ERIC WEIL in BUENOS AIRES: Juan Antonio Pizzi’s decision to break his contract with San Lorenzo and head off to Spain’s Valencia barely a week after winning the Initial Championship was justified, although many may disagree.
Obviously, San Lorenzo must be paid compensation, either by the coach or Valencia where he replaces sacked Miroslav Djukic, but if they are not, they could hardly complain.
Argentina’s clubs fire coaches all the time but rarely pay up the remainder of the contract. In most cases, long legal proceedings result only in some payment in instalments – often less than originally owed – or none at all.
Hardly any coaches owe allegiance to clubs – though nor do the players – but Pizzi’s departure has extra resonance.
He knew that, although he has just won a title, the club would feel no sense of loyalty if, next year, he should lose a few games (after some good players may have been sold without his agreement). Then Pizzi would have been fired more quickly than in most other countries.
On learning of Pizzi’s departure, San Lorenzo vice-president Marcelo Tinelli said: “He can’t do this to me.” But surely Tinelli would have parted company with Pizzi under different circumstances.
Pizzi played in Spain, even for the national team, and lived there for a long time. His children were born and grew up there. He always hoped to coach there anyway, apart from the obvious fact that Valencia will pay him far more than he could earn in impoverished Argentinian football.
Many other coaches would like to follow him and not only because of the better pay. They are fed up of local soccer with its bad organisation, lack of stability and safety which police do nothing about, the hooligan gangs, corruption, the stressful atmosphere, etc. Who can blame them?
A tale of two heroes
Argentina’s Gerardo Martino and Spain’s Pep Guardiola took the dangerous step this year of signing for highly successful clubs in other countries. They were on a hiding to nothing, because they could hardly improve their new teams but would be judged a failure if they did not maintain their high standard.
Martino took over at Barcelona and was soon criticised for no apparent reason, except perhaps that in Spain they prefer coaches from their own country.
But Barcelona were still top of La Liga and have chances in other competitions. Yet Martino was last week considering his future at Barcelona.
Guardiola left Barcelona for Bayern Munich and has just guided them to victory in the Club World Cup to add to the Champions League, apart from establishing a comfortable lead again in the Bundesliga.
Both made the grade, yet both are heroes for taking on such challenging new jobs in the first place.