Maccabi Tel Aviv Sports Director Jordi Cruyff summed up the second round of the Premiere League season and warned: "Maintaining the lead at the top is a big responsibility."
On the eve of the opening match of the play-offs Maccabi Tel Aviv sports director Jordi Cruyff talked at a press conference about the long path the club has taken since the beginning of the season: "All along our objective has been to stay in the running for the championship, we never talked about the championship as such but about being in the running and that's still what we're doing right now. Football is a very unpredictable sport, and all I want to do is put up a good fight. Our job right now is to win seven matches in the play-offs, perhaps it will turn out that five will do, but that's our situation right now."
"There's only one thing I'm sure of and that's the system we're trying to introduce into our game. The press and the fans often think in the short term, but what we want to do is move the club forward and we'll do everything we can to see that that happens. You could say we have the championship wrapped up, that's really up to us right now, but we have to know how to maintain our lead at the top. The problems begin when you start thinking, well that's it, it's done, when in fact it isn't at all."
Jordi also discussed the change in mentality at the club and developing the ability to face up to challenges: "For us, and I mean me and (head coach) Oscar (Garcia), losing is part of the game and you have to know how to lose as much as how to win. Nobody likes losing but it's part of the game and if you know how to shake it off and carry on that's the ticket. I think the players realise we're not trying to put the blame on anyone and have learned to replace their feelings of disappointment with looking ahead and being ready for the next match."
The reporters attending the conference were keen to hear about the professional staff's willingness to stay on next season: "Every staff member has a contract for next season, we're very pleased with (head fitness coach) Juan (Torrijo Navaro) as we are with everyone on the staff. The players feel how much they're getting out of the hard work they're doing, and anyway when you're doing well and scoring goals it's only natural that it puts more pace in your step. As for (head) coach Oscar (Garcia), he's under contract right now and of course when a manager does a good job he gets offers from other clubs and of course there are clubs you simply can't refuse. I've known Oscar a long time and I think he's quite happy here. I very much want him to stay, in football it just depends on what else is on offer."
Jordi was also asked if the club had lived up to his expectations: "In general I'm satisfied with the way the team play. We have the best home record, the best road record, we've scored the most goals in the league and together with Maccabi Haifa have the least goals conceded, so really who could ask for more. We'll always want to improve and expect more from one another. Every football club in the world tries to improve by bringing in new players, but it's also clear that a lot of our players have improved this year so there's no reason not to put our faith in them. I get the impression that all the players that stayed with the club stayed because we believe in them. The thing is that a lot of players make the mistake of leaving a club as soon as they see that they're not playing regularly, but I have to admit that a number of players pleasantly surprised me. I always look at the way a player behaves after a good performance and I have to admit I'm pleased with how the players have carried themselves "the day after".
At the end of the conference Jordi Cruyff discussed his own future with the club: "I can't tell you exactly when I will have achieved my goals with the club and that it's time to move on, I suppose I'll just feel it. Anyway, in football it's the way of things for everyone to want to move ahead and reach the highest level he possibly can, but we'll simply have to see."