Manager speak

Hold the front pages – Ramón Díaz has said something that, in a certain light, could appear to suggest that Ramón Díaz made a bit of a hash of things. He’s not the only manager in today’s papers, though – Boca boss Miguel Angel Russo has been shooting his mouth off about his club’s huge support, and all this a day after Ricardo La Volpe admitted he’d almost quit Vélez.

For those unaware of Díaz’s reputation, he’s seen in Argentina as being approximately as underspoken as José Mourinho is in England. On his arrival in Buenos Aires when he was first appointed San Lorenzo manager back in January, he wasted little time getting into what has proved a long-running war of words with one of his successors as River Plate manager, Daniel Passarella. In his capacity as former River boss, he enjoyed no end beating Boca to the Clausura title, and winning in La Bombonera on the way.

On Friday, however, assembled press stifled gasps and there were unconfirmed reports of one TV newsreader fainting with shock when Díaz was heard to utter the words, ‘there is a lot to improve on, tactics-wise.’ Admitting that the 4-3 defeat (after rallying from 4-1 down at one point) to Lanús on Wednesday was in part down to him, El Pelado added that, ‘I have full confidence in the squad.’ San Lorenzo take on massively over-achieving Tigre on Sunday.

Miguel Angel Russo, meanwhile, will be taking his Boca side down to El Sur to face Banfield on Sunday afternoon. Claudio Morel Rodríguez has recovered from a muscular strain and should play, but the real talk surrounded Boca’s away form this season – despite sitting joint top of the championship, they’ve won only once away from La Bombonera, against fellow leaders Independiente. Away losses to Argentinos and Colón were the results in the others.

‘Boca feel secure regardless of where we play,’ said Russo when asked whether he was nervous about yet another of those pesky away fixtures. But after the way they’ve started this campaign, the mind perhaps goes back to the Copa Libertadores semi-final, when they were played off the pitch in the first leg by Cúcuta in Colombia, to be rescued by the atmosphere, the lack of Blas Pérez from the visiting side, and according to some conspiracy theorists, the fog back in La Bombonera. Boca are all but unbeatable at home. But are they really so comfortable as Russo would like us to believe when they’re away?

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