April 23, 2014
Monday, December 23, 2013

Coach Pizzi’s leaving justified

By Eric Weil

Juan Antonio Pizzi’s breaking his contract with San Lorenzo and leaving to coach Valencia in Spain barely a week after winning the Initial Championship with the club is justified although many may disagree. Obviously, San Lorenzo must be paid to release him, either by the coach or Valencia, but if they are not, it would only be a fair deal. Argentine clubs fire coaches by breaking their contracts with them all the time, but rarely pay the coach the remainder of his contract. In most cases, only long legal proceedings result in some payment in installments — often less than originally owed — or none at all.

Hardly any coaches owe allegiance to clubs, but then nor do the players, but Pizzi’s leaving also has other reasons. He knows that although he has just won a title, the club owes him no allegiance either. If next year he loses a few games — after some good players may have been sold without his agreement — he will most likely be fired, having his contract broken more quickly than in most other countries. San Lorenzo’s Vice-President Marcelo Tinelli exclaimed: “He can’t do this to me,” but surely he would have done it to Pizzi under different circumstances.

Pizzi had played in Spain, even for the national team, and lived there for a long time, his children being born and grew up there. Pizzi always hoped to coach there also, apart from the obvious fact that Valencia was paying him a lot more than he could earn in impoverished Argentine soccer. Yet many would like to go with him, not only because of the better pay. They are fed up with local soccer with its bad organization, lack of stability and safety which police do nothing about, the hooligan gangs, corruption, the stressful atmosphere, etc. Who can blame them?

TWO HEROES. Argentine 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 keep up their high standard.

Martino took over at Barcelona and was soon criticized for no apparent reason, except perhaps that in Spain they prefer coaches from their own country. But Barcelona were still top of the first division and have chances in other competitions. Yet Martino was last week considering his future at Barcelona.

Guardiola left Barcelona for Bayern Munich which has just won the Club World Cup to add to that of the European Champions Trophy, apart from a comfortable lead again in the German first division. Guardiola won 16 club title in less than 4 1/2 years.

Both made the grade, yet both are heroes for taking on the job in the first place.

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