Friday, October 17, 2008

Is RUSSO the frontrunner?

The morning after is full of speculation and reports in the media.

BIANCHI remains the people's choice, BATISTA the favourite to take over but only as interim, SIMEONE was probably the safest bet to replace BASILE, but only after the 2010 World Cup and finally, there's a very important Argentine newspaper (Clarin even reporting that Miguel Angel RUSSO has already been contacted by the AFA and that the current league-leading San Lorenzo's manager will take over as Argentina's boss only after the end of the Apertura 2008, in December.

Friend of BASILE, RUSSO belongs to a younger generation and comes from a very different school.

A hard-working midfielder in his playing days, RUSSO learned a lot of tricks at Estudiantes de La Plata with no other than Carlos Salvador BILARDO, a manager that led the team to win the domestic league in 1982.

Soon after his retirement, RUSSO started his coaching career at Lanús, a club he got promoted to the first division in 1992 when he went back to Estudiantes and he also got them promoted to the elite of Argentine football (1995) with a young Juan Sebastián VERON as one of the most important players.

Spells in Chile (with Universidad in 1996 where he made the Copa Libertadores semifinals), Spain (Salamanca in 1998-1999) and Mexico (Morelia in 1999) gave him some international experience before returning to Argentina to continue with a successful career.

His first top-flight title came in 2005 with Velez Sarsfield. Players like Leandro SOMOZA, Jonas GUTIERREZ and Mauro ZARATE were key parts of that excellent side that finished 6 points ahead of the second-placed team (Banfield).

RUSSO took over at Boca Juniors after controversial big-mustache Ricardo LAVOLPE alienated players, directors, media and fans by losing on the Clausura 2006 by wasting an enormous points advantage and losing the final match against SIMEONE's Estudiantes.

His Apertura 2007 campaign was acceptable with 11 wins, 6 draws and 2 losses, but it wasn't enough to edge Ramon DIAZ's San Lorenzo, a comfortable champion with 14 wins out of 19 matches, but Boca had a big distraction and were playing in two fronts.

With a mercurial Juan Roman RIQUELME, RUSSO took Boca Juniors to the Copa Libertadores' title. Martin PALERMO and Rodrigo PALACIO were also big parts of that team that eventually lost the FIFA Club World Cup final 4-2 against AC Milan.

RUSSO didn't renew his contract with Boca after refusing to accept the request made by the club of letting go some members of his staff and use the professional suggested by Boca.

He took over at San Lorenzo after Ramon DIAZ resigned and these days his team is leading the Apertura 2008 with 22 points after 9 matches (7 wins, 1 draw and 1 loss), five points ahead of Newell's Old Boys and Tigre.

Some of his San Lorenzo players, like goalkeeper Agustín ORION, Gonzalo BERGESSIO, Christian LEDESMA and Pablo BARRIENTOS, were called up by BASILE in the latest round of WC Qualifiers.

If those reports from Clarin are true (that BATISTA will take over as interim and manage the team in Scotland for that November friendly match and RUSSO will sign his contract in December), then I have to say I'm quite happy with the decision and that RUSSO has my full and complete support.


Alejandro Camacho said...

Why do the people want Bianchi? Of course they win, but his teams are very difficult to watch.

johnny said...

Good news about Russo. I think he is a class act. I was sorry to see him leave Boca where he did a very good job. I would guess he might still be at Boca if Macri had not left. San Lorenzo has been very impressive so far and play hard the entire match.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

Well judging by the number success that RUSSO has had than I supposed he could be the best choice. Though my preference will still be Carlos BIANCHI. I don’t see any reason why we should use his style of play as the only reason he should not be replacing Coco BASILE.

I still remember watching his Boca team took on Real Madrid (which has Luis FIGO, Raul, Fernando MORIENTES, Roberto CARLOS, Steve McMANAMAN and others) in the 2000 Toyota Intercontinental Trophy.

Real was on a hot form at that time and no one gave any chance for Boca. Then what happens? A double strike from Martin PALERMO, with the mercurial Juan RIQUELME behind him made Boca the undisputed Club Champion of the World. Besides that was one hell of a team.

I’m sure many of you Boca hardcore would have cherished that moment regardless how the team played.

Lets hope all this will resolve soon, so that we can get a clear picture on the future outlook of the national team.

Lalo said...

Bianchi would be the best manager for the job. We shouldn't stress being the most attractive soccer team to watch. We were that in the last world cup and look where that go us, defeated in the semis. I want to win World Cups and I'm sure all of Argentina wants that too, so Bianchi's track record proves itself worthy of the national post. I'm not trying to take anything away from any of the other candidates but Bianchi is our man! The attractive soccer will follow the world-class players we have who produce magic every day.

John said...

Lalo, we only made it the quarter not semis.

Seba said...

