ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Argentina’s initial soccer championship still has five rounds to go but so far only four clubs have changed coaches during the present campaign, which is below the usual average.
The four clubs (Colón, Quilmes, Racing and Tigre) are in the bottom six and likely to stay there which recalls the conundrum about why clubs transfer or lose their best players and then sack the coach because he cannot put a successful team together with the rest.
But there are coaches and coaches.
Some, such as River Plate’s Ramón Díaz, obtain most of the new players they ask for and then the team still does not click and one has the impression that they go after name players who may have done well at other clubs, but without studying whether they would fit well into the team.
Of course, River also have the reputation of selling their best players because they need the cash because of bad administration. It should not be difficult to make a player fit into the team if he is a good player but here the impression is that some coaches just do not go the right way about it to teach them.
Some clubs hire coaches just because they won titles with them before (Carlos Bianchi, Díaz). Not a clever idea. It may be the same title-winning coach but not the same title-winning team.
Other coaches resign (before being dismissed) because they say they cannot do anything with the team. They may be right if the club management obtained the wrong players for them to work with.
At least they should keep their jobs for the next season to see if they can find the right players for him.
However, constant team changes, with transfers in and out among the 20 top division clubs after every 19 matches, which are often near the 200 mark, are a powerful reason for the poor standard.
Club committees cause most of the problem. There has always been suspicion that club officials take a cut from transfers out, specially players going abroad, but they try to comply with the wishes of a coach in getting him the players he asked for and after a few games they put another coach in charge.
There was a lot of commotion when Quilmes coach Nelson Vivas attacked a fan after the game who had hurled abusive language at him during the game.
Vivas was dismissed but coaches take a lot of abuse from fans and sometimes cannot stand it.
The trouble is that local fans still feel that coaches, not players, are responsible for losing a match. A coach may have no more than 20pc to do with it, if that.
On the other hand, a coach must be much more than just a team selector and many are not.
He must be a motivator and a bit of a psychologist among other and not just spend time shouting bad language at the players, or blaming the referee although often he is right.
Former international and ex-Racing defender Roberto Perfumo once told that when José Pizzutti was hired as Racing coach they were bottom of the table but he said nothing to the players on the first few days which left them puzzled.
He was studying the players, then slowly made changes and took the team to the league championship in 1966 and then on to a Copa Libertadores triumph and an achievement as the first Argentinian club to win the World Club Cup.
It continues to be strange how mostly the same coaches here move from club to club, being dismissed from one club for lack of success and then being signed by another hoping for more success. It seems one reason for stagnation.
But there are good Argentine coaches such as José Pekerman, successful with Argentine national junior teams, not so much with the seniors, but now successful with Colombia’s national team qualified for World Cup; Marcelo Bielsa, currently not working, but does not seem too keen to do so as several European clubs want him; Gerardo Martino who also took over Newell’s Old Boys when facing relegation, to the league title.
This season, Martino took over Barcelona where, it appeared, he was on a hiding to nothing as the Spanish club were on the top of the world and the only thing he can do succeed is to keep them there. He has and says he does not take the credit for it. There are humble coaches.
Ricardo Zielinski took over Córdoba’s Belgrano at the end of 2010 and took them into the top division in 2011 where they have now become one of the leading clubs.
He says the coach must adapt himself to the players he has available – not the other way round – and make the best use of their capabilities.
Do many coaches do that?
Zielinski never promised anything, like a lot of coaches do when they take over a new team. He knows the team’s limitations and just plans to win a good number of points. He knows that promoted teams find it difficult to stay up and his first objective was to do that.
Copa Argentina back
This season’s Copa Argentina began this week with lower division teams, only shortly after the previous tournament ended with the final won by Arsenal.
There are more entries than last year, 261, of which 62 are newcomers. There are no changes from last season which means the tournament continues with its vices.
In spite of useful cash prizes and a Copa Libertadores place for the winner, leading teams will again field reserves in most matches and many of these will be played in faraway provinces even if the rivals are from Buenos Aires.
The recent final between Buenos Aires teams Arsenal and San Lorenzo was played in Catamarca. Although there was a 20,000 attendance, it would have been bigger in Buenos Aires and caused less inconvenience for players and long suffering fans.
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