I’ve looked at 2008 as far as the action between the touch- and goal lines is concerned already – if you’re struggling to remember, the Clausura review is here, and the Apertura one is here. It’s time, though, to take a look at how each of the clubs lived up to the suggestions I put forward for new year’s resolutions last January. Who did what they should’ve done? Who gave in to temptation? Step this way…
Arsenal Fútbol Club
I said they needed to make sure another continental cup challenge didn’t get in the way of their league campaign again. They managed to do this by getting knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana in the last 16 against eventual finalists Estudiantes. In the Clausura, they finished on 25 points; in the Apertura, 26. Not a bad year for them, even if they predictably failed to defend their Sudamericana crown from 2007.
Will be disappointed at not having defended the Copa Libertadores, particularly given the performance in the semi-final when they lost to Fluminense. They did win their first domestic title in a while, though, and this was in spite of an underwhelming year from Juan Román Riquelme.
Did indeed get over Diego Simeone’s walk-out, regrouping under Roberto Sensini and challenging for the title not once, but twice. There was even some honour in exiting the Copa Libertadores in the first knockout round, since that elimination came at the hands of eventual winners LDU Quito. Seba Verón has just been named South American Footballer of the Year to top of a decent year all round for the club.
Carlos Babington did manage to be a bit quieter in 2008, but still caused bother with his players from time to time. Claudio Ubeda, promoted by Babington after Ossie Ardiles’s resignation at the end of 2007, didn’t last the year, and the side played some horrible football.
Couldn’t muster another title challenge, but Germán Denis did so well in shaking off the dog attack last summer that he ended the Clausura by joining Napoli. Without him, the side were hopeless in the Apertura, finishing 18th. In the stands, it was a funny old year. A groundshare with Racing combined with the head of El Rojo‘s barra calling a conference to sign a peace treaty made it a bit of an odd one.
Did indeed hang onto Diego Valeri, but found the Clausura slightly too hard going right after winning their first ever title. Six months on, though, they could consider themselves a little unlucky not to have been in the mix for a second title.
Newell’s Old Boys
Amazingly, Eduardo López is gone by popular demand after elections were finally held at the Rosario club following a protest outside the AFA headquarters. He didn’t exactly leave peacefully, though. So one resolution has been achieved, but how much difference will it make?
On the pitch, they were poor but the Apertura – and others’ faults – give them some slim hope of climbing clear of relegation. Off the pitch was where the real news for Racing was though, and in many ways Racing were the off-pitch news story in Argentina in 2008. It was the year most Racing fans had awaited for the better part of a decade. Blanquiceleste S.A. are no longer in control of the club. The only way is up…
Oh my. On the face of it, it’s resolution done for River: they did win a title. That was barely half the story, though. The elections haven’t come yet, and the question now is, how long with Aguilar be able to hold them off, with the team playing as they did during the Apertura?
Did alright during the Clausura, finishing in mid-table, but it was back to business as usual for the Apertura, when only River prevented them from finishing bottom. It all got a bit much for club president Horacio Usandizaga, who let rip with an extraordinary tirade against his players.
And how did some of the individuals and organisations I gave resolutions to do…?
Well, he’s still there sadly. Christmas Eve pronouncements which seemed to all but confirm that, from August 2009, the Primera A will switch to a single, season-long championship, have been wasted by the fact that the relegation Promedio will remain. He continues to be one of Argentine football’s biggest problems, and did anyone really believe the statement that, ‘I’ve wanted Diego Maradona to be in charge of the selección since 1979 [when an 18-year-old Maradona captained Argentina to Youth World Cup success].’?
Sergio Agüero had a great season in Spain and won La Liga’s ‘Best Latin American player’ award, but Messi has responded with performances for Barcelona so far this term which have been nothing short of sensational. He just keeps getting better – for his club. He’s admitted recently that he knows he needs to reach the same level for Argentina, but on a personal note, 2008 can only have been a success for Lio. Even if a certain Portuguese gentleman (ahem) beat him to the major individual awards.
Hasta El Gol Siempre
It’s been a good year for me, both on HEGS and elsewhere with my writing. As regular readers will know I’ve begun to be published elsewhere, and all of this is moving me closer to my hoped-for move to Buenos Aires in early 2010. This sort of patting-myself-on-the-back doesn’t really have a place here, but I wanted to take the opportunity to use this post (the last of 2008 in a footballing sense, even if it is actually the second post of 2009) to wholeheartedly thank everyone who continues to read me and support me, on this site and elsewhere. It really is much appreciated.