Madness and magic from Maradona’s motherland
You’ve just picked up the 14th red card of your career, so you are suspended for the next game. At the ripe old age of 36, it’s basically up to you to make sure the side score goals and win games so that your club, one of the biggest in the continent, isn’t relegated. The doctors say you are injured.
The pressure is on, the body is slowing down, so with this in mind, it would fair enough to give Ariel Ortega the day off this week. He can’t play against Independiente at the weekend, he can’t train because of his ankle, so there’s no need for him to come in, right?
Various local opinionistas think not. Ortega’s ‘form’ makes bad news – a suspension, for example – ‘a potential time bomb.’ It would detonate another relapse. It would the perfect excuse for a bender.
Ortega not showing up for one single day this week meant that the papers were full of speculation that, much like in various well-documented acts of poor balance, he had fallen off the wagon.
Unlike previous episodes, however, there was no 6 am car crash. There were no mobile phone photos taken in the small hours in a dark corner of a bar. There nothing but hot air.
Whether or not Ortega turned to the bottle for comfort this week, life at River must go on. Amidst the rumours, the good news is that Ortega’s ban is just one game. But in the mean time, the man replacing the 36 year old is, in fact, a boy. A 17 year old one. Manuel Lanzini will take on creative responsibility for the Millionaires this weekend. No pressure there, then.
While River aim to make it three wins out of three, Independiente are still in search of their first win.
The Rojo have one goal and one point to their name so far this season. In only his second job in management, former club idol Daniel Garnero hasn’t had to hang about to see the size of the task at hand. And if taking on one of the Big Five wasn’t enough pressure, his predecessor has spiced things up.
Tolo Gallego came out and – as is his wont – spoke his mind this week. ‘I was given an ovation in my last game,’ said Tolo, ‘the doors at Independiente are always open for me.’
The problem is that’s not quite true - at least not at the moment, and certainly not after what he also said this week.
‘Me leaving was down to Menotti.’ The club president had said it was either him, or Menotti, claimed Tolo.
After Tolo’s outburst, the Flaco was quick to answer back. ‘Tolo is a liar, and I can’t stand that,’ he said, before stating that he merely gives his opinion at Independiente – where he is the general manager - and the board then do what they want with that opinion. He said it wasn’t him who chose not to keep Tolo on, which - reading between the lines - is saying is that it is not him who took the decision. He may have recommended it, though.
The discontent does not stop there. Maxi Velazquez left Lanús, where he was captain and much loved, to move to Independiente over the close season. He joined on the understanding that he would be first choice. The problem is that Lucas Mareque is still in Avallaneda, so is still the side’s number 3. ‘I’m not going to sit about doing nothing for six months,’ warned Velazquez.
Velazquez should count himself lucky to be able to think so far ahead. Some people, like Ortega, can’t even sit about for a single day and be left alone.
FixtureBanfield – EstudiantesNewell’s – TigreQuilmes – LanúsVélez – ArgentinosGodoy Cruz – OlimpoRacing – San LorenzoGimnasia – ColónRiver – IndependienteArsenal – HuracánAll Boys - Boca
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