Hugo Tocalli took charge on Thursday of his first practice as Vélez Sársfield boss, as players at most of Argentina’s top flight clubs returned from their summer holidays to commence pre-season training. Elsewhere, Matías Silvestre has insisted he’s not going down without a fight at Boca, Juan Sebastián Verón had some cutting words for Diego Simeone, and Radamel Falcao García might be about to make River Plate fans very happy indeed…
Tocalli, who led the selección’s Under 20s to victory in the World Youth Cup last year, has now commenced his spell at Vélez as replacement for Ricardo La Volpe, who had a dissapointing spell after an initially promising start in Liniers. To that end, Tocalli’s got a job ahead of him to lift the squad to better performances this term. ‘The first thing we did was to talk with the squad and tell them that I have a lot of confidence in them and also in their ability to get good results,’ Tocalli told the press.
Having proved he can manage youth well, and now taking over a club with a famously strong academy, Vélez will be hoping for good things from Tocalli, who’s also asked the board for two reinforcements, one of whom might be arriving ‘in the coming days,’ according to the manager. Those two are centre-back Gustavo Cabral, who’s just walked free after his Racing contract expired, and ex-River stopper Julio César Cáceres, who the powers-that-be in La Bombonera are hoping can be convinced to join the short-ish list of men to have played for both River and Boca.
Matías Silvestre, who struggled for a starting place under ex-Boca manager Miguel Angel Russo after having been an important member of previous managers’ backlines, is encouraged by the arrival of Carlos Ischia as boss. ‘With a change of coach, everyone starts from zero… I’m going to fight for a place amongst the starters,’ a confident-sounding Silvestre told reporters, dressed in a very nice but somewhat surprising retro Brazil Nike T-shirt.
Verón became the latest Estudiantes player to speak out about the manner in which Diego Simeone left the La Plata side to take charge at River Plate, saying among other things that, ‘I don’t purport to control the situation, but we [players] as a group and, above all, the fans, deserved something more – to be told what was happening, that’s all.’ It’s fair to say that the meeting between the two sides in the Clausura should be an interesting one.
Over in Núñez, though, Verón’s words weren’t paid too much heed, as they concentrated on welcoming Sebastián Abreu, with Radamel Falcao García leading the plaudits. ‘He’s going to be a very important player for us.’ The words River fans most wanted to hear from Falcao, though, concerned his own future. And they’re good ones for Millonarios everywhere; ‘it seems to me that my time here hasn’t finished yet… the only thing I want is to stay at River.’ Fluminense’s inclusion of the Colombian in their initial Copa Libertadores squad list seems, after all, to have been a little premature.