'Mostaza' Merlo quits as Racing coach
Coach Reinaldo Merlo ended his third spell in charge of Racing Club by mutual consent after the team's 3-2 defeat at River Plate at the weekend.
Racing president Victor Blanco said Merlo had not enjoyed any luck including two signings in the January transfer window who were injured soon after joining the club.
"The team didn't function, but [Merlo] also had a lot of problems. He asked for two reinforcements and they both got injured. He didn't have any luck either, nor did the planets align (for him)," Blanco told local station Radio America.
Had River goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola not saved a stoppage-time penalty and denied Racing a 3-3 draw on Sunday, Merlo might have stayed on given his team's encouraging fightback from 3-1 down in the final half hour.
"The directors and the now ex-coach agreed by mutual accord .. to interrupt the contractual link before the end of the championship," Racing said, officially announcing Merlo's departure on their website (www.racingclub.com.ar).
Merlo, who steered Racing to their last league title in 2001 and was also in charge in 2006-07, presided over 12 defeats in 20 matches this season.
His championship victory in 2001 ended a 35-year league title drought for Racing and was celebrated with a statue of Merlo erected at the club but his magic touch did not extend to this season.
River, where Merlo spent the whole of his playing career as a holding midfielder between 1969 and 1984, joined Gimnasia as joint leaders of the Final championship with two matches remaining.