Maccabi's Jordi Cruyff says he can't make mistakes because of his name
Jordi Cruyff says his famous last name gives him less room for error as Maccabi Tel Aviv sporting director, but he's happy with the work he's done as the Israeli club prepare to take on Chelsea on Tuesday.
The son of Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff took the job as Maccabi director in April 2012 and has qualified for the Champions League in each of his first three seasons.
This is the first year Maccabi have reached the group stage, having beaten Basel in the playoff round, and Cruyff told the Guardian he's still under pressure to keep up results.
"Because of my name I'm not a guy who can make mistake after mistake," says Cruyff, who has been the sporting director at Maccabi Tel Aviv, who face Chelsea in the Champions League on Tuesday night, since April 2012. "I need to be 100 percent ready for every step I make. I will only have one shot, so I need to use it very carefully."
Maccabi are still looking for their first point after four games in the Champions League, having lost at Stamford Bridge as well as twice to leaders Porto and their home leg against Dynamo Kiev,
"It is a clear lesson in the things we lack," Cruyff said. "Suddenly we find ourselves in a competition where the rules are basically different. What you need to win a game in Israel, where we know we'll dominate most weeks, is not what you need in the Champions League -- if you are out by 10 centimetres, you go a goal down, and we haven't been able to put our own small chances away."
Cruyff also revealed his vision for the club includes continuing to bring in talent from abroad, despite the Israeli league's five-foreigner limit for each squad.
"My task was to bring a bit more of a European way of working here," he says. "I mean professionalism, technology, physical conditioning, bringing in people with a Mediterranean kind of mentality who can adapt to the lifestyle quickly. The intention is that the foreigners will make us better on the pitch and also act as educators off it.
"I think we've been successful. If you told me this would be our situation three years ago, I'd have signed up for it immediately. It's taken a lot of contributions from some talented people, and I think the Champions League is the final confirmation that we are on the right track. At the same time, our results there are clear proof that we still have a lot of improvements to make."
Maccabi's Serbian manager Slavisa Jokanovic is chasing his own Hollywood ending by beating Chelsea on Tuesday night.
Blues boss Jose Mourinho described Chelsea's chances of retaining the Premier League title as Mission Impossible, which starred Tom Cruise. Jokanovic, the former Chelsea midfielder and ex-Watford boss, is eager to be a leading man and claim the two wins which could see Maccabi's European campaign continue into 2016.
"If Jose Mourinho doesn't want to be Tom Cruise, I prefer to try to be," Jokanovic said. "It's complicated for him, it's complicated for me. It's a different target.
"We have in front of us two games and we want six points if we have the opportunity for playing next spring in the Europa League."
Maccabi have lost their previous two home games at Haifa's Sammy Ofer Stadium -- an arena more suitable for European football than their usual home -- and has called for his side's best performance of the season.
"I expect we're going to find our best performance," Jokanovic said. "We conceded 11 goals and scored only one. We need to be more solid in defence, be more competitive in midfield and be more dangerous in the last third. It's simple. For us it's important to try to find a way for three points."