Soccer-Maccabi Tel Aviv back on top but coach future uncertain

JERUSALEM Tue May 21, 2013 4:30pm BST

JERUSALEM May 21 (Reuters) - Champions Maccabi Tel Aviv have reasserted their dominance of Israeli soccer but media reports on Tuesday suggested they might have to continue their revival without coach Oscar Garcia.

The country's wealthiest club lost 3-0 to Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv in the final fixture of the season on Monday, but it mattered little as Maccabi had clinched a record 20th league title a month ago.

They pushed 2011 champions Maccabi Haifa into second place to celebrate their first championship since 2003.

The $30 million annual budget that Canadian owner Mitch Goldhar set for Maccabi paid off after three seasons of disappointment, and his decision to pair manager Garcia and technical manager Jordi Cruyff was vindicated.

A Maccabi source said next season's budget, an unprecedented sum for an Israeli soccer club, would remain similar to this season's, giving the club a strong chance of extending its success.

But speculation about Garcia's future has begun, with Israeli media reporting that the former Barcelona youth team coach might leave.

Reports suggested Garcia told his players following Monday's loss that he might not be back next season, saying he could return to Spain. The club declined to comment.

Cruyff told Maccabi's website (www.maccabi-tlv.co.il) that next season - when Maccabi will play in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League - would herald a fresh start.

"Next season we will all start from zero so it is very important that we are well prepared, because we will need to do a lot to stay at the top ... We will try to continue to improve in every aspect of our game," Cruyff said. (Editing by Stephen Wood)

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