Thursday, 16 April 2009
'Today, I shall mostly be coaching San Lorenzo' Simeone takes over. Photo: La Nacion.
Even by modern hire 'em and fire 'em standards this weeks managerial changes in the Primera Division take some beating. Miguel Angel Russo resigns from San Lorenzo, Reinaldo Merlo resigns from Rosario Central (their 2nd coach since January), Russo travels west to take the job at Rosario and Diego Simeone replaces Russo at San Lorenzo. Following that? If my calculations are correct 7 clubs have changed coaches since the start of the Clasura with Rosario now on their third. Both Russo and Reinaldo 'Mustard' Merlo (just love those Goodfellas style nicknames) resigned - whether this was done under duress or not is open to interpretation. For Merlo the end came after only 5 games and was put down to criticism aimed at him from midfielder Ezequiel
Gonzalez 'I don't feel comfortable in the dressing room' after 13 jobs in 20 years across South America maybe it was just a case of itchy feet.
For Russo the 'resignation' followed his sides failure to make the knock-out stages of the Copa Libertadores. On returning from the 2-0 defeat to San Luis of Mexico rent-a-mob met them at the airport shouting 'mercenaries'. San Lorenzo are one of Argentina's Big Five but after making last December's triangular Apertura play-off they are currently treading water in 15th place. The goals also seem to have dried up with the previously on-fire Bergessio and others only having found the net 5 times this campaign. Poor form on the field and internal wrangling are only part of the problem as it was revealed this week that the club has debts of around 13 million Sterling - small by English Premier League standards but there are a distinct lack of billionaires wanting to buy-in. Plans to reduce expenditure are proposed which will inevitably focus on the players, Bergessio is rumoured to be tickling the fancy of both River and Boca. Many of the players at the Neuvo Gasómetro are on loan from Europe and will most likely be heading back in June amongst these are Cristian Ledesma from Olympiakos and both Bruno Fornaroli and Jonathan Bottinelli from Sampdoria. The Players Union has also been alerted in case the club default on wages, a representative in Argentine daily La Nacion commented that 'the club is under obligation to honour all payments and contracts regardless of results'. With the resignation of Russo and the arrival Simeone San Lorenzo have already significantly reduced their wage bill. Fans will be hoping for the dramatic turnaround he engineered at River without the subsequent slump.
This weekends fixtures may see more 'resignations' - if the Superclasico is as dull as last October's perhaps both Ischia and Gorosito will fall on their swords.
Wednesday, 1 April 2009
Following on from Argentina's 6-1 hiding in La Paz earlier today I imagine the journos are busy writing their copy, analysing the defeat and formulating headlines. In the interests of recycling perhaps they could use the legendary headline on the front of sports mag El Grafico: VERGUENZA (shame, embarrasment, disgrace) - take your pick. This appeared after a World Cup qualifying defeat at home to Colombia in 1993. No danger of the altitude factor in that instance.
Thankfully in his post-match press conference Maradona was gracious in defeat and full of praise 'Bolivia had great game' and 'any team who'd have played them today - the result would have been the same'. Not sure I agree with the last statement given some of the defending on display, and lack of defence altogether for Bolivia's 3rd goal. Bolivia's away form is very poor - 1 point gained so far on their travels in this qualifying campaign tells it's own story, the conditions in La Paz were a factor but surely do not account for a 5 goal reverse??
As expected and in a manner which befits Maradona's man of the people image he described each Bolivian goal as 'a stab in the heart' and assured fans that he's feeling it too. Passion, patriotism and chest thumping will only take a football team so far, Diego now has to prove to the fans he can do the clever bit too.