Friday, 15 May 2009

Rage at River

As sure as night follows day, England's 'Big Four' are occupying the Champions League qualifying places complete with metaphorical pipe and slippers. Things are a little different in Argentina where the Big Five (River Plate, Boca Juniors, Racing, San Lorenzo, Independiente) have historically hoovered-up the majority of honours. After 13 games of the Clasura the five have accumulated a lowly 84 points between them - the lowest since the introduction of 3 points for a win was introduced in 1995.

Twelve months ago River Plate were closing in on the Clasura. Since then the only table Los Millonarios have topped is CONMEBOL's all-time Copa Libertadores performance rankings. All the more baffling when you consider they've only won the title twice as opposed to the 7 of Independiente and the 6 of Boca. The table awards an equal weighting of 3 points for each win............lies and statistics. Fast forward to last Sunday's home game against Lanús, and factor in the ignomey of a last place finish in December and a feeble group stage exit in the Copa Libertadores and the flames of rage were fanned amongst the faithful. Cristian Fabbiani's pre-season arrival had an immediate but short-lived impact.(
Pictures of less than complimentary banners were plastered across the press, which left no one in any doubt as to the feelings on the terraces: 'The worst team in history 1901 - 2009' 'Pelligrini, Merlo, Astrada, Passarella, Gordillo,, Simeone, Rodriguez - and now Pipo [Gorosito] when is he going?' - referring to all the coaches hired by Aguilar. In England fan protests are fairly mild by comparison, although the the annual gathering of Newcastle United fans chanting 'Sack the Board' is often described as angry and ugly. During the Lanús game a delightful ditty rolled down from the stands 'If we see you out partying, we'll put you in hospital'. Joey Barton et al should be thankful. As with many aspects of Argentine football there could be a lot more going on behind the scenes particularly as president Aguilar's term is due to finish in December.

Problems on and off the park have re-ignited rumours about River's hottest properties: Diego Buonanotte and Radamel Falcao. Buonanotte has gone off the boil somewhat since bursting onto the scene but is attracting attention from clubs in France and Russia. The owners though may have wished they'd have cashed in whilst he was riding high - a reported $15m dollar offer from Benfica is unlikely to be matched in the current climate. Colombian striker Falcao has performed consistently through adversity and may also be on his way in exchange for much needed currency.

This weekend sees River face the footballers of Huracan, to compound coach Gorosito's woe veteran midfielder Marcelo Gallardo will not play again this season due to injury. If Aguilar does survive in December it's unlikely that Pipo Gorosito will still be by his side.

Hasta luego!