followed up, why did the team spend a week in England before the match? Kashtan didn't answer him.
Another zigzag of Kashtan involves midfielders Michael Zandberg and Salim Tuama. In the practice game before England, in Belarus, Kashtan called up Tuama and left Zandberg behind. For some reason, Kashtan decided to leave Tuama in Belgium and to bring Zandberg to England, who was surprised by the move. The same Zandberg was put on the roster before Croatia last week, claimed he was injured and that was enough for Kashtan not to invite him to Croatia. Yesterday, he was also forced to release Tuama because of an injury.
"Something is going on with the team, and it's something bad," an IFA official said angrily yesterday. "You get the impression top players are excited to be injured. We have a feeling that at least some of them are afraid of the match in Croatia and don't want to be part of another humiliation." He called for a serious check whether players are running away from the team even when they're not that hurt. "There's no way a player can be injured one day on the national team and a day or two later, he's 100% ready to play in a league match, and this repeats itself with every gathering of the team," he asserted.