Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
Astronaut. Brain surgeon. Formula 1 driver. Spy. FourFourTwo.com editor.
Until Monday, commonly-held wisdom deemed (some of) these occupations amongst the hardest on the planet.
But that was before Mauricio Macri came out and informed us that it was none of these.
It was, in fact, a job in which he had first-hand experience – being the Boca Juniors president.
Having held the Bombonera hot seat for 11 years, Macri is well placed to discuss the pressures of responsibility at Argentina’s best-supported club.
Now he's the Buenos Aires city governor, however, he rarely gives interviews about football.
In agreeing to talk about Boca, he was keen to put the brakes on any hopes of giving attention-grabbing headlines.
"I really can’t say too much," he said, "because having been the Boca president, it just causes problems if I say too much. It attracts headlines and isn’t good for the club."
So it was, then, that the shy and recoiling Macri gave around 20 minutes worth of headline-packed interview.
But it wasn’t until right at the very end that the true demands of his old job were brought to our attention.
Asked which would be harder of the two – being president of Argentina or Boca Juniors – Macri had no doubt.
Dealing with players’ egos, agents, the press, all while relying on results on the pitch, was, he said, merely compounded by the ‘irrationality’ that surrounds the club.
Judging by that last statement, Macri clearly doesn’t follow Argentine politics.
Despite making it to city governor, and having presidential aspirations, Macri confessed that he would swap anything – his political career included – to have played for Boca.
If recent approval ratings are to be trusted, 66 percent of porteños are now cursing the former Boca coaching staff for not giving young Mauricio a run out in front of La Doce, for the greater good of the city.
As it was, as Boca president Macri oversaw a radical change at the club which took its inspiration from the Florentino Pérez marketing model at Real Madrid, and also enjoyed the most successful period in the club’s history.
On the back of this success at Boca, he moved into politics.
Yet despite his new career, and despite generally keeping out of his former club’s affairs, Macri has managed to further rock the unsteady boat that is Boca in 2010.
He wrote off the new signings, believing that the club simply don’t have the money to bring in the quality that would improve the side.
"We need to play the youngsters. When you sign a player, you know what you can expect from them. But with our youth team players, you never know what talent could emerge."
And ironically, one of the men who gave Macri so much success at the club is one person he is now at odds with – Carlos Bianchi.
"Bianchi can’t deal with criticism," said Macri, again avoiding any inflammatory remarks that could possibly be the headline for the back pages the next day.
Bianchi may be prickly with the press, but at least he is honest in admitting that he still hasn’t settled into his role as general manager.
Just this weekend he told reporters that "when it comes to enjoyment, first you have being a player, then you have being a coach, then you have being the manager."
Bianchi may not enjoy his job, and added pressure from Macri won’t help the situation at Boca. He and coach Alfio Basile are under scrutiny after losing 4-1 to Estudiantes.
The signings that the club are chasing have yet to materialise. Defeat to River in the superclásico this Wednesday will spark further talks of a crisis.
Macri, meanwhile, already has the answer. "The next coach should be Guillermo Barros Schelotto. He is an exemplary professional."
Macri’s interview will have caused quite a stir at Boca.
For the rest of the people of Buenos Aires, they’ll just be cursing the fact that their city governor never got a game for the club.
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Joel, do you think Riquelme will leave the club at the end of his "free year?"
Also, since Macri left Boca seem to have abandoned the model that made them so successful for such a long during his reign over the club. No real talents have emerged from the world famous Boca Juniors academy in some time now, why so?
Even though Riquelme drops it into most interviews that he is indeed playing a 'free' year, and even though Boca won't have much money to throw at him to stay, he's already had lots of offers to leave so he might well stay on.
As for the way the club is run, well, it had to change. In the same interview as above Macri said 'football reflects the state the nation is in.' Argentine football is in no state to pay its players multimillion dollar contracts, which is of course exactly what they received under a certain Boca president...
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