London Lions manager David Pollock insists there’s no need to panic – despite seeing his side lie rock-bottom of the Premier Division.
MGBSFL Premier Division:
London Maccabi Lions White 0 Camden Park 0
Sunday, 19 January, 2014
Propping up the table with just two wins from their 12 league games, Pollock says the club are looking at the bigger picture, which may mean having to suffer in terms of not winning silverware – in terms of achieving a greater good.
Speaking after drawing 0-0 against Camden Park on Sunday, he said: “What we’ve done consciously as a club is to turn the team into a project. We’re playing 16 and 17-year-old boys in Jewish men’s football – and what we’re trying to do is develop a system where the boys get exposed to men’s football. We have a great bunch of boys, the majority of which will be at the Maccabiah, with a view that after two-four years together, it beds down a marvellous opportunity to have a feeder for Saturday football and the Macabiah, it’s a project, an experiment – that is the more important thing, more than the results.”
“We went into the new season and there were a huge number of boys who had given up playing Saturday football, the Craig Ellis’, Sam Sloma’s, Aron Barnes, we were struggling to get teams out. We knew we had a great bunch of youngsters and had to look at it and say ‘ok, what do we want to achieve’? What we want to achieve is a facility and platform for Jewish boys to play football at the highest possible level they can reach.
“We’ve got this platform and have to look a few years ahead. We’ve got these boys coming through, what’s the best thing we can do for them? We want them to play at a higher level, getting them used to playing men’s football earlier, for their learning curve it will be amazing.”
The new approach may lead to a dearth of trophies in the immediate future, but Pollock insists winning silverware in Jewish football isn’t the be-all and end-all. “It’s about them playing and enjoying and developing and as a result of that, they’ll find their natural level. If they’re good enough to stay up, they’ll stay up, if it’s a level down they’re go down. It’s not about winning and staying up, but how they develop and adjust to men’s football because that is the best thing for Jewish football and Maccabiah-wise. We’re looking at the greater goal.”
And not concerned about a dropping down from their halogen days of Jewish football when the club were winning Premier Division titles and cups, Pollock said: “Football goes in cycles, look at Manchester United and I think only a fool would say their days are over. You know they’re going to come back at some stage.
“And I think we’ll be as competitive. I’m highly encouraged by the results and attitude of the boys, the vast majority are 16 and give them another few months of exposure to men’s football, and I wouldn’t be writing off our chances of winning something.
“With the long-term view, Andy Landesberg and I are very excited, but we’re looking to beyond the League, we’re looking at the longer picture.”
Sunday’s goalless draw left them a point adrift at the bottom of the table after they played out a stalemate with the side one place above them.
Joint-player-manager Nick Kagan was happy with his side’s display, but felt poor play up front cost them the victory.
He said: “We were very solid at the back, but lacking confidence and composure going forward, our attacking players had an off day.
“The effort was there and we did look fairly solid, defending well and playing out from the back. I think a draw was a fair result in the end as we didn’t create enough chances despite having the majority of the ball. But it was two points dropped rather than one gained.”
At the wrong end of the table, he does though feel his side can turn it around. “The biggest problem for us is form,” he says. “On last year’s form we would have won this game comfortably. Players are snatching at chances and confidence is a bit low – we need our swagger back.
“We know if we play to our potential then we will win games at this level, that’s not happening enough at the moment and we’re still suffering the after-effects of a bad patch of form in October and November. However, the squad realises that it’s make or break time, everyone is pulling together and we’re desperate to turn it round – the boys are fighting for each other and we can’t fault the effort.”
And speaking in terms as to how he can address the problem, and hopefully start to worjk their way up the table, he said: “We have actually only lost one out of our last five games so our form isn’t too bad – the problem is that we are draw specialists. This is at least the third game this season that we should have won and ended up drawing. I’m no mathematician, but taking three points instead of nine is always going to be a problem.
“Things are not totally in our hands but the first step before we look at the teams around us is to start winning games fast – everyone believes we can stay up.”