In a season where four of the “Big Five” clubs of Buenos Aires have changed coaches and endured terrible campaigns, River Plate took a huge step forward toward ending a long run of misery and mediocrity by persuading Argentine coach Angel Cappa to return to Buenos Aires from Spain, where he resides, and take over the legendary club. Cappa is widely respected in Argentina for putting together and teaching spectacular “total futbol” a la Barcelona.
Most recently, Cappa lead a young group of players at Huracan to within ten minutes of being champions of Argentina, only to have a historical title run controversially snagged by Velez Sarsfield in the Clausura of 2009. The allure of taking a massive club such as River from its currently dismal state is a perfect challenge for Cappa and a coup for River’s President Passarella. Still, however great of a maestro he is, Cappa will need players to work with. He will quickly recognize that. River have not scored a goal in five games.
River’s gain is Boca’s loss. Boca has not named a permanent replacement for Abel Alves, the second coach to resign this campaign under the weight of miserable results. Boca has lost five of six matches, the only moment of joy coming in a 2-0 win against River in the Super-Classico. Likewise, Boca needs to be revamped from top to bottom under a strong manager. With Cappa committed to River, Boca may turn to its legendary former coach Carlos Bianchi or perhaps Carlos Bilardo, who is presently involved with the national team, but neither seems to have interest in the job. Boca desperately need players as well, having let a lot of talent go in recent years without replenishing adequately.
San Lorenzo is also looking for a new coach to replace Diego “Cholo” Simeone. Cholo finally resigned after an inexplicably poor string of results that culminated with a 1-0 home loss to bottom side Gimnasia La Plata. It was a sad resignation, but a necessary one. Cholo is a good guy and a respectable manager, but somehow Sunday after Sunday San Lorenzo came up short. Unlike Boca and River, San Lorenzo does have a good nucleus of players, but still cannot score goals. It is the system and the mentality that must be changed. Ramon Diaz may return to the club for a second stint, last one ending successfully.
It has been disheartening to see Boca, River, San Lorenzo and Racing do so poorly. La Primera is not the same with Godoy Cruz and Argentinos Juniors vying for the title and representing Argentina in the Copa Libertadores. Surely the big clubs will return to glory, hopefully sooner rather than later.