As Boca Juniors prepare for a crunch match against Vélez Sarsfield early in their season, championship-winning manager Claudio Borghi is already feeling the heat of the position. El Bichi has made it known he’s strongly considering leaving the club if Boca fail to beat Vélez in La Bombonera on Sunday. Boca’s directors are already considering their options, with free agent Américo ‘Tolo’ Gallego currently favourite for the position ahead of Carlos Bianchi and Racing boss Miguel Ángel Russo.
Boca’s directors don’t want to have to appoint another interim manager, and would prefer to have an agreement in place with one of the candidates to take over at the earliest opportunity. Thrown by the fact that Borghi announced his decision at a press conference rather than telling his bosses first, they’re reportedly already in talks with Gallego, who took Independiente so far towards the title in the Clausura before throwing it away with some ridiculous substitutions in that amazing match against Argentinos which the incoming champions eventually won 4-3.
There were one or two muted voices asking whether the softly-spoken, modest Borghi had the right kind of mindset to take the Boca job when he was appointed following Argentinos’ championship win, but Boca’s directors seem willing to take the responsibility for that lack of character profiling now. ‘We made a mistake with the profile [of the new boss], which is our responsibility,’ one director told Olé.
Some Boca players are rumoured to be put out by some of Borghi’s peculiarities, which include (supposedly) lighting up a cigarette in the dressing room of Huracán’s ground during the defeat to All Boys on Sunday, and taking his young son Filippo on the team coach with the squad to matches. All the same, considering they put such faith in him to allow the transfer policy to revolve around a strategy normally alien to the club over the winter, would it really be wise to let him go so soon? Especially when Juan Román Riquelme – who might yet prove the team’s most important player this season – has yet to return from injury?
Bianchi has a holiday booked to Europe next month, and a number of the directors who forced his exit as ‘sporting director’ last year are still members of the board, so his chances to becoming the next Boca manager aren’t thought to be high. Russo’s are better, but he’s already focussed on Racing, and indeed there were strong rumours that Boca had approached him (I heard at the time that he’d gone as far as to sign an agreement) before the board decided to avoid a conflict with Racing by poaching Borghi from Argentinos instead. Gallego is a former River man, but then so was Borghi. And Gallego will be eager to get back into work, especially after last week, when he engaged in a verbal slanging match with César Luis Menotti over his allegations that Menotti had forced him out of Independiente at the end of last season.
If nothing else, Gallego’s a more abrasive personality than Borghi, and he’s also a master at breathing life into a squad. Boca will still be hoping that Bichi Borghi can turn things around on Sunday, but if he can’t, they’ll be moving quickly for his successor…
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