My fears with BIANCHI come from his stubbornness and his arrogant approach (this is a man who refused to accept the runners-up medals after Boca lost the Copa Libertadores final against Once Caldas and later said: "I didn't know I was supposed to stay for the medal ceremony. I've never lost a final before").

To give BIANCHI this great generation of players (with which he hardly had any contact in the past) would represent a huge risk. His ego could clash with some of our players.

I have to admit he has a knack for winning and we are missing that, but I wouldn't take it at the expense of stopping from playing attractive football.

I still believe (and even more so after Spain showed it in the Euro 2008) that you can win by playing beautiful football, avoiding the opposition from hurting you by holding on to the ball and distribute it around.

That's what we need to try and achieve.

I don't know if BATISTA or RUSSO will guarantee that, but I'm pretty sure BIANCHI won't.

John said...

Seba, just for my general knowledge (and everybody as well), perhaps you can tell us which of the Albiceleste coach that had success in Europe? Apart from Hector CUPER that is.

I remember Jorge VOLDANO when he was in charged of Real Madrid. He won the La Liga in 1995.

PASARELLA and BIANCHI had short spells with Inter and Atletico respectively.

Seba said...

There are no big names when it comes to Argentines with success in Europe as managers.

At the same time, I don't think that is something that is necessary for our new manager.

We are talking about different kind of jobs. Working week-in, week-out with your players as a club manager (be it in Europe or elsewhere) is very different from calling up a few players, have them for only 3 or 4 days before the match and then wave them goodbye without even having the chance to review their performances or talk about the game with them.

SCOLARI took Brazil to the World Cup title in 2002 without having a previous experience in Europe.

It's all relative.

Joe said...

To be honest i do not know much about Russo. You who watch the argentinian leugeu maybe could tell med the way he plays? Is he offensive? Defensive? Is he a clever coach? Is he a player that would possibly win the tactical battle against other great national coaches such as Lippi and Capello?? We need someone who will no get outsmarted by the opposition manager. Sow please if someone, maybe you SEB could point out more facts about him? His tactics his football filosofi. Thanks.

Seba said...

OK Joe, I'll try. Here we go:

RUSSO cannot be singled out as either offensive or defensive. He is a balanced manager.

It's difficult to classify him. Over the years, he has had different kind of teams (depending on the players he had at his disposal). For Velez, he won the league with a very young crop of players coming from the club's youth ranks (only 2 players in the entire squad were not raised at Velez).

At Boca, he inherited a solid group of players with some very experienced professionals like RIQUELME, PALERMO, IBARRA and some exciting young stars like PALACIO and BANEGA.

And now at San Lorenzo, he didn't pick many of the players he is using. I mean...he also found a solid base (some of the players that won the league last year with Ramon DIAZ) and it's making them look really solid.

This San Lorenzo team can score at will and is very difficult to score against. Perfect combination, right?

His team scored 16 goals (with no player getting more than 3 goals, which means anyone can contribute) with the following detail:

BARRIENTOS and BERGESSIO: 3 goals each.
LEDESMA and Santiago SOLARI (yes...the former Inter and Real Madrid midfielder), scoring one each.

On the other hand, they have only conceded 4 goals. All coming in the first 6 weeks, while three of them were conceded in wins (2-1 over Godoy Cruz, 2-1 over Rosario Central and 3-1 over Banfield).

He can adapt his formation according to the players he has at his disposal.

He is not using a clear and defined playmaker now. He's playing with two wide midfielders that can feed the two forwards and support the holding midfielders too, but at Boca he used RIQUELME in a similar way BASILE employed him with the Albiceleste.

Everybody seem to like him and he's never been a high-profile, sweet-talking kind of manager.

He works quietly but he works.

Alejandro Camacho said...

Thank you Seba. I completely agree. Bianchi is dour and an egomaniac. There is no reason that we should sacrifice quality attractive football for results. I suspect whomever on this list said that Argentines would prefer to win with ugly boring football over playing well is not an Argentine: the way we win is precisely through attractive football.

Of course I want to win badly, so much it hurts, but that is not a reason to sacrifice. What happiness is there in winning the Copa America like Brazil did last year? Or the world cup in 2002 for that matter. The way we won the olympics (and took the piss out of the Brazilians) is how we should always play.

John said...

Well Alejandro, you're spot on! I'm not an Argentine but Malaysian who loves Argentina as much as you do.

Yes, I do agree it is always better to win with beauty and grace any time.

But the fact still is; whether it is by a mile or a second, winning is winning.

Now just because I'm saying this, I hope other's don't get the wrong idea on me. My feelings towards the Albiceleste is no different than you.

All I'm saying is that maybe a wind of change can do us good.

Having said that and based on what Seba has summarized about RUSSO, I do feel he has a more flexible approach to the game.

That doesn't sound bad to me. Now I feel there is a glow of confidence about the future. A great one indeed.

